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The Arizona Cardinals can't run the football. The Denver Broncos can't stop the run.So maybe the ground game will be the deciding factor when these two struggling teams meet on Thursday night."I'll tell you this - and I'm a firm believer in this - stopping the run and running the football allows a team to control the game depending on who is doing that the best Cory Littleton Jersey ," Broncos coach Vance Joseph said.Arizona (1-5) ranks dead last in the NFL in total offense and in rushing, averaging 64 yards per game on the ground. Denver (2-4) is last in rushing defense, allowing a whopping 161.3 yards per game."We need to do a much better job up front as far as blocking, executing our assignments," Cardinals coach Steve Wilks, then referring to running back David Johnson: "We need to move him around a little bit more. Try to find ways to get him out into space, different things right here to try to open it up some."Denver has allowed 593 yards rushing in its last two games. Two of the opposing running backs, the New York Jets' Isaiah Crowell and the Los Angeles Rams' Todd Gurley, topped 200 yards rushing, something that's never happened against the same team in NFL history."We've had really two bad weeks, and it's really with our nickel defense," Joseph said. "We have to fix that and obviously play in more fronts and fix it that way."The Cardinals aren't good against the run, either. They rank 31st in the NFL, just ahead of Denver, giving up 151.2 yards per game. That could clear the way for the Broncos' rookie running back tandem of Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman, who have a combined four touchdowns and average 5.19 yards per carry.But Denver has relied more on the passing of Case Keenum than in the running game in recent weeks.The Cardinals will be without safety Tre Boston, who leads the team with three interceptions. He didn't practice this week with shoulder and rib injuries.The Broncos have lost four straight, the latest a close home loss to the undefeated Rams. Arizona has beaten Denver only once in the 10-game history of the series.Here are some things to consider when the Broncos face the Cardinals:BEAT-UP LINESBoth teams are beaten up on the offensive line.The Broncos lost their best lineman, left guard Ronald Leary, to a torn Achilles tendon against the Rams."You guys already know how good he is and what he brings to this team, and everyone in this locker room knows how important he is to our organization," tackle Garett Bolles said. "Having someone like that go down is a tough situation and puts us in a tight spot."Denver right tackle Jared Veldheer — a former Cardinal — will miss the game with a knee injury.Arizona left guard Mike Iupati is sidelined with a back injury that knocked him out of Sunday's loss at Minnesota. Right guard Justin Pugh has his injured right hand in a cast-like wrap and plans to try to play Thursday.MIFFED MILLERVon Miller repeatedly promised that the Broncos would whoop the Cardinals. "I wouldn't say it's a must win," Miller said. "We're going to kick their (behind), though. Make sure you put that up there. We're going to kick their (behind)."Miller and rookie Bradley Chubb had 4陆 sacks between them last week Authentic Ndamukong Suh Jersey , but Miller insisted they hadn't unlocked some sort of pass rush puzzle."No, we just got on the board," Miller said. "And if we're playing our best, I don't think there's anybody in the league that can block me and Bradley. ... Especially not the Cardinals. They're going to get our best on Thursday. They got to come with their best."UP-TEMPOThe Cardinals' offense, under rookie quarterback Josh Rosen, showed some signs of life with an up-tempo game late against the Vikings. Expect to see more of it against Denver."It was very effective for us. It's something that we've got to definitely consider," Wilks said. "It's part of his comfort zone, based off college and the things he did back there. We've got to do everything we can right now to get this offense going in the right direction."ELWAY'S CRITICISMBroncos general manager John Elway reprised his "soft" criticism he also used last year when discussing Denver's run defense this week.Elway suggested the Broncos must realize that "we're fighting for our lives" Thursday night.Asked if he interpreted that as fighting for his job, Joseph said, "Absolutely. And that's every coach in this league every week. If you don't feel that way, you're missing something. If we were 5-1, I would feel that way. That doesn't motivate me. I'm already motivated to win games and to fix our football team."MCCOY'S HEATFor the second year in a row, Mike McCoy is feeling heat as an offensive coordinator.McCoy was fired by Joseph after 10 games with the Broncos last season. Now he's facing severe criticism as offensive coordinator of the Cardinals."We're preparing like any other week," McCoy said. "Our objective every week is to go out and win the next game that you're playing. That's our focus."AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Stapleton contributed to this report.Los Angeles Rams vs. Minnesota Vikings report card: QB Jared Goff ascends into top tier with another stellar performance QuarterbacksJared Goff was simply incredible tonight. 26-33/465/5 TDs and nothing even resembling an interception en route to a perfect passer rating. It’s fair to say that our signal caller has arrived. You want deep balls? Screens? Touch passes? Pocket presence and poise? This is the kind of performance his critics questioned if he’d ever have. This is the kind of performance that firmly puts Goff in the conversation as one of the NFL’s top 10 quarterbacks. His rollout throw to Cooper Kupp in the corner of the end zone was one of the best throws you’ll see all season. Running BacksOnce again, Todd Gurley was the straw that stirred the drink. He tallied 83 yards on 17 carries for nearly 5 yards a pop, and tacked on another 73 receiving, most of which came on a nifty play action dump-off which he turned up-field for big yardage. He continues to show incredible patience, and helped the Rams eventually start to use some clock when it counted most. He’s no longer the entire focus of the Rams’ offense, and he’s kind of making this look easy.Tight EndsAfter Tyler Higbee went down with a knee injury in the first half, it looked like second year man Gerald Everett might finally get his moment in the sun (and according to Troy Aikman and Joe Buck, this was the week McVay would turn his TEs loose). One catch and 13 yards later, that obviously didn’t happen. Higbee came back and helped keep Goff clean, and the rest is history. When your WRs catch everything in sight and your QB is playing lights out, having a position group that does what’s asked of them is good enough.Wide ReceiversWhen all three of your WRs go over 100 yards and score TDs Youth Robert Woods Jersey , well, yeah. I mean, is that good? Prettay prettay prettay good, I’d say. Cooper Kupp had a career night with 9/162 (“Hey Adam Thielen, I’ll see your 8/135 and raise you a catch and 30 yards.”), Brandin Cooks chipped in 7/116 and hauled in another deep ball, and Robert Woods “quietly” notched 5/101. Along with Goff’s stunning performance, these guys are amazing, catching everything thrown their way and simply setting the NFL on fire. I’m a little pumped post-game, but maybe some of these GSOT comparisons are legit. Offensive LineBest in the NFL? You decide. But we’re protecting our QB (save for one sack, which Goff could have avoided by stepping up in the pocket), opening holes, and getting to the second level downfield and helping create chunk plays. Austin Blythe remains a revelation at RG, and the rest of the line is really showing very few chinks in the armor. Everson Griffen might make things interesting, and Von Miller’s on the schedule soon, but right now this line is playing as well as any team’s in the league.Defensive LineIf I’d started writing this in the 3rd quarter, this could have been a D. Minnesota QB Kirk Cousins had too much time all night long, and pressures were few and far between. The Rams were fine against the rush, but then Minnesota tends to give up on it about 8 plays into the game. When it counted most, though, our big-money players made big-money plays, as Aaron Donald notched two second half sacks, and Ndamukong Suh had one of his own. Minnesota had a chance to tie it late, and rookie DL Jonathan Franklin-Meyers came through with a huge strip sack which the Rams recovered to seal the victory (note: JFM is coming on!).LinebackersMark Barron http://www.authenticslosangelesrams.com/cheap-michael-brockers-jersey , we miss you. Cory Littleton was fine tonight — he was in on 9 tackles and defended a few passes, but overall the unit remains a real weakness for the Rams. One of my 5 Rams to watch, Samson Ebukam, had me watching through my fingers, as he whiffed on a handful of tackles and was unable to generate much pressure off the edge. Ramik Wilson should probably think about the CFL. This unit simply can’t cover, and the entire NFL knows it. Eventually, the death by papercut dink and dunk offenses we face make mistakes, or our pass rushers make some plays, but we need to see better play from this unit or we’ll be in shootouts all year long. Did I mention we’re 4-0?Defensive BacksKirk Cousins torched us for 422/3 TDs. And, honestly, it could have been worse, as it seemed like he was taking his pick of open receivers. Marcus Peters was on one leg, and got picked on in the first half (props to him for playing, but glad he’ll be getting 10 days to get right). Nickell Robey-Coleman was stout in run support, and held his own in coverage, but, yeah, Sam Shields did his best to make us consider Troy Hill as perhaps a more viable option than the former Pro Bowler. He just missed on an INT, but otherwise missed a handful of tackles and made Adam Thielen’s job easy. I don’t want to be too harsh, but at 30 and coming off a few years away from the game, the rust showed. John Johnson was in on 11 tackles, but likely because the CBs weren’t covering (or he was targeted), and LaMarcus Joyner’s disappearing act continues. Special TeamsBye bye, Sam Ficken. It’s been an adventure White Andrew Whitworth Jersey , but the Penn State product missed a 28-yarder (after a bad game last week), and his days in LA are numbered. He’ll cost us a game we can’t afford on the road, and that’s just not OK. Johnny Hekker had a rare off night punting the ball, and while his throw to Josh Reynolds looked to be somewhat catchable, not sure what McVay and Bones were even DOING there. Plus, Reynolds, technically a special-teamer at that point, barely made an effort to come back for the ball and the fake punt fizzled mightily. Coverage units appeared fine, but you can’t miss chip-shot field goals, and hit 35 yard punts and expect anything above a D here.CoachingYes, Sean McVay is an offensive genius. We’ve got zero problems on that side of the ball. Still, the aforementioned fake punt was a head-scratcher and appeared greedy. Wade Phillips was able to make halftime adjustments as always, and the Rams D held Minnesota to 11 second-half points, but I find it hard to believe that the absence of Aqib Talib and a less-than-100% Marcus Peters have this defense looking so porous. They’ve got to find ways to shut down the dink and dunk offenses, generate pressure, and limit YAC. They didn’t do any of those things tonight. Still, McVay’s time management, run/pass mix and overall head coaching have all seen marked improvement over last year, and it’s showing up where it counts: 4-0, headed to Seattle.
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