Oh, goody! Thursday Night Football is a matchup of teams with a combined 3-9 record.
The Broncos take on the Cardinals at State Farm Stadium, coming into the matchup leading the all-time series, 8-1-1. Denver has won eight of the past nine meetings between these teams and is looking for just its third win of the season tonight.
The Cardinals have only one win to their name and made a switch at quarterback in the fourth quarter of their Week 3 loss to the Bears, before officially naming Josh Rosen the starter for Week 4. Since then, Rosen has won one game (against the 49ers) and is struggling behind an offensive line that has allowed him to be sacked just seven times, among the best rates in the league.
So what’s going on with these two teams with losing records and why will it be worthwhile to tune into Thursday Night Football this week? Let’s take a look at some of the top storylines and reasons to watch the Broncos vs. Cardinals (Fox, 8:20 p.m. ET.) tonight.
1. It’s the first chance to see Josh Rosen in primetime
Rosen was the No. 10 overall pick in this year’s draft and the Cardinals are hoping he’s the long-term future of their franchise. This will be his first primetime appearance, making it a big game for the rookie signal caller (and for NFL fans who have yet to see him play). Right now, Rosen isn’t playing too well — which isn’t a big deal as a rookie quarterback on a team that’s lacking supporting talent. He has completed 50 of his 90 passing attempts (55.6 percent) for 626 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions, and a 75.5 passer rating.
Rosen is one of only two UCLA quarterbacks ever selected in the top-10 of the NFL draft. The other, Troy Aikman, will be calling the game for Fox alongside Joe Buck.
The rookie’s going to want to shine on the big stage. Will he? You’ll have to tune in to find out.
2. David Johnson should have his best game of the season
The Broncos have allowed 200-yard rushers in back-to-back weeks. In Week 5, Jets running back Isaiah Crowell rushed for 219 yards and a score in the Jets’ 34-16 record-breaking win. In Week 6, Todd Gurley rushed for 208 yards and two touchdowns in the Rams’ 23-20 win over the Broncos. The Denver defense ranks 32nd in the league in rushing yards allowed (968), so it should be a fun game for Johnson (and his fantasy owners).
Johnson has 297 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns in addition to 135 receiving yards and one receiving touchdown. Fresh off a contract extension, he ranks 21st in the league in rushing yards this season, so he’ll be looking to boost his numbers against the Broncos. One milestone he can hit this week is reaching 40 total touchdowns in his first 40 career games. He currently has 39 total touchdowns in 39 career games.
3. Von Miller is ready for a bounce-back game.
Von Miller is one of the best defensive players in the league and it’s safe to say he doesn’t enjoy losing. After John Elway called the Denver defense “soft” and said the run defense needs to “get fixed in a hurry” Miller made a bold proclamation heading into tonight’s game.
“We’re going to get everybody’s best this week. They’re going to get our whole team’s best. And that starts with me, they’re going to get my best this week, and we’re going to go out there and we’re going to kick their ass. That’s the way I’m feeling,” Miller said.
Von Miller on John Elway’s comments and on Thursday. “We going to kick their ass” pic.twitter.com/UVcQOuasif— James Palmer (@JamesPalmerTV) October 16, 2018
Miller has 25 tackles, 5.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, and one pass defensed so far this season. That puts him on pace for more tackles and sacks than he had last year, and he’s already forced the same number of turnovers as he did in all of 2017. He’s not the problem with the Broncos defense, but look for him to step up even more and lead Denver’s defensive effort tonight against the Cardinals’ weak, 32nd-ranked offense.
4. Patrick Peterson trade rumors are flying.
Just about every team would like Patrick Peterson on their roster. And, while the cornerback has spent all eight of his NFL seasons with the Cardinals, a change may be coming before the end of October. CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora reported that Peterson is available for a trade ahead of the NFL’s October 30 trade deadline. The Broncos are actually among the teams rumored to be interested. The Chiefs, Patriots, Steelers, Texans, and Eagles could make sense as trade destinations, too. Coming into tonight, Peterson has 39 tackles, 1.0 sack, one fumble recovery, one interception, two passes defensed, and two stuffs. Look for him be active in shutting down the Broncos’ 10th-ranked offense.
5. Fan confidence is low but someone has to be rewarded with a win!
SB Nation’s FanPulse survey, which polls NFL fans on a weekly basis, has the Cardinals and Broncos receiving two of the lowest votes of confidence across the NFL among their respective fanbases. Seven percent of Broncos fans are confident in the direction of the team while 11 percent of Cardinals fans are confident in the direction of their team. The only other two fanbases with such little confidence are the Giants (nine percent) and Raiders (nine percent). Here’s how the Cardinals’ and Broncos’ fanbases think tonight’s game is going to shake out.