GAME PLAN: The Broncos will try to attack the Rams' secondary with their passing game. The Rams allowed numerous big plays against San Francisco two games ago, so QB Kyle Orton has to believe he can duplicate the success experienced by Troy Smith.
On defense, their goal, like most teams, will be to slow down RB Steven Jackson and stop the Rams on third down. QB Sam Bradford has been effective, but the Rams have struggled keeping drives going in recent weeks.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Broncos WR Brandon Lloyd, who leads the NFL in both 25-yard-plus (15) and 40-plus (seven) catches, vs. Rams CB Ronald Bartell, St. Louis' top cover corner. Teams have tried to roll coverages on Lloyd but he's been able to split double teams and stop short for athletic, leaping grabs. No one has yet tried to shadow him, but Bartell just might. He leads the Rams with 11 passes defensed and also has 45 tackles.
Broncos RT Ryan Harris, starting his third straight game after a brief benching, vs. Rams LDE Chris Long, who has notched five of his 5.5 sacks over the last five games. Long's impact may depend on game situations. In losses in three of the last four games, Denver's offensive line has yielded 13 sacks in those defeats. The constant was falling behind, so while Harris has the athleticism to stick with Long, he could be susceptible if the Broncos' offense once again becomes one-dimensional.
INJURY IMPACT: The Broncos already have ruled three players out Sunday: CB Andre Goodman (hip), S Darcel McBath (thigh) and WR Demaryius Thomas (ankle). Goodman now will have missed seven games but McDaniels and the player both insist this is not a season-ending injury and that he will be back in December, so he won't land on IR. He'll again be replaced by rookie Perrish Cox.
McBath's latest malady continues a rash of injuries that also included his forearm (twice) and ankle over the last two seasons. That history puts in doubt McBath's ability to be a potential replacement at safety for either Renaldo Hill or Brian Dawkins in the long term, despite the team liking McBath's skill-set. Denver has played three safeties in dime situations and likely will move Nate Jones to fill in for McBath while Cassius Vaughn serves as fourth cornerback in the sub package.
Thomas has mainly been used in four-wide sets, which provides an opportunity for fellow rookie Eric Decker to get additional work, probably as a duel slot option with Eddie Royal, or a starter in three-wide sets if Royal's forced to sit with his hamstring issue.
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