Mile High in Denver is a tough place to visit. Winning there is quite difficult. In a short, independent research* the Buffalo Bills and Oakland Raiders were found to have winning records there, and that is all. It is an exclusive club those NFL teams who win more than they lose in Denver.
Minnesota can join this club on Sunday.
The Vikings hold a 7-6-0 edge in the overall series. The last two meetings the Broncos have won. The games in Denver since 1972 have been unusually close. At Mile High and its' replacement, Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium, five of the six games have been decided by a field goal or less. Only a 1984 blowout loss tarnishes a history of tense games.
This Sunday will mark the seventh game in the rivalry played at Mile High Stadium. The Vikings' record stands 3-3-0 as the visitor.
Minnesota can start their own Mile High Club of NFC teams with winning records in Denver. They would be alone.
It will not be easy. The Broncos have a smothering defense that has held its' first three opponents to 35 points. Teams average less than 300 yards per game, and if not for Jamaal Charles' 149 rushing yards week two, Denver could be first in pass and run defense. As it is, they are first overall in defense.
The Ravens' Justin Forsett was held to 43 yards in 14 carries in a week one win over Baltimore by a 19-13 margin. The Broncos won that game without scoring a touchdown on offense. Joe Flacco was held to 134 yards passing.
The Broncos beat the Chiefs week two 31-24, as their defense scored for the 2nd consecutive game. Alex Smith was held to 212 yards passing for Kansas City. Denver came back from a multiple-digit deficit which included two touchdowns in the last minute.
Week three the Broncos handled the Lions in a 24-12 win. While Matthew Stafford benefited from some late game stat padding, the Lions running game amassed 28 yards in 19 carries.
A great defense.
But before anyone hands the Vince Lombardi trophy off to Gary Kubiak prematurely it should be noted there are a few things rotten in the state of Colorado. Fantasy owners will concur that C.J. Anderson, the latest in a long line of successful Broncos running backs, is anything but. Presently he is averaging 2.0 yards per carry, with 37 attempts for 74 yards.
Peyton Manning has had a rough start, at least until last week when they abandoned snapping from under center. Instead, Denver has turned to the "pistol" formation, kind of a small "shotgun" formation, if you will. Still, the Lions hit Manning eight times, though they only managed one sack. The reason for this was that Denver's offensive line suffered a few injuries. Left tackle Ty Sambraillo and right guard Louis Vasquez were both limited in playing time due to injuries.
The Broncos offense has not been overly impressive to date.
Minnesota brings in the league's number one rusher in Adrian Peterson. And they bring young Teddy Bridgewater for his first visit to Mile High. AP did play here once before, winning the rushing title at the end of the 2007 season (though he had only 36 yards).
The Broncos defense has already 10 takeaways and 11 sacks. They will try and disrupt Bridgewater with rushes and aggressive tackling. Certainly they will focus on stopping Peterson, which would force Teddy to throw against an opportunistic defense.
An optimistic Purple fan might point to Charles' big game on the ground week two and suggest Minnesota can do the same. They may also point to the lack of running game the Broncos possess. Further, they could point to an offensive line that is banged up and failed to protect their talented, but aging quarterback. Peyton Manning in the pistol was more for protection than for strategy.
A pessimistic fan would point to a swarming defense, and an unsure young quarterback and say this game is over before it started.
I say it is time to join the Mile High Club.
Or make up our own...