DENVER — The Broncos are set to return to Empower Field at Mile High for a two-game home stand, and Head Coach Sean Payton knows the importance of getting on the right track at home.
"I just told [the team] I am tired of sitting at the podium and talking to [the media] about not playing well at home," Payton said Friday. "Yeah, it's time. We have a good home-field [advantage]. We have a great tradition at home [and] crowd noise — and all those things that can help us. We need to take advantage of it."
The Broncos will face a Packers team led by a first-year starter in Jordan Love, and they'll aim to earn their first home win of the season.
"It's super important," Simmons said of winning at home. "I say it every week, it feels like, and it's frustrating to get up here and say it every week, but yeah, this one, it's important. And I'm not just saying that to say it — especially when you have a few losses and you've just got to get back in the win column, … the next one's the most important one, which is Sunday against Green Bay.
"It's at home, and I know it's been tough, but [I] really want to give the fans a home win, and I'm looking forward to doing that on Sunday."
As Denver looks for that home win, here's a look at a question for the Broncos to answer, a matchup to watch and a stat to know.
ONE BIG QUESTION:
Can Russell Wilson and the offense bounce back?
The Broncos' offense thrived early in the season, but the unit struggled to score points in a Week 6 meeting with the Chiefs. Denver scored its first points on a fourth-quarter Courtland Sutton touchdown, and the unit turned the ball over three times in defeat.
Against a Packers defense that could be missing several key players, Denver's offense will look to get back on track. Russell Wilson threw for just 95 yards in Week 6, but Payton said he believes the struggles did not fall solely on Wilson's shoulders.
"We'll get him back," Payton said Wednesday. "I thought there were certain elements to the plan I didn't like. We can correct that. That being said — and I said it after the game — I was pleased with how we ran the ball, and yet, we didn't throw it nearly well enough. That wasn't just on him. It starts with me relative to finding those throws for him — drive starters, for instance, and first-and-10 throws that are higher completion percentage throws. [The Chiefs] were playing good defense, and that, too, we knew going in."
If Denver can protect Wilson, the team should be in position to succeed; Wilson has completed more than 70 percent of his passes and has a 105 quarterback rating this season when not facing pressure.
MATCHUP TO WATCH:
Broncos' pass rushers vs. QB Jordan Love
The Broncos recorded just two sacks in Week 6 in Kansas City, but they pressured Patrick Mahomes into a series of difficult throws. Denver recorded five quarterback hits and pressured Mahomes to throw an interception that spoiled a red-zone trip. As the Broncos prepare to face another mobile quarterback in Jordan Love, outside linebackers Nik Bonitto and Jonathon Cooper will need to produce again.
"He's athletic," Payton said Friday of Love. "We never talk about a quarterback's threat with their legs if they are just pocket passers. ... It's the third-down [ability]. When you choose to play man and your eyes are on players as opposed to zone, you have to be on point with your rush plan. ... He's not the type of player you are going to play two-man against where everyone's eyes are on the routes. There are some quarterbacks where you're comfortable with that. ... Rushing him properly comes to mind."
The Broncos will be aided by the addition of Baron Browning, who was activated off the Physically Unable to Perform list on Saturday. The third-year player recorded five sacks last season and will provide another talented option to rush the passer.
"Man, he is strong, physical and he's explosive," Payton said. "... I know we're not going live, but you can see his explosiveness. I would say there are some players that are heavy handed, and he is one of those guys."
STAT TO KNOW:
1 vs. 5.
After throwing seven touchdowns and one interception over the first three games of the season while leading the Packers to 26.7 points per game, Love has found less success over the last two games. In Weeks 4 and 5, the Packers' quarterback has thrown one touchdown and five interceptions — and his passer rating dropped from 94.7 to 51.8 during the same span.
Love's most recent outing was a three-interception performance against the Raiders, and the Packers have lost their past two contests.
Denver's defense, meanwhile, may be closer to finding its stride. The unit has allowed just two touchdowns over the past two games and held the Jets and Chiefs to a combined 1-of-10 performance in the red zone.