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Manning remains the key to the team, a player who can use the offense’s various weapons to attack every level of the field. When a team cheats into the box to stop Wes Welker, he’ll go over the top to Demaryius Thomas. When both are covered, Manning will find tight end Julius Thomas. Teams need to choose where their gaps will be, making it a near-impossible matchup.
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Defensively, the Broncos are a talented team that generates a lot of pressure while protecting Manning. Denver has 26 sacks while allowing 13. The defensive key has been linebacker Shaun Phillips, who shouldered the burden while Von Miller was gone to start the season, with 7.5 total sacks.
But the Americans are still one really bad slip-up away from being in deep trouble. These odds will probably look the same after June鈥檚 two games 鈥?at home against T&T and away to Mexico 鈥?but a home qualifier against Costa Rica in September is hardly a gimme win. The USMNT wouldn鈥檛 even need to play that poorly to walk away from that game and the one in Honduras four days later with just one point. Those are tough enough matches that a couple of bad bounces or bad calls by the officials could make the difference.
The USMNT is now favored to get to the World Cup, but they still have a lot of work left to do. Those two November losses to Mexico and Costa Rica put them in a serious hole.