The Denver Broncos and Arizona Cardinals are looking forward to getting back on the field following their byes.
While the Broncos have had plenty of time to think about losing their Super Bowl rematch, the unbeaten Cardinals are hoping to pick up where they left off Sunday when they visit Mile High Stadium.
Denver (2-1) held on for seven-point wins over Indianapolis and Kansas City before suffering a 26-20 overtime loss at Seattle in Week 3. Peyton Manning found Jacob Tamme for a 26-yard touchdown with 18 seconds left in regulation and converted a game-tying 2-point conversion, but the Broncos gave up a TD to the defending Super Bowl champions on the first possession of OT.
"Everybody's going to go off and just think about this past game," wideout Emmanuel Sanders told the team's official website. "I hope we come back with an attitude that this is not going to happen again and hopefully we finish 15-1."
Things won't be much easier against the Cardinals, who are on the verge of opening 4-0 for the second time in three seasons despite playing back-to-back games without starting quarterback Carson Palmer. Arizona is tied for second in the NFL with 15.0 points allowed per game.
While his team has yet to lose, coach Bruce Arians knows that doesn't mean much just yet. The Cardinals, who won their first four games in 2012 before dropping their next nine, are trying to keep their focus on the task at hand on a daily basis.
"The biggest thing is they respect the process," Arians said. "They come to work every day. They focus on that day and we get better each day and we don't look to the future. We have to guard against that as we get better and people start patting you on the back."
Palmer will be held out again due to a damaged nerve in his throwing shoulder. Drew Stanton has completed only 51.6 percent of his passes but has yet to commit a turnover.
"I'm just so fortunate and blessed really to be able to be in this opportunity," Stanton said, "because most guys that go four years without a start, they're not around the league too long."
Stanton threw for 244 yards and connected with John Brown on a pair of touchdowns in a 23-14 victory over San Francisco in Week 3. Michael Floyd had five catches for 114 yards for his second 100-yard game of the year.
The Cardinals have proven especially stingy against the run, yielding 2.9 yards per carry to rank third in the league. That doesn't bode well for Montee Ball and the Broncos' ground game, which is 27th in the NFL with 75.3 rushing yards per game.
Denver ran the ball 20 times for 36 yards against the Seahawks.
"Right now, we need a lot of work," said Ball, averaging a lackluster 3.4 yards per carry. "It starts up front, it starts with the tight ends, and especially with the running backs, too. Collectively, we all need to sit down and really focus on it. And we will."
The Broncos rank 27th in total defense with 390.7 yards allowed per game, but they should get a boost with Danny Trevathan set to return. Last year's leading tackler, Trevathan missed the first three games after fracturing his leg during practice Aug. 12.
"Man, we're so happy to have him back," fellow linebacker Nate Irving said. "He's the heartbeat of the defense, baby! It feels good to see him out here running around. It's pretty good to know that he's healthy and everything."
Manning is one touchdown pass away from becoming the second player to reach 500 and stands nine behind Brett Favre for the all-time record. He's thrown 55 TDs and eight interceptions in 18 regular-season home games with the Broncos, going 16-2.
He's developed a strong rapport with Sanders, who has team highs of 25 catches and 334 yards through his first three games with Denver. Demaryius Thomas is averaging just 47.0 receiving yards after ranking fourth in the NFL last year at 89.4.
The Broncos are 7-1-1 against Arizona after dropping the last meeting 43-13 on Dec. 12, 2010. The Cardinals, though, are 0-4 in Denver while getting outscored 106-32.