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Well-Rounded Broncos Defense Will be Tough Test for Nick Sirianni, Jalen Hurts

The Broncos defense is top 10 in every important defensive category

PHILADELPHIA — The Eagles offense has found its footing recently against a trio of teams that struggle to defend the run, a stretch that started with the Las Vegas Raiders, followed by a rout over the winless Detroit Lions, and finally a competitive loss against the Los Angeles Chargers.

Entering Week 10, all three of those teams are bottom five in the NFL when it comes to run support with the Raiders at No. 28, the Lions at 29, and the Chargers dead last at No. 32.

Over that three-game span, the Eagles rushed for 135 yards in Las Vegas, a gaudy 236 in Detroit, and 176 against the Chargers at Lincoln Financial Field as they morphed from a read-option spread team to more of a conventional play-action one.

That's 182.3 yards-per-game over the three-week sample size, a spectacular mark best highlighted by the fact that Baltimore currently leads the NFL in rushing at 161.6 yards-per-game.

The lighter landscape when it comes to defensive football for Nick Sirianni and Co. figures to end in Denver on Sunday, however.

Vic Fangio's Broncos are one of just three teams that rank in the league's top 10 when it comes to defending the run (98.3 ypg) and the pass (223.4), not to mention total defense (321.8).

The most important stat of them all is points allowed where Denver's 17.0 per game is the second-best mark in football.

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Even without Von Miller, who was recently traded to the Los Angeles Rams, the Broncos could be the best defense the Eagles face this season and certainly the most well-rounded to date.

Look at what they did to the Cowboys in Dallas, taking a 30-lead before a couple of late touchdowns by Dak Prescott and the offense made things look closer than they were.

Fangio is the architect and has been regarded as one of the NFL's best defensive minds for years.

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“They’re very sound,” Eagles offensive coordinator Shane Steichen said. “[Fangio has] been running his scheme for a long time. He gets those guys playing hard … they’re two veteran safeties [Justin Simmons and Kareem Jackson]. 

"They’ve played together for a while. They’re physical. Simmons is a rangy guy. Jackson is a heavy hitter in the box. He fills the run really good. And up front, they’re stout. They’re playing good football on defense. It’s going to be a heck of a challenge for us but we’re excited about it.”

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Both Steichen and head coach Nick Sirianni have faced Fangio defenses a handful of times and it's typically an Advil week because there are going to be some headaches.

"I always think with him, you see where they are ranked in run defense, they're always going to try to stop the run first," Sirianni said of Fangio on Wednesday. "And he does a good job of that, of taking away the run game or trying to take away the run game and do the things he needs to do to do that. There's a lot of different ways to do that.

"... They play hard. They're technically sound. Again, any time I kind of think about, ‘What do I want another coach to think about my team,’ I always want them to think we're fundamentally sound because I just think that's the biggest compliment you can give somebody. So, I always see his teams being fundamentally sound, stopping the run, and playing hard."

Fangio, like most defensive coordinators, has taken notice of Jalen Hurts' ability to run the football.

"I’ve been very impressed with him," said Fangio during a conference with Eagles media on Wednesday afternoon. "He’s had a big arm. He does a good job running their offense. He’s obviously very athletic. Runs the running game good where he can pull it and keep it or throw the RPO. 

"He’s very good at both of those. He’s probably as good as anyone in the league of doing that. And once he’s running, he’s a really good runner. He’s elusive, he’s strong. I think the Eagles have their quarterback."

-John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's EagleMaven and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John, alongside legendary sports-talk host Jody McDonald every morning from 8-10 on ‘Birds 365,” streaming live on both PhillyVoice.com and YouTube. John is also the host of his own show "Extending the Play" on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at jmcmullen44@gmail.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen

Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Eagle Maven and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles or www.eaglemaven.com and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.