(Image courtesy of Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
This will be the matchup of the day to watch—Doug Martin, one of the game's most talented young running backs, going up against the Broncos, who boast the No. 4 ranked defensive unit this season.
“Being a rookie, I haven’t seen a whole lot of (Martin)," Broncos Head Coach John Fox said after practice on Wednesday. "On a short look, you turn on that Raider tape, and he’s efficient. He’s got good power, even in tight spots. He can take you the distance when he gets into the secondary, so he’s definitely on our radar.”
He better be on their radar.
This season, Martin has rushed for 1,050 yards, the fourth-highest total among all running backs. Meanwhile, the Broncos' defense has allowed 98.7 yards per game (ninth-best) this season.
Last week, Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles rushed for 107 yards against the Broncos, but Denver's defense kept him out of the end zone and ultimately rendered Kansas City's running game ineffective by building a lead—forcing the Chiefs to throw.
If the Broncos can build a lead early against the Buccaneers, Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller will be able to pin their ears back and get after the quarterback.
"(Martin will) definitely be our focus," said outside linebacker Wesley Woodyard earlier this week. "They’re coming in with a good rushing offense. What they do, they’ve got a pretty good scheme. We’re excited for the challenge.”
Will they be up to that challenge? We'll find out come Sunday.