Last week, the Denver Broncos held on late to win their first game at home against the Cincinnati Bengals. In Week 3, the Broncos have a much more difficult task ahead of them if they want remain atop the AFC West. They draw the Tennessee Titans on the road, a team that handily whipped the Baltimore Ravens last week. The Titans have a slew of weapons and it will take a complete game from the entire team to scrape out a victory.
Let's look at the match-ups and see what areas they will need to bear down in the most to pull off the victory.
The key to controlling the game against the Titans will be scoring on their first drive Sunday.
The Broncos with a mix of run and pass need to move the ball down the field and into the end zone in order to get the Titans back on their heels reacting instead of setting the tone.
If the Broncos can put up points and put the pressure on Matt Hasselbeck and the Titans it will make their jobs easier on defense.
One of the few benefits of the myriad of injuries the Broncos have faced in the first couple weeks of the season was that it forced the Broncos to be balanced.
The Broncos came into the game against the Bengals with only three wide receivers on the roster healthy enough to play. Early on in the game, tight end Julius Thomas and Eddie Royal were both injured. It got so bad that the Broncos brought in back up quarterback Tim Tebow as an emergency option and effectively a decoy on offense at wide receiver.
It made the Broncos run the ball with Willis McGahee.
The results were exceptional. McGahee eclipsed the 100-yard mark running the football, becoming the first Bronco to do that in a long time.
The key to controlling the football, sustaining long, time-consuming drives will be lots of inside hard-nosed running by McGahee.
In Week 1 against the Jaguars, the Titans had a tough time stopping Maurice Jones-Drew as he picked up the majority of his yards between the tackles. The Broncos need to stay inside and pound it at the Titans.
Shutting down the Titans' wide receiver Kenny Britt is easier said than done. Getting shutdown cornerback Champ Bailey back would go a long way in achieving this. If Champ is out for a second consecutive week, the Broncos will have a serious disadvantage in pass coverage.
In his two games so far, Britt has three touchdowns and in both games he had over 135 yards receiving. Getting pressure to Hasselbeck would also disrupt the rhythm between Hasselbeck and Britt.
Britt is one of the most explosive players in the NFL and if the Broncos struggle to contain him, it will open up running lanes for one of the best running backs in the game, Chris Johnson.
To pull this off, the defensive line needs to stop Johnson at the point of attack without using seven or eight men in the box.
The other marquee offensive weapon for the Titans is Chris Johnson.
Thus far this season his two outings have been a bit disappointing. However, do not be fooled by his low rushing totals.
Last season when the Broncos faced the Titans they found a way to stop Johnson, limiting him to only 53 yards rushing, averaging a meager 2.8 yards/attempt.
The Broncos have to repeat the success they had last year to have a chance in this game. They did a superb job stopping Cedric Benson last week against the Bengals and need to employ similar tactics against Johnson to have a chance.
Doing all of the above will go a long way for the Broncos. It will keep the Broncos in the game, put them in a position to win the game.
What will tip this game one way or the other will be the mental mistakes.
The Broncos made some key mistakes and had some unnecessary penalties late in the game against the Bengals that nearly cost them the game.
In this game, those types of errors will be the difference between barely winning and getting blown out. They can't give the Titans explosive offensive second chances by costly penalties if they want to win.