Denver Broncos vs. Tennessee Titans: Four Matchups That Can Turn the Game
The Denver Broncos knew that a trip to Tennessee would not be an easy way to start off their road schedule. Making matters worse is the fact that they are now facing a Titans team brimming with confidence after a shocking win over the Baltimore Ravens.
The Titans earned that victory, but many would argue that the Ravens defense was not on top of their game and the Titans were aided by a few uncharacteristic turnovers.
The Broncos, on the other hand, did just enough things correctly to score a victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. Considering the injury woes that were facing the team, it is hard not to give the Broncos some credit for the accomplishment despite the relative lack of respect for the talent of the opponent.
It will be tough to predict which team continues to roll and which reverts back to their Week 1 form, but here are a few match-ups with the potential to sway the game's final result.
Kenny Britt vs. Rahim Moore
The Broncos are likely going to enter this game without the services of Champ Bailey. This is not the ideal situation for the Broncos when the next opponent is boasting the budding relationship of veteran QB Matt Hasselbeck and talented young wide receiver Kenny Britt.
In a perfect world, Champ would be given one job and that would be to shut down Britt all game. Broncos fans know that this is far from a perfect world.
In what can only be considered a very "Un-Ravenlike" performance, Britt was able to move freely around the field last weekend. What seemed to be lacking was the punishing power that the Ravens usually deal out to most opponents compliments of Ed Reed and Ray Lewis.
In order for the Broncos to find success in shutting down Britt, they will need to utilize the power and ball hawking ability of Rahim Moore to compensate for the absence of Champ Bailey.
Nobody is advocating anything illegal, but if Moore brings the hat a few times it will not be surprising to see Kenny Britt's arms get shorter each time he goes up for a catch.
Kyle Orton vs. Cortland Finnegan
If Kyle Orton is going to come out and say that Cortland Finnegan is a "cheap" player than he had better be prepared for Finnegan to be licking his chops at a chance to get even.
Orton needs to be prepared for this and be on his best behavior when trying to throw the ball towards or around Finnegan.
Luckily the Broncos should have Brandon Lloyd back to torment the Titans like he did a season ago, but they will be without Eddie Royal who had an equally impressive showing in Week 4 last season.
Orton needs to be careful about how he distributes the ball to Brandon Lloyd and Eric Decker, as both Titan corners have proven that they are no slouches in coverage.
The Titans were able to get to Joe Flacco multiple times last week and Orton has been less than impressive against a strong rush, which Titans defensive end Dave Ball is sure to provide.
Essentially this boils down to Orton eliminating his mistakes, or suffering the consequences like Joe Flacco did.
DJ Williams vs. Chris Johnson
After such a well covered and hotly discussed hold-out, Chris Johnson is not off to the start that the Titans had anticipated. Still, nobody expects the swoon to last for long and most experts agree that a game against the defensively challenged Broncos is just what the doctor ordered.
To be fair, the Ravens admitted that their sole focus was to stop Johnson last week and more often than not the Ravens can succeed in achieving those kinds of goals. Their singular focus might have been their downfall, but it doesn't necessarily signal that Johnson has lost a step since most running backs in the league wouldn't produce with that kind of target on their back either.
The Broncos were woeful against Darren McFadden and lucky that the Bengals didn't decide to pound Cedric Benson like they normally do.
Despite an inspired performance by Wesley Woodyard last week, the Broncos need DJ Williams' speed and ability to cover mistakes on the defensive line in order to help mitigate the damage that Johnson can cause.
If DJ has been rushed back too soon it will be painfully apparent, and the Broncos may allow a sleeping giant to awaken right on top of them.
Matt Hassekbeck vs. Broncos Pass Rush
The best way to slow down the emergent Tennessee passing game is to stop it before it starts.
There is no doubt that Matt Hasselbeck is an above average veteran quarterback, and in the absence of a pass rush from the Baltimore Ravens (which is still puzzling) he was able to carve up a very good secondary.
This means that Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil need to utilize their speed rushing to get pressure on Hasselbeck and force mistakes. It would seem that the power rushing attack of the Ravens was stymied by the Titans offensive line, but perhaps they are not prepared for the speed and creativity that Dennis Allen can throw at them.
The responsibility does not rest solely with Miller and Dumervil since the Broncos were fairly successful in slowing down Andy Dalton when they finally brought pressure from unlikely sources such as Jonathan Wilhite.
Clearly, if the Broncos cannot find ways to bring pressure to confuse Matt Hasselbeck, he will make them pay.