3 Key matchups for Denver Broncos’ Monday night bout vs. Seattle Seahawks

Denver Broncos outside linebacker Bradley Chubb (55) hurries Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) in the second quarter at Broncos Stadium at Mile High.
Sep 9, 2018; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos outside linebacker Bradley Chubb (55) hurries Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) in the second quarter at Broncos Stadium at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL season is finally here after much fanfare and build up, and the Denver Broncos are slated for a spicy revenge duel up in Seattle against the Seahawks.

Which matchups will determine who will win and who will lose, and who should be favored in those crucial matchups? Let’s look.

D.K. Metcalf vs. Patrick Surtain II

Yes, all the headlines will understandably center on Russell Wilson’s return home to Seattle and the drama and revenge that messy divorce has fueled.

Don’t get it twisted thoug, this is the premiere matchup of the game.

D.K. Metcalf has already proven himself as one of the league’s most gifted young receivers, earning second-team All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors in 2020, with legit 4.3 speed and a godlike build that was seemingly carved from marble.

He might not be the most crafty and nimble route runner, but he doesn’t have to be, thanks his ability to take the top off the defense, win contested catches, create after the catch, and benefit the rushing attack as a blocker.

He boasts a unique challenge for any cornerback, so Patrick Surtain II will have his work cut out for him. Fortunately for Denver Broncos fans, Surtain is an athletic freak in his own right, earing a 9.96 RAS score, which translates to him being a 99.6th-percentile athlete at the cornerback position.

Surtain isn’t just an unparalleled athlete at the position though, he also possesses an inexplicable level of technical refinement and football IQ given his youth, and those high-level mental abilities translate to the tape.

The edge in this matchup should go to Surtain, as he can win playing any style, whereas Metcalf is elite at a few select things. That said, Metcalf has the ability to score from any place on the field, and an explosive play from Metcalf might be the only way Geno Smith and Co. are able to score through the air. With that in mind, Surtain will have to be near-perfect for the Broncos to win this individual matchup.

Advantage: Broncos

Seattle Seahawks DL vs. Denver Broncos OL

One of the defining stories of the Denver Broncos preseason was how much the offensive line struggled in its transition to the zone-blocking system.

Now, with how much this blocking scheme relies on co-operation and synchronicity, it’s understandable that the learning curve appeared steep, but that doesn’t absolve it from being a problem.

This extends beyond the line too.

While in Green Bay, Nathaniel Hackett had the luxury of having wide receivers and tight ends that could be major contributors to the ground attack as blockers, and whether or not he has that in Denver is something we have yet to see. Courtland Sutton can contribute there certainly, but the Broncos probably want to use him outside, where the blocking will be less critical, and the other skill position players are pretty unproven as blockers.

They’ll also be tasked with facing a fairly formidable front for the Seahawks. Poona Ford, Al Woods, and Shelby Harris (in a revenge game of his own) could create a lot of problems for the Broncos’ interior line, which still has a lot to prove.

If the Broncos’ starting line is dominated the same way Denver’s second unit was all preseason long, it could sink the city’s hopes of finally having an exciting offense.

Advantage: Seahawks

Seattle Seahawks run game vs. Denver Broncos front seven

At his core, Pete Carroll wants his offense to be a ball-control, ground-and-pound, conservative unit. There might be some sick part of him deep down that is glad he’ll finally get to lean into that identity even further this season.

With that in mind, the Denver Broncos must place a premium on defending Seattle’s ground attack.

After many lackluster seasons, Rashaad Penny finally looked like a first-round pick down the stretch of last season, averaging 170 yards from scrimmage and 1.3 touchdowns per game over the final three games of last season.

They also might have highly touted rookie Kenneth Walker III in the backfield, which will provide the Broncos with an added challenge.

As a result, Denver’s run defense will have an excellent opportunity to prove themselves this week, after a disappointing 2021 season.

They might have to prove themselves while shorthanded though, as run-stuffing inside linebacker Josey Jewell has been listed as ‘doubtful’ for the game, and new addition Randy Gregory is listed as ‘questionable’. Without those two, the Denver Broncos might have to rely on Justin Strnad and Baron Browning, and what’s the biggest question mark about both Strnad and Browning? Their ability to defend the run.

If the Broncos come up short here, it could provide the Seahawks with the offensive spark they need.

Fortunately, the rise of Jonas Griffith, addition of D.J. Jones and return of a healthy Mike Purcell and Bradley Chubb should reign supreme and outweigh the loss of Jewell.

Advantage: Broncos

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