The Denver Broncos finally got off the schneid last week against the Los Angeles Chargers, and with the Tennessee Titans coming to town this week, they have an excellent chance to get their second win of the season.
However, if they lose, this team will be 1-5 heading into a game against the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday night and will be heavily favored to drop to 1-6.
What can the Broncos do to avoid such a grizzly opening to the season? Let’s take a look.
1. Shutdown Delanie Walker
The Titans are a team with an offense almost entirely devoid of weapons. There are few teams in the league with a more barren offensive cupboard, but the armaments they employ can still make opposing defenses pay if allowed to get rolling.
This is especially true with Delanie Walker. He started off the week on the injury report but now appears to be full-go for Sunday’s game. Walker is one of the very best tight ends in the league, even in his old age.
To make matters worse, the Broncos have struggled to shut down opposing tight ends for years and it continues to be a problem in 2019, as evidenced by Darren Waller‘s seven receptions for 70 yards in the season opener.
If the Broncos are able to take Walker out of the game entirely, they should coast to a low-scoring victory. This season in games where Walker has at least five receptions, the Titans are 1-1 and have averaged 25 points per game. In games where Walker has been held under five receptions, the Titans are 1-2 and have averaged 16 points per game
2. Stuff the box. Eliminate Derrick Henry
The only other real weapon in the Titans’ offensive arsenal is Derrick Henry. He is the engine that drives Tennessee’s attack, and while he isn’t one of the league’s best backs, he could present Denver’s defense with serious problems.
The Broncos did just stop the Chargers’ ground-and-pound in its tracks, as they gained just 35 yards on 16 attempts. However, against Leonard Fournette, a runner very similar in style to Henry, the Broncos allowed 225 yards on 29 attempts.
If the Broncos’ run defense can come up big for the second straight week, the Tennessee offense will be left rudderless.
3. Win the turnover battle
This season, when Denver wins the turnover battle they’re undefeated, when they don’t, they’re 0-4. In direct contrast, when the Titans win the turnover battle, they’re 2-2. When they lose it, they’re winless.
The Titans are by no means the most talented team in the league, but they’re incredibly well coached by Mike Vrabel. They excel at making very few mistakes and capitalizing off their opponents’ miscues.
Tennessee’s biggest win (+30) came in Week 1 against the Browns when they won the turnover battle 3-0. Their biggest loss (-13) came in Week 3 against Jacksonville, in the only game this season where they lost the turnover battle.