Win, and the Denver Broncos might be one game out of the AFC Playoff Picture. Lose, and the season might be over.

These are the stakes for the Broncos’ impending matchup with the Tennessee Titans. Which matchups will determine whether the battle breaks their way, or favors Tennessee? Let’s look.

Denver Broncos run defense vs. Derrick Henry

The Denver Broncos’ defense has arguably been the best in the NFL.

Even despite losing Ronald Darby for the season, and missing Justin Simmons for a healthy portion of their games, the coverage has been tremendous. The pass rush, meanwhile, has arguably been the best in the NFL.

That said, the unit is not without its Achilles Heel, and that glaring weakness appears to be against the run.

In their last time out, the defense allowed the Jacksonville Jaguars to rush for 191 yards. In three of their last five showings, the defense has allowed over 150 rushing yards.

If the Broncos’ front-seven performs like that against the Titans, Tennessee will cruise to victory.

Advantage: Tennessee Titans

Kareem Jackson vs. Tennessee Titans’ weapons

To accomplish the aforementioned goal of slowing Henry, the Denver Broncos will likely load up the box vs. Tennessee with eight-or-more defenders on a large majority of their downs.

As a result, Kareem Jackson — with Caden Sterns on injured reserve and Justin Simmons being a limited participant in practice this week — might have a lot of pressure on his shoulders to manage the Titans’ paltry array of weapons, with so many of Denver’s defensive assets focused on stopping on Henry.

Outside of Robert Woods, the Tennessee Titans don’t have a single weapon on their offense with 15 receptions, or with more than 150 yards. Even Woods has produced just one touchdown and 256 yards off 22 receptions, and, considering that Patrick Surtain II has allowed just 12 receiving yards total over the last three weeks, it seems likely the Titans will look to attack elsewhere.

If Jackson turns in a top-end performance, it could make Tennessee’s attack painfully one-dimensional. If he doesn’t, it opens the door for the Titans to exploit the Denver Broncos’ elite defense.

Advantage: Denver Broncos

Denver Broncos’ IOL vs. Tennessee Titans’ IDL

One of the greatest weak points on the entire Denver Broncos roster has been the interior of the offensive line.

Quinn Meinerz continues to look like a promising piece, but Dalton Risner and Lloyd Cushenberry III remain the problems they’ve been since 2020. It’s not purely coincidence that the offense immediately had their best performance following Cushenberry exiting the lineup in London.

With Graham Glasgow installed at center, and given the necessary time to prepare, this might be the best shape Denver’s interior offensive line has been in all season, but they’ll tasked with facing the best defensive front the Broncos have seen all season.

Even without Jeffery Simmons, the Titans will pose a challenge to Denver’s run game. Teair Tart has been an underrated star this season, and the Tennessee front, as a whole, leads the NFL in run-stop win rate.

For the Broncos to get something out of their offense this week, their line will have to hold strong against that talented Titans front.

Advantage: Tennessee Titans