By HCR Staff | September 14, 2020
Here’s what we’ll be focusing on in tonight’s contest;
The Broncos Are In Year 2 Of Vic Fangio’s Defensive Scheme – Will There Be Improvement? Fangio is a proven defensive coach, but he just suffered a huge setback with the loss of elite defender Von Miller. Offensively, it’s well known the Titans’ offense runs through RB Derrick Henry. That reliance helps Fangio; there’s less guessing about what the Titans like to do. Fangio is a great schemer, so we expect the Broncos to play well defensively, even without Miller. Broncos players have greater scheme familiarity in 2020, and we think it helps them to offset the loss of Miller. Besides, even Fangio himself will be more comfortable being the head coach; early in the season last year, he coached as if he were surprised that someone actually chose him as a head coach. He’s more settled into the position now, and more comfortable with his own authority. For an old timer like Fangio, this is important.
Can The Broncos OL Block The Tennessee Defensive Front At All? Second year Broncos QB Drew Lock finished the season on an up note in 2019, but any further ascension is going to depend on his line play. Second year G Dalton Risner is a rising star, but LT Garrett Bolles is far from a sure thing. The center is a rookie, and the right tackle spot will be manned by journeymen. We don’t like this matchup at all for Denver. We favor Fangio trying to help Lock by being patient with the running game, and since he’s got 2 dependable backs in Philip Lindsay and Melvin Gordon, this is a safe bet. He’s got to help his OL get confidence and rhythm. If the Broncos come out throwing it all over the lot, we’ll be surprised. They’ve got speedsters in rookie WRs Jerry Jeudy, KJ Hamler and TE Noah Fant, but early on, that won’t matter if they can’t block a stout Titans front.
Neither Head Coach Is A ‘By The Book’ Game Manager, So Expect Some Unusual Tactical Decisions. Against their peers, and even with Titans’ head coach’s Mike Vrabel’s success last season, neither head coach is in the Belichick-Payton-Harbaugh class of game management – yet. These two like to…umm, let’s say ‘mix it up’ once in a while. That means a head scratching 2-point after touchdown try, or a weird 4th down attempt. Remember, they’re defensive head coaches, and in our view, that type can get emotional. And that affects decision-making. It’s an opener, and as we saw yesterday, not much played out according to conventional wisdom.
Prediction: Denver 23-20 over Tennessee.