For being hyped all week by just about everyone that talked about this game, I was a bit disappointed when I watched the game film. The Tennessee Titans currently rank #7 in the NFL against the pass, but it seems like one giant mirage to me.
Wanna know why the Tits are #7 against pass? Big Ben, Schaub, G. Smith, A. Smith, Kaepernick, Clemens, Luck no Wayne 2x, McGloin #foolsgold— Mike G (@Bronco_Mike251) December 7, 2013
That list does not strike fear into the heart of Bronco Mike, I'm sorry. They did play Phillip Rivers and held him to 184 yards passing, but he also completed 83% of his passes. They did play Russell Wilson and held him without a TD pass but he also went 23-31 for 257 yards.
Schematically they play a good mix of man and zone coverages. When they play man, I don't see the sort of nasty press physicality that has given the Broncos issues.
Up front Karl Klug (97) and Jurrell Casey (99) provide a formidable challenge for the Broncos with an interior pass rush that has accounted for 11 sacks. Something that gave the Colts interior linemen problems which the Broncos seem good at defending is the inside stunt. From what I can see both have a few different moves they like to use.
Jason McCourty should provide a good matchup on the outside either for Demaryius Thomas or Eric Decker depending on how the Broncos align their offense. On 73 targets he has allowed 45 receptions for 522 yards and 1 TD. His longest pass allowed of the season was 44 yards. He does not tend to give up big plays in the passing game.
On the other side, Alterraun Verner has played a bit of the role of shutdown corner with only 24 receptions on 55 targets and 5 interceptions.
FS Michael Griffin will play centerfield and consequently does not have a lot of targets. On the other side, Bernard Pollard will man the strongside. He is more of a liability against the pass. He is part of the safety tandem last year that successfully played two-deep and kept any big plays from happening in the Broncos/Ravens playoff game. With Pollard you also have a heavy hitter who has many trophies on his wall from big hits, so hopefully we can avoid any injuries to our receiving corps. Since we are not the New England Patriots though, it shouldn't be an issue--this man is The Bonafide Patriot Killer.
Broncos Offense vs. Titans Defense
When the Broncos Pass: Advantage Broncos
If they Titans want to play zone they will get eaten up. If they play man, they better be more physical than what I saw because that same nastiness that Dennard and Talib brought from New England didn't show up on tape. Could the cold help them out a bit? Only if you believe that nonsense the idiot media has been trumpeting about Manning and the cold all week.
They are simply overmatched and outclassed. Unless that interior pass rush steps up and makes life hell for Manning, this will be a long day on the field for the Titan secondary.
When the Broncos Run: Advantage Broncos
The Titans sit in the middle of the pack giving up 114 yards per game on the ground. Over the course of the last couple of weeks, the Broncos have put up over 400 yards on the ground. I'll take the hot hand and right now that is the Broncos running game.
Wild Card: Turnovers
As usual, the biggest question with this Broncos offense is will they fumble and continue to turn the ball over. Against an inferior opponent in bad weather, that is the quickest way to lose the game. It is no mistake that both Broncos losses are due to an unfortunate bounce of the ball. We all know fumble recoveries are random, putting the ball on the ground in the first place is not. As of last week, the Broncos sit at -4 in the turnover differential. That will not cut it in the playoffs.
Make Manning uncomfortable, get pressure from the middle on a consistent basis, otherwise the Titans do not have the talent to man up with the Broncos skill players.