The Denver Broncos (1-0) will host the Indianapolis Colts (0-1) in Week 2 of the 2016 NFL regular season and all of the drama will be around how well Denver’s defense can contain and slow down Andrew Luck.
Normally, I try to break down two to three specific things that I feel will ultimately decide the game. Last week against the Carolina Panthers, I felt the game would be decided by how well the defense pressured Cam Newton and how well Trevor Siemian managed the offense in his first NFL start.
I felt like I got both of those right on the money. This week, I only see one problem for the Broncos to figure out and his name is Andrew Luck.
Sack City again, please
The Broncos did an excellent job of getting after the quarterback in Week 1, although they had difficulty making the sacks and stops for losses. The interior rush was nonexistent as the void left by Malik Jackson’s departure in free agency was clearly evident against the Panthers.
Still, the Broncos defense was making the plays when it needed to. If it weren’t for a ticky tack penalty on fourth and 21, the Broncos would not have needed a miracle missed field goal from Graham Gano to preserve victory.
DeMarcus Ware led the way with 1.5 sacks in just 31 snaps on defense. Inside the Pylon broke down his best move of the day, when Ware exploded off the line, dipping his shoulder under Michael Oher for a big sack on third down.
Check how quickly @demarcusware gets around the edge for the sack... #Kickoff2016 #Broncos https://t.co/JtPiPxVfcA— NFL (@NFL) September 9, 2016
Von Miller added a sack for himself as well as the Broncos Sack City defense got the job done.
Getting after Luck is going to be the single most important aspect of Wade Phillips game plan. He’ll make plays, but if he is constantly feeling the pressure he will likely also make some bad plays.
That is when the No Fly Zone can get a little playmaking in. Chris Harris Jr. did it last week with this amazing tip/pick to setup the Broncos to score a go ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Cam's pass is TIPPED.— NFL (@NFL) September 9, 2016
And PICKED by @ChrisHarrisJr.@Broncos ball DEEP in @Panthers territory. #Kickoff2016. https://t.co/sxdIlJKnje
The secondary definitely feeds off the success that the front seven generates in the pass rush. If the Broncos defense can keep up their amazing string of impressive defensive performances, then we could see them sitting at 2-0 with wins over two likely playoff contenders.
The pass rush is my key to this game. That’s it.
There will be other factors in play, such as turnover ratio and the running game, but if the pass rush isn’t there then the Broncos could find themselves in a hole pretty quick against a quarterback like Luck.
That would be the last thing Gary Kubiak would want to have placed on the shoulders of his young, inexperienced quarterback.