The Denver Broncos will host the Tennessee Titans on Monday, Sept. 14 at 7:10 p.m. MT at Empower Field at Mile High on ESPN’s Monday Night Football. Here’s our quick preview of the AFC showdown.
Broncos’ keys to victory: When Denver shutout Tennessee 16-0 at home last year, Titans RB Derrick Henry was limited to 28 rushing yards on 15 carries, his second-lowest carry total in 2019. Henry went on to lead the NFL in rushing attempts and rushing yards last season. When the Broncos shut Henry down and built a lead, they forced the Titans to throw and abandon the most productive element of their offense. A similar formula should work again in Week 1. If Denver limits Henry’s production, Tennessee will likely struggle to move the ball. On offense, the Broncos will want to establish their own rushing attack, giving RBs Melvin Gordon and Phillip Lindsay plenty of carries to take some pressure off second-year QB Drew Lock. In passing situations, Denver’s offense will feature first-round draft pick Jerry Jeudy, who will likely serve as the team’s No. 2 WR behind Pro Bowler Courtland Sutton.
Titans’ keys to victory: Henry needs to turn a better performance than he did against the Broncos last season. Denver LB Todd Davis, who led the team with 134 tackles last season, is still recovering from a calf injury. Tennessee should take advantage of the Broncos’ weakened defense and run the ball right up the middle on Monday Night Football, giving Henry 18-plus carries. On defense, the Titans should pressure Lock often to try to rattle him. In five starts last year, Lock was effective when given time but the Broncos’ offensive line features two mediocre tackles. If Tennessee can get in Lock’s face and force him to get the ball out of his hands sooner than he wants to, the Titans should be able to force some turnovers and frustrate Denver’s inexperienced offense.
Matchup to watch: Titans OLB Vic Beasley vs. Broncos OTs Garett Bolles and Elijah Wilkinson. Beasley is a savvy veteran with 37.5 career sacks on his resume. Bolles and Wilkinson committed 16 combined penalties last season and allowed 12 sacks. On Paper, Beasley looks like a mismatch for the Broncos’ tackles.
Who wins? The Broncos have the second-best winning percentage at home since 1970 (.694) and they are 18-2 in their last 20 home openers. Denver won’t have the same home-field advantage without fans at the stadium but the Broncos still have the advantage of playing a mile above sea level. Broncos 24, Titans 16.