These individual matchups could go a long way in deciding who wins this key AFC West battle this Sunday.
Week 5 against Pittsburgh saw several matchups go the way of the Pittsburgh Steelers. In a must-win game against the Las Vegas Raiders, the Denver Broncos have to have several key matchups swing back in favor of Denver in order to pull out this divisional battle. These individual matchups will be critical in this game, and have to be “wins” in favor of Denver.
Dre’Mont Jones & Von Miller vs RG Alex Leatherwood and RT Brandon Parker
Dre’Mont Jones & Von Miller haven’t been lighting up the box scores week in and week out, but this is a matchup that should easily be in favor of the dynamic Denver duo. Alex Leatherwood has been shuffled around the Vegas OL (a coaching problem, considering his problems are technique-based and not postional) and moved inside to right guard last week….against Akiem Hicks. Yes, really. Dre’Mont Jones remains so incredibly disruptive with his quickness that hasn’t yet shown up in the stat sheet. If there ever was a game for that trend to change, it’d be this one.
As for Von Miller against right tackle Brandon Parker, well…
#Raiders OT Brandon Parker got the start at right tackle in Week 5 (over Alex Leatherwood).
He allowed 3 pressures, 3 hurries and had 3 penalties vs. Chicago.
Finished as the team’s lowest-graded player (36.0).
— Marcus Mosher (@Marcus_Mosher) October 11, 2021
This is another great opportunity for Von to be the disruptive force we know he can be. This matchup will probably be the easiest he has to face in the next several weeks.
Maxx Crosby vs Bobby Massie
We know how effective Maxx Crosby is as a pass-rusher (Baltimore found that out the hard way). With how much Denver’s offensive line has struggled in recent weeks, this is a matchup that Denver has to remain in control of. Crosby’s production has mainly come across from poor tackle matchups so far this season, and somehow, Bobby Massie might just be the best right tackle Crosby has played so far this season.
Massie has been mostly serviceable, but he’s on a tough sled of games against Odafe Oweh, TJ Watt, and now Crosby all in a row. Noah Fant will chip in and help him, but Massie bringing his A-game for this has to happen if the Broncos want to keep the passing offense humming.
Henry Ruggs III vs Kyle Fuller
I wrote this piece up in my article discussing whether the Broncos should explore trading Kyle Fuller, and it’s very important in this matchup.
Kyle Fuller plays a significant portion of snaps on the “right” side of the field (relative to the quarterback). It’s not a coincidence that Denver ranks second in DVOA in passes going to that side of the field this season-including a league-leading -55.5% DVOA against short passes to the right. The concern of course is the 27th-ranked DVOA on “deep right” passes….He’s playing mostly everything well and justifying his role on the team. The one area of concern seems to be getting beat deep.
In case you didn’t know, Henry Ruggs is one of the best deep-threats in the game, and Derek Carr isn’t afraid to get him the ball. He’s averaging over 20 yards a catch and averages a targeted air yards of 16.4 per Next Gen Stats. The Broncos will be mixing up personnel, especially with a healthy Ronald Darby, but if Kyle Fuller draws up Henry Ruggs, the deep ball is a concern to monitor in this one.
Tim Patrick vs Amik Robertson
Tim Patrick has been playing some outstanding ball for the Broncos so far. Patrick ranks 5th in Defense-Adjusted Yards Above Replacement, or DYAR; 2nd in Defense-Adjusted Value Over Average, or DVOA; 18th in Effective Yards, and 4th in catch rate. With the slew of injuries at corner, the Raiders seem likely to start Amik Robertson at outside corner this week.
The reason why this matchup is advantageous for the Broncos? Tim Patrick is 6’4. Amik Robertson? Just 5’8. That should be exploited quite often for Denver in this game by OC Pat Shurmur (emphasis on should). Like so:
TIM PATRICK x2⃣ pic.twitter.com/gd8gfk1uZi
— PFF (@PFF) December 7, 2020
Javonte Williams vs Denzel Perryman
The reason why I’m excited for this one is Perryman is the “enforcer” of the Raiders linebacker group. He’s the one leading the charge in run defense, as Cory Littleton has always been a coverage ‘backer. Perryman leads the NFL in total tackles and leads all linebackers in defensive stops the last three weeks with 17.
Perryman gets to face the tackle-breaking machine known as Javonte Williams this week. He’s forced 19 missed tackles on runs this season, tied for 3rd in the NFL, and is 2nd in forced missed tackles per attempt at .35. The leader in total tackles and run stops the last few weeks in Denzel Perryman versus the sledgehammer running style of Javonte Williams. What an enticing matchup!