Everyone and their grandmother should be aware of Denver's game plan heading into today's game, especially with Knowshon Moreno unlikely to play. The Broncos are going to air it out more than any team the Titans have played so far this year. Even though Kyle Orton only threw the ball 25 times in last week's game, Denver drew up 46 passing plays in their week one loss to the Raiders. Even a median of these two numbers ends up as a healthy 35 attempts, and I expect that we'll see even more than that.
Even with Eddie Royal and Demaryius Thomas missing the game, Kyle Orton is going to probably get at least 35 chances to chuck it up to Brandon Lloyd this afternoon. How the young cornerbacks and inconsistent safeties respond is key to avoiding what I would consider an upset.
While we can agree that the pass rush will also be important in keeping Orton and the Broncos off the board this week, some solid coverage from the corners especially would go a long way to getting a win on Sunday.
It would appear as though Tennessee has the advantage here coming in to the game. Just a quick check on some of the numbers the secondary has put up this year should suffice. According to Football Outsiders, the Titans' defense is ranked third overall and, consequently, also third against the pass this year. Honestly, I'd be more surprised if they weren't. Luke McCown's week one performance wasn't exactly setting the world on fire despite the Jaguars coming away with a win and Joe Flacco was totally off his game last weekend as he was picked off twice and pressured all game by a newly restored defensive line. Just for the record, the number is -24.4%. Remember that when evaluating defenses, negative numbers are better because positive numbers indicate more scoring. The farther below zero they get, the better the defenses are. Only the Jets and Lions have been stronger against the pass this year. Never thought we'd be saying that heading into week three.
Something else that works in Tennessee's favor is that while the Broncos like to throw it, they haven't been very good at it this year. Going back to football outsiders, the Broncos rank twenty-third in the league in passing efficiency with a 12.7%. Teams that rank ahead of them include the Jets, Cardinals, Redskins, and Bengals. In case you were interested, the Titans do as well. Even the advanced stats love Tennessee this year. By traditional means, the Broncos aren't much better. They rank nineteenth in the league in yards per game this year. So while the secondary might not have an especially daunting task of shutting down a Tom Brady or a Drew Brees this weekend, if they can successfully negate the passing attack, this game should be in the bag for the Titans unless Willis McGahee plans to have a career day (Unlikely given that the Titans are yet to yield a 100 yard rusher after facing Ray Rice and Maurice Jones-Drew.)