The Denver Broncos and Tennessee Titans will be the last two teams to play their opener of the 2020 NFL season. They will play the late game on Monday night. Tennessee is favored by 2.5 points on the road, with an over/under of 41.5 points.
For the Broncos, it’s been a struggle since they won Super Bowl 50. Vic Fangio’s first season in charge was plagued by a 0-4 start to the season and three two-point losses. However, the Broncos won four of their final five games, creating some momentum heading into 2020.
Meanwhile, the Titans were the biggest surprise of the 2019 season. They reached the AFC Championship Game by knocking off both the Patriots and Ravens on the road. Tennessee must now deal with the added pressure of being a team that is expected to compete among the elite teams in the AFC.
There’s no secret regarding what the Titans want to do offensively. They will give teams a healthy dose of Derrick Henry, who rushed for more than 1,500 yards last season and carried the Tennessee offense on his back during the playoffs. Ryan Tannehill was also crucial for the Titans last year after taking over the starting role from Marcus Mariota. Tannehill completed 70% of his passes in 2019, and after signing a massive contract, the Titans will lean on him a little more, especially as opposing teams are likely to focus on Henry.
Meanwhile, the Denver defense suffered a devastating blow on the eve of the season when Von Miller was placed on IR. The Broncos were hoping that Miller and Bradley Chubb would form one of the best pass-rushing duos in the league. The Broncos have changed those plans and are instead leaning on former Titans defensive lineman Jurrell Casey to anchor the front-7. They are also optimistic that AJ Bouye can help the secondary replace former Pro Bowler Chris Harris. The Titans’ saving grace could be Justin Simmons, who is one of the best safeties in the NFL.
Lock It Down
Coincidence or not, the Broncos won four of five down the stretch in 2019 after rookie Drew Lock became the starting quarterback. Lock is now poised to lead Denver into 2020 in his first full season as the starter. Most of Denver’s receiving targets have fewer than three years of experience in the league, including rookie receiver Jerry Jeudy, who will need to be an integral part of the offense right away. There are also lingering concerns about Denver’s offensive line. However, if the Broncos can sort out those issues, the backfield tandem of Phillip Lindsay and Melvin Gordon should take some pressure off Lock.
Led by Lock, the Broncos will be up against a Tennessee defense which was underappreciated last season during the Titans’ playoff run. With the loss of Casey and Logan Ryan, there are several holes to fill. The Titans still look strong in the secondary, although they will need a strong effort from Harold Landry this year to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
Keep Things Close
Most of the action in this game has favored the Titans, which means it’s best to go in the other direction. Keep in mind that the Broncos typically lost close games last season. Also, the Titans aren’t the kind of team to blow out their opponents. Take a chance on the Broncos as home underdogs on Monday night.
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