Match-Up #1: Broncos defensive line vs. Panthers Offensive Line
Much has been made about the Broncos outside pass rush, and for good reason. Von Miller and Demarcus Ware are
arguably the most talented and decorated pair of outside rushers in the NFL. Behind that dynamic duo, we find rookie 1st round pick Shane Ray, Shaq Barrett and unheralded third year pro Lerentee McCray. There’s no denying the Broncos talent at this position, but the Broncos can’t rely on these players being their only consistent pass rush in the game.
Although the outside rush proved to be effective against many other quarterbacks, Cam Newton is a different animal. The newly crowned league MVP has accounted for 45 of the Panthers TD’s this year and 10 of those have come from his legs. The Panthers running game is very sophisticated, so much so that they intentionally design runs for Cam Newton on a regular basis.
Unlike traditional pocket passers like Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger, Cam Newton is athletic enough to evade the outside rush and make a run for extra yards. As well as he’s played this year, there is one sure fire way that the Broncos can effect his game. Get pressure on the inside.
Since signing his 4 year, 36 million dollar contract weeks ago, Derek Wolfe has only furthered his case for being one of the best 3-4 Defensive Ends in football. Along with soon to be paid(hopefully by the Broncos) Malik Jackson and third year Nose Tackle, Sylvester Williams, the Broncos defensive line must find a way to push the Panthers offensive line and collapse the pocket that Cam Newton must navigate through in order to effect the game. That will be no small feat, as the Panthers offensive line as been amongst the elite lines in the NFL this season.
To be specific, five time Pro Bowler Center Ryan Kalil anchors their tremendous Offensive Line with Guard Trai Turner having his first Pro Bowl season and their other Guard Andrew Norwell posting good numbers, as well. Their interior offensive line will be as good as any line they have faced this season and will not be an easy battle to win. Fortunately for the Broncos, their Offensive Line hasn’t come across a line as talented as the Broncos this season, either.
Regardless of the outcome, this will be a battle in the trenches that will be hard fought and whoever has the better deal will play a big factor in the outcome of the game.