Denver Broncos: Key Matchups for Week One vs. Chargers

DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 24: Outside linebacker Von Miller
DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 24: Outside linebacker Von Miller /
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Domata Peko
CINCINNATI, OH – DECEMBER 4: Domata Peko #94 of the Cincinnati Bengals celebrates as he walks off of the field after defeating the Philadelphia Eagles 32-14 at Paul Brown Stadium on December 4, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /
  • Domata Peko vs. Melvin Gordon

The biggest move the Broncos made by adding Domata Peko was to the inside of the defensive line. In past seasons, the Broncos ran with “Pot Roast” and most recently, Sylvester Williams. Sly held it down on the inside during Denver’s championship run.

Since Williams’ departure to the Tennessee Titans, the nose tackle position has been soft. Opposing teams have taken advantage, using the run game to counteract the Broncos elite secondary. That also left game-wreckers like Miller, ineffective in rushing the passer.

Peko’s job is to plug in the gaps, and that’s a necessity going up against Melvin Gordon. He was a Pro-Bowler last season. Gordon was just three yards away from a 1,000-yard season with ten rushing touchdowns.

If Peko can cause a disturbance on the inside and disrupt the run game, that will force Phillip Rivers and the Chargers to play to our strengths in the secondary. Not only that, but a strong force on the interior defensive line can collapse the pocket, and provide more opportunities for the front seven to make big plays (sacks, turnovers, etc.).

Next: Broncos Sign Jonathan Williams to Practice Squad

Last time he was in Denver, Gordon burned the Broncos for over 150 all-purpose yards – 112 of those on the ground. Peko has to set the tone that you’re not going to be able to run on this team. The message: You try to run inside, and you’re going to get stuffed. That’s what Peko and the crew needs to do.

  • Key player to watch: Justin Simmons

Ever since he leaped over the Saints’ offensive line to block the field goal and win the game Week Ten of last season, fans and the organization knew they potentially had something special with Justin Simmons.

Since the release of three-time Pro-Bowl safety T.J. Ward, Simmons is no longer just added depth; he’s becomes “The Man”. Phillip Rivers is always going to be looking for Antonio Gates, either as a safety new or up the field. This is Simmons’ moment to break out and show why he was chosen to carry on the “No Fly” legacy. Ward was known as a “Gronk-stopper”, let’s see what Simmons is really capable of. If he shutdown Gates or creates a turnover or two.