The AFC West will be the best division in the NFL next year. So which matchups are prominent for the Denver Broncos at this point?
It has been well documented this off-season that the AFC West is not only the best division in the NFL today but maybe the toughest of all time.
There are four franchise quarterbacks, All-Pro pass rushers, some of the best weapons in the league, and players in the secondary that would make any quarterback nervous.
So with all this star power what matchups do the Broncos really need to focus on when playing against their division rivals?
The Chargers, Chiefs, and Raiders all present unique challenges for the Broncos. We all know that Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert will cause problems for any defense so we won’t go for the obvious answers.
Instead, we’ll look at the other players on the teams that could be the difference in getting the much-needed divisional wins.
In years past containing offensive players like Tyreek Hill, LaDainian Tomlinson, and Tim Brown played a big part in the rivalry matchups.
Likewise, players like Derrick Thomas, Nnamdi Asomugha, and Junior Seau could wreck the game against the Broncos. The rivals have added some star power and so certain Broncos need to step up when they have the star lining up across from them.
So let’s look at who we need to spotlight once the games begin.
Denver Broncos matchups vs. Los Angeles Chargers
Derwin James VS Nathaniel Hackett
There is no defender more versatile in the NFL than Derwin James, He literally can play at least seven positions on defense. When healthy he is almost guaranteed 100+ tackles, a few sacks, and he’ll force multiple turnovers.
In the two games against the Broncos last year he combined for 13 tackles, three tackles for loss, and added an interception. Truly showing just how dangerous he is in the secondary as well as in the box.
As for coach Hackett, he’ll have his hands full with James. Not only is Hackett a first-time coach but this will be his first time taking over the play-calling duties.
So when it comes to the two games against the Chargers he’ll have to create a game plan that negates Derwin James from taking over.
Rashawn Slater VS Bradley Chubb
In Denver’s win over the Chargers in week 12, Justin Herbert was sacked three times and was under pressure throughout the game. Meanwhile, the Denver Broncos didn’t have a single sack in the 34-13 week 17 matchup and Herbert picked the defense apart.
It seems simple to put pressure on the quarterback and your defense will perform better…
Easier said than done when the other team has a 23-year-old perennial All-Pro at left tackle.
Insert the Broncos player under the biggest spotlight, Bradley Chubb. Chubb has put together a season as the Defensive Rookie of the Year and another as a Pro-Bowler but he just hasn’t been available a lot.
For the first time in his career though, the Denver Broncos have high expectations and he needs to be a focal point if they are to live up to them.
That includes lining up against the stud that is Rashawn Slater. The two will play against each other for the first time in 2022 and will figure into the results.