The Broncos have started the 2023 season and the Sean Payton era off in underwhelming fashion, dropping two games that they definitely should have won against the Las Vegas Raiders and Washington Commanders.
Now they face a Miami Dolphins team that has started 2-0 and appears to be one of the better teams in the AFC. But, how good is this Dolphins team?
The Broncos must avoid an 0-3 start at all costs, but do they have what it takes to knock off Miami? Because of one key factor, they do. It's an obvious one, but one that the team must properly execute.
Dolphins wide receiver Jaylen Waddle has been ruled out of this contest due to a concussion and that is something that can't be overlooked. The Dolphins have perhaps the fastest offense in the NFL, but the way they beat teams is built on having both Waddle and Tyreek Hill on the field together.
Hill is so fast that no one in the league is going to stop him in a one-on-one situation. But Waddle is incredibly fast as well and that makes defenses stay honest, having to keep tabs on both players. Without Waddle, the Dolphins' offense could be much different.
If you have watched any of the Dolphins' games this season, Tua Tagovailoa is getting the ball out of his hands extremely quickly, usually looking for one of his top two wideouts. The Broncos could rattle this gameplan and give the Dolphins some problems.
The Broncos have a tough blow of their own and will be without their best defensive player, Justin Simmons, for this game. That will make it harder to bottle up Hill, but the Broncos are going to have to find a way to do it.
The Broncos must take a page out of the Bill Belichick school of defense and force someone, anyone other than Hill to beat them. Without Waddle, that will leave Tagovailoa throwing to the likes of Braxton Berrios, River Cracraft and Erik Ezunkanma. If the Broncos' defense gets beat by those guys, then Vance Joseph should face some serious questions this coming week.
The Denver offense has been good enough this season. Russell Wilson has already played considerably better than he did last season. If the defense can slow down Hill, which is much easier said than done, but quite doable if he becomes the main focal point, then an upset is possible.
Without Simmons, the Broncos will have Kareem Jackson and Delarrin Turner-Yell at safety but they will likely have to make JL Skinner active for the first time this season.
The Denver secondary, and how it performs, will be the difference between an upset win and an 0-3 start.