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Running on the Denver Broncos

When looking at defensive matchups each week, one thing I like to focus on is the number of passing attempts vs rushing attempts. Looking at how many passing yards a team gives up is useful, but how many times the opposition has passed against a team is also a key factor.  A great example is this Monday Night's Denver vs Tennessee game.

The Broncos have only had 241 pass attempts against them this season, ranking them 31st in the league in that category.  On the other hand, they have had 286 rush attempts against them which places them fourth in the league.  There's a huge imbalance on how opposing teams play the Denver defense.  Teams have been running at the Broncos all season and avoiding the pass because running against the Broncos works.  

You could say this imbalance is because of the schedule - maybe the Broncos have faced a lot of power rushing teams.  That might influence the numbers, especially early in the season, but that isn't the case here.   Denver has played Jacksonville and San Diego, both rushing-oriented offenses, but they've also played two "throw first" teams in Detroit and Green Bay.  In fact, four of the top eleven QBs in passing yards (Favre, Kitna, P. Manning and Roethlisberger) have lined up against the Broncos.  The combination of Damon Huard and Brody Croyle chucked up the ball a total of 45 times last week.

You could also say this imbalance won't matter against the Titans.   Denver doesn't have to worry much about the pass - so the thinking goes -- so they can focus almost entirely on stopping the rush.    I don't agree with that.  Vince Young is not a great throwing quarterback by any measure, but he has outperformed the opposition quarterback the past two weeks so he's not completely useless.  With Chris Brown coming back from injury for the Titans, they should be able to run two backs right at Denver the entire game - with the occasional VY scramble thrown in for even more rushing pain.

I like the Titans rushers this weekend.  If you're suffering through injuries, Chris Brown should be a decent fill-in this week.  With opposing teams running an average of nearly 32 times a game against them, the Broncos should give up big yardage totals this Monday Night.