Broncos Players to Keep an eye on vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Sep 8, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) is tackled by Denver Broncos linebacker Shane Ray (56) in the third quarter at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 8, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) is tackled by Denver Broncos linebacker Shane Ray (56) in the third quarter at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports /

The Denver Broncos have another tough game on the road. This time it comes against the young Tampa Bay Buccaneers. There are favorable match-ups for multiple Broncos on both sides of the ball, but it will be a tough game. Which Broncos players should you have an eye on?

Even though the records may make one think otherwise, these two teams are pretty evenly matched. The Denver Broncos offense average 29 total yards less than the Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense does, but the Broncos average almost five points more per game. The Buccaneers have the #6 rated passing offense to the Broncos 20th ranked passing offense, but rushing offense is ranked 14th for Denver to 23rd for the Buccaneers.

The big difference between the two teams comes from their defenses. For Denver, they have one of, if not the, best defenses in the NFL. That is something the Buccaneers cannot claim. They rank 19th in total defense, 20th in passing and 14th in rushing defense. This bodes well for the Broncos offense.

The first player to watch is Max Garcia, but not for a good reason. Garcia has to perform against the Buccaneers, or he may be at risk of losing his starting spot at left guard. It is going to be a tough game for Garcia, as he will face off against Gerald McCoy often. If Garcia cannot improve his play, McCoy could very well take control when Denver has the ball.

If Garcia can’t, they he will be at risk of losing his spot, which he is already at risk of happening. The Broncos have Ty Sambrailo at right tackle due to an injury to Donald Stephenson, but the plan was to have Sambrailo at guard. When Stephenson is healthy and if Garcia keeps his poor level of performance, that is just one of a few options the Broncos have.

Other options include rookie Connor McGovern at left guard, or planting him at right guard and moving Michael Schofield to left guard, which is the less likelier of the two. There is also Darrion Weems, who has stepped in and played well when it was needed. This very well could be Garcia’s last week as a starter and it won’t be easy for him.

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With the Buccaneers average run defense, C.J. Anderson is one to keep an eye on. He very well could go off and have a huge day. Despite their average defense, however, the most rushing yards they have allowed to a single rusher is 85 yards. So, it won’t be easy for Anderson. He will have to earn every yard and will need to blockers up-front to do their jobs as well.

If everything goes as the Broncos probably hope it does, Anderson eclipses 100 yards for the first time this season. While he doesn’t have to have a big game for the Broncos to win, it would come in handy. Keep an eye on Anderson as he attempts to go for 100 against an average run defense.

The final player to keep an eye on for the offense is, of course, Trevor Siemian. On the road against the Cincinnati Bengals, Siemian struggled for three quarters, despite two scores. Then in the fourth quarter he turned it on and was on fire on his way to tossing two more touchdowns.

With the Buccaneers, Siemian will have a huge advantage with his receivers. Only two of the Buccaneers corners are listed as being over 5-10, and they are the #4 and #5 guys on the roster. Two of their top three corners are probably closer to 5-9, and with the Broncos having four receivers over six-foot, they have a serious size advantage.

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Siemian should use that and give them some jump balls, especially to Demaryius Thomas who has a knack for coming down with those. As for the smaller receivers Emmanuel Sanders and Jordan Norwood, they should win their match-ups with their speed, agility and quickness, which the Buccaneers can’t really match. It will take some creative coverage to balance the scales between these two groups.

Where Siemian has to be careful is the with the linebackers for the Buccaneers. All three of them play really well in coverage and can hide themselves from quarterbacks only for them to come in and break up the play. Siemian has to be consistent and can’t expect defenders to drop would be interceptions like the Bengals did.

As for the defensive side of things, both Shane Ray and Von Miller need to have your attention. Jameis Winston is one of the most pressured quarterbacks in the NFL, but has only been sacked five times. His size and athleticism make him hard to bring down. However, Miller and company had to deal with that against Andrew Luck and Cam Newton.

Expect both to bring pressure, but when they get there they need to finish. Ray will be coming from a three sack game, while Miller has five. Miller had a three sack performance in week two, with Ray following suit in week three. Against one of the worst pass blocking offensive lines in the NFL, they should be able to generate pressure consistently. Finishing will be the key.

To help those two finish, Derek Wolfe and Jared Crick also need to provide pressure. If Ray and Miller are the first ones there, Wolfe and Crick can’t be too far behind. This would help the Broncos finish the plays on sacks. Pressure isn’t the only reason that Wolfe and Crick are players to watch.

They both have to step up against the run. They have to stay discipline and control their gaps, or it could be a long day. They can’t let the Buccaneers run the ball like the Bengals did to start off their week three match-up. Allowing them to do so will help get the Buccaneers passing game going, despite a touch Broncos secondary.

Next: Early Broncos 2017 Mock Draft

The previous prediction for this game was the Broncos winning 27-9, but that was made weeks ago. Things have changed since then, and of course the prediction does as well. The Broncos still come out on top, but by a score of 34 to 16 thanks to the help of a couple of defensive scores.