NFL

Broncos scouting report: How Denver matchups up against Giants and predictions – The Denver Post

Broncos (0-0) at Giants (0-0)

When: 2:25 p.m., Sunday.

Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.

Radio/TV: 850 AM, 94.1 FM/KDVR-31.

Weather: Partly sunny with high of 84.

Broncos-Giants series: Tied 6-6. The Giants won the last meeting 23-10 in 2017.

Key matchup

Broncos OLB Von Miller vs. Giants RT Nate Solder

The spotlight is on Miller and Solder for the same reason: Neither played in 2020. Miller was lost to an ankle injury days before the season opener against Tennessee and Solder opted out of the year due to coronavirus concerns.

The Broncos kept Miller in bubble-wrap until the Aug. 28 preseason finale against the Los Angeles Rams, when he looked sharp and appeared ready for regular duty. Solder missed the exhibition season due to a shoulder injury sustained in mid-August.

But here’s the kicker: The Giants are committed to 2020 first-round pick Andrew Thomas at left tackle, which means Solder will start his first career game at right tackle.

“He’s a guy that’s been versatile throughout his career,” Giants coach Joe Judge said. “Nate has played left and right (tackle) this preseason and he’s done a good job. He came back, worked very hard this offseason and jumped right back into it. I love the spirit and leadership he brings to the team.”

This is a critical season for Miller, who is a free agent next March. When last seen playing a full year, he had only nine sacks. For the Broncos to get off to a not-awful start, Miller has to be in good form from the hop.

Who has the edge?

Quarterback

Go with the veteran in Week 1 and that means Teddy Bridgewater, the Broncos’ fifth different Week 1 starter in as many years. Make or break time for the Giants’ Daniel Jones (30th in passer rating in ’20). Edge: Broncos

Running back

If Saquon Barkley was healthy, the Giants would have the edge, but he didn’t play in the preseason (torn ACL last year). The Broncos will unveil their 1-1A wallop in Melvin Gordon and rookie Javonte Williams. Edge: Broncos

Receiver/tight end

Courtland Sutton plays for the first time since last September (ACL), allowing the Broncos to roll out him, Jerry Jeudy, KJ Hamler and TE Noah Fant. Giants No. 1 WR Kenny Golladay didn’t play in August (hamstring). Edge: Broncos

Offensive line

The Broncos’ line, which includes the same cast as 2020 save for RT Bobby Massie, created a solid run- and pass-blocking foundation last month. The Giants … not so much. They start two second-year players, including LT Andrew Thomas. Edge: Broncos

Defensive line

Time for Broncos DE Dre’Mont Jones to begin his breakout season (he’s thinking 10 sacks). But the Giants’ Leonard Williams will be the best D-lineman on the field. He had 11 1/2 sacks last year, 7 1/2 more than any teammate. Edge: Giants

Linebacker

Broncos OLB Von Miller looked sharp in his only preseason test drive last month, but opposite him, OLB Bradley Chubb’s lingering ankle injury is a concern. Giants ILB Blake Martinez is a tackle machine (151 last year). Edge: Giants

Secondary

The first test for the revamped cornerback corps of Ronald Darby, Kyle Fuller and Pat Surtain II and the returning Bryce Callahan. They, along with safeties Justin Simmons and Kareem Jackson, are much better than the Giants. Edge: Broncos

Special teams

The Broncos have spent the last two weeks semi-revamping their special teams to improve the coverage/return units. But until they prove allowing long returns isn’t the norm, their opponent will get the edge. Edge: Giants

Tale of the tape

CategoryBroncosGiants
Total offense335.6 (23rd)299.6 (31st)
Rush offense119.9 (13th)110.5 (19th)
Pass offense215.7 (26th)189.1 (29th)
Points per game20.2 (28th)17.5 (31st)
Total defense367.9 (21st)349.3 (12th)
Run defense130.0 (25th)111.4 (10th)
Pass defense237.9 (T-16th)237.9 (T-16th)
Points allowed27.9 (25th)22.3 (9th)

* 2020 stats

By the numbers

0 — Fans who attended Giants home games last year because of the pandemic. A sellout crowd is expected Sunday.

5 — Remaining Broncos players on the roster from their last game against the Giants in 2017 (LT Garett Bolles, K Brandon McManus, DE Shelby Harris, OLB Von Miller and S Justin Simmons).

151 — Tackles last year for Giants ILB Blake Martinez, 59 more than any teammate.

15-14 — Broncos quarterback Teddy Bridgewater’s career record in regular season road games.

Betting/fantasy

Line: Broncos -2 1/2

The Broncos are a road favorite for the first time since coach Vic Fangio’s opening game in 2019 — a three-point favorite at Oakland (24-16 loss). In their last 30 games as a road favorite, the Broncos are 17-13 straight up and 15-14-1 against the spread. In the teams’ last meeting, the Broncos were a 13 1/2-point home favorite in October 2017 and lost 23-10 to the previously winless Giants.

Prop bet: Longest TD over 37 1/2 yards (minus-115)

Bet the under. The Broncos had an 80-yard touchdown catch in the preseason opener (Drew Lock to KJ Hamler at Minnesota) and their longest overall rushing attempt was 18 yards. The Giants’ had a 43-yard touchdown completion last month, but only one rushing touchdown of any kind in 63 attempts.

Fantasy play: Sit Broncos WR Courtland Sutton

There are a few reasons to be cautious with Sutton as a starter on your fantasy team. He is coming off last September’s torn ACL and coach Vic Fangio has indicated his snaps may be managed early on. If the preseason is any indication, the Broncos figure to run two-tight end personnel to emphasize the run game.

Post predictions

Mark Kiszla, columnist: Giants 20, Broncos 17

Would it surprise me if Denver won? Not in the least. The Broncos are a slightly more-talented team. But I think the emotion of a home-opener on the 20th anniversary weekend of 9/11 will be the difference.

Kyle Newman, beat writer: Broncos 24, Giants 13

Teddy Bridgewater exceeds expectations in his Denver debut, including a long touchdown pass to Jerry Jeudy, whom the Giants have no chance of tackling in open space. And the Broncos D flexes on Daniel Jones and Co. with two interceptions, allowing only a garbage-time touchdown.

Ryan O’Halloran, beat writer: Broncos 27, Giants 17

Vic Fangio wins the biggest game of his head-coaching career to start a September to remember. Ronald Darby and Justin Strnad intercept Giants quarterback Daniel Jones to send a message to the NFL that this Broncos defense means business.

Sean Keeler, columnist: Broncos 19, Giants 17

Potentially the best game on the NFL slate in Week 1. Also, potentially, the worst. Uncle Vic breaks his September curse just off Broadway, then breaks into song.

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