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How the Broncos plan to use their tight ends to test the stout Steelers defense

The Denver Broncos have some talented, and athletic, tight ends, so I go behind enemy lines to try and find out what this means for the Pittsburgh Steelers fan base.

NFL: Denver Broncos at Minnesota Vikings Ben Ludeman-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for the Denver Broncos in Week 2 of the regular season Sunday, but who are they preparing for?

The Broncos don’t have a lot of big name players anymore on their offense. It seems light years since John Elways or even Peyton Manning were under center for the high-powered Broncos offense. But that doesn’t mean Drew Lock can’t make plays with the players he has around him.

With so much unknown, I spoke with Mile High Report writer Joe Rowles to get a feel for what this opponent has to offer in Week 2.

When the Broncos have the ball, how will they try to move the ball with Drew Lock entering his second year under center?

I’d expect the Broncos to try and lean on both the screen and quick game. Lock ran into trouble against the Titans when the offense got into situations where he had to read the field, so I would think controlling the down and distance will be an emphasis. Melvin Gordon will get his totes this week, even if they’re not all that efficient.

One thing I’m really intrigued by is how the Giants had success with their 13 personnel. So far Shurmur’s only run out of it, but with Noah Fant, Nick Vannett, and Jake Butt, Denver has the personnel to lean into it more. This could also help to limit the snaps for Courtland Sutton and K.J. Hamler if they play.

When the Steelers have the ball, how will the Broncos’ defense attempt to stop Ben Roethlisberger and company?

Minus A.J. Bouye it’s going to be really tough for the Broncos to match up with the Steelers’ receiving corps one on one. I expect more zone coverage this week than last. In order to make up for the loss of Von Miller, Fangio will bring more heat than people are used to. Stunts were a big part of the game plan against Tennessee and their shaky right tackle. I expect Fangio to go after the Steelers now that Zach Banner’s out.

Who is your X-Factor for the game (a player who will be a linchpin for the success of the DEN in the game)

It has to be Drew Lock. The Broncos will need him to make more plays than he did last week against this defense.

One player to watch no one is talking about but could impact the game.

He isn’t a player, but if you loved Mike Munchak during his time in Pittsburgh he’s a huge X-factor in this game. There aren’t many fans who love offensive line play, but the Broncos tackles are really overmatched this week against T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree. How Munchak protects them in order to give his young quarterback time in the pocket should be huge.

A prediction for the game.

Since I first saw the schedule I hated this matchup for the Broncos offense. Pittsburgh’s defense is going to be special this year and their best players matchup with Denver’s weaknesses. With all of the injuries I have my doubts Fangio can pull it out unless Big Ben melts down.

Steelers 28 - Broncos 24

(For the best content on the other side of this matchup, be sure to check out Mile High Report for the best on the Broncos.)