The Broncos' regular-season opener isn't for another few months, but over the next few weeks, DenverBroncos.com will take an early look at each game on the Broncos' 2020 schedule. We don't know how injuries could impact each contest, but we'll present the pressing storylines, matchups, questions and more.
It's never too early to start talking football.
We continue with Denver's Week 6 game against the Miami Dolphins.
Storylines to monitor:
After a season of whispers that the Dolphins would "Tank for Tua," they indeed ended up with the Alabama quarterback in the 2020 NFL Draft. All eyes will be on Tagovailoa this preseason as he fights for playing time, and it wouldn't be a shock if he's in the lineup by the time the Dolphins head to Denver in Week 6.
A trip home after two consecutive road games will be a welcome respite for the Broncos, and their game against Miami is the only one in a three-game stretch that comes against a team that didn't make the playoffs in 2019.
Many believe that Miami is still a season away from contending, but after adding a slew of talented free agents — including cornerback Byron Jones — this group should be much improved from a year ago. Denver can't overlook this matchup with a home game against Kansas City coming up next.
Among the reunions to watch: Tackle Ja'Wuan James should face his former team for the first time after signing with Denver in free agency in 2019.
Player to watch:
CB Byron Jones
We're not sure if Tagovailoa will be on the field for this Week 6 matchup, but if Jones is healthy, he definitely will be. The former Cowboy joined the Dolphins in free agency, and he was widely viewed as the top option on the market. A one-time Pro Bowler, Jones posted his best season in 2018 when he recorded 14 passes defensed. Jones hasn't been very ball productive, though. He has just two interceptions in his career and none over the last two seasons.
As the team's No. 1 cornerback, it seems likely that Jones would draw Courtland Sutton in coverage. At 6-foot-4, Sutton would have a noticeable size advantage over the 6-foot Jones. Can Sutton and Drew Lock take advantage of that matchup? Or will the Broncos need to look elsewhere in the passing game on this Sunday? If Sutton gains the upper hand, the Broncos' offense could thrive in this October matchup at Empower Field at Mile High.
Look back through the battles between the Broncos and Dolphins, including Denver's 38-3 romp in the playoffs on the way to Super Bowl XXXIII.
The question mark:
Can Denver take care of business at home?
There are no guaranteed wins in the NFL, but it's safe to say that the Broncos need to get this one against the Dolphins. According to ESPN's Mike Clay, the Broncos have a win probability of 77 percent against Miami, which is Denver's highest win probability of any game for the coming season. In the NFL, good teams take care of the games they're supposed to win.
That game, though, comes on the heels of a two-game road trip against the Jets and Patriots and precedes a game against Kansas City. The Broncos can't afford to let the outcome of past or future games impact this one in Denver. Head Coach Vic Fangio and the team's leadership will need to keep the Broncos focused to ensure there is no letdown.
An opposing view:
Travis Wingfield, a staff writer for the Miami Dolphins, on which rookies besides Tagovailoa could play major roles this season:
"There are paths to playing time for each of the rookies, and it starts with the 18th pick of the draft in Austin Jackson. He has a shot to start at left tackle from Day 1 while second-round pick Robert Hunt will compete for a job at either right guard or right tackle. Noah Igbinoghene has the athletic ability and change-of-direction skill set to play either outside or in the slot and his competitive nature stands out above all. The expectation is that the entire class will compete for work whether as starters or in rotational roles. Last season, Miami got contributions from a variety of rookies from first-round pick Christian Wilkins to undrafted players in Preston Williams and Nik Needham."
For more from Wingfield on the Dolphins team the Broncos will see in Week 6, click here.
The last meeting:
The Broncos and Dolphins have met just three times over the last decade, and while the Broncos hold a 2-1 edge in the last three games, the Dolphins dominated in the teams' last meeting.
Miami earned a 35-9 win at the newly opened Hard Rock Stadium in 2017, as the Dolphins' defense recorded two safeties and an interception return for a touchdown.
One bright spot: Justin Simmons recorded his only career touchdown as he returned a Jay Cutler pass 65 yards for a touchdown.