3 key matchups for Washington vs. Broncos in Week 8

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The Washington Football Team desperately needs a victory on Sunday to avoid falling to 2-6 before the bye week. After a week off, Washington hosts the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 10.

So, how does Washington go on the road and defeat the Denver Broncos this week?

Denver pass-rusher Von Miller is questionable for Sunday and is considered “50-50” for the game. If Miller can’t go, that’s a positive for Washington, which struggled to protect quarterback Taylor Heinicke. Denver did receive some good injury news this week with wide receiver Jerry Jeudy’s return.

For Washington to win, it will need to win a series of matchups. Here are three matchups to watch in Washington’s Week 8 game against the Broncos.

Washington's secondary vs. Broncos wide receivers

Oct 10, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Denver Broncos wide receiver Courtland Sutton (14) runs after a catch as Pittsburgh Steelers inside linebacker Robert Spillane (41) defends during the second quarter at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

With Jeudy back on the field, the Broncos have an outstanding group of pass-cachers. Jeudy, Courtland Sutton, Tim Patrick and Noah Fant will present some major problems for Washington’s secondary. The WFT did a good job last week of not letting the Packers get behind the coverage. That’s essential this week, too.

Washington’s secondary will need plenty of help from the pass rush this week.

Washington RB Antonio Gibson vs. Broncos linebackers

Oct 10, 2021; Landover, Maryland, USA; Washington Football Team running back Antonio Gibson (24) rushes past New Orleans Saints linebacker Pete Werner (20) during the first half at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

This is the key matchup for Washington’s offense. Washington has tried to get Antonio Gibson going in recent weeks, but a series of mistakes have prevented Gibson from having a breakout game in 2021. Gibson has fumbled four times in 2021.

The Broncos have a good defense, ranking No. 5 in total defense. However, in a Week 7 loss to the Browns, Denver allowed 182 rushing yards to Cleveland — without Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. The Steelers rushed for almost 150 yards against Denver three weeks ago.

Washington may get All-Pro right guard Brandon Scherff back this week. That’s another reason for Washington to rely on the run this week. Denver has issues at linebacker. Washington should do everything possible to exploit the Broncos linebackers. Denver is also without defensive tackle Mike Purcell.

Washington doesn’t want Heinicke throwing 40 times on Sunday. A consistent running game would go a long way in leading Washington to an important road win.

Washington DE Montez Sweat vs. Broncos RT Bobby Massie

Oct 24, 2021; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Washington Football Team defensive end Montez Sweat (90) sacks Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) during the first quarter at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Washington defensive end Montez Sweat has four sacks in 2021. He has yet to take over a game, which he has proven he is capable of doing. On Sunday, Sweat should see a lot of Denver right tackle Bobby Massie. That’s good news for whichever pass-rusher — Sweat or Chase Young — lines up across from Massie.

Massie is ranked as the No. 49 offensive tackle, according to Pro Football Focus. The veteran still struggles in pass protection, meaning Washington should test Massie early and often this week.

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