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Broncos vs. Buccaneers: Three key matchups on Denver’s defense

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Carolina Panthers v Denver Broncos Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers play the Denver Broncos tomorrow. Here are three key matchups when the Bucs are on offense.

LB Von Miller vs. RT Demar Dotson

This will be the single, key matchup in this game. Von Miller isn’t just the best pass-rusher on the Denver Broncos, he may be the single best pass-rusher in the NFL. With five sacks in three games, he’s certainly the most productive right now.

Miller will be going up against Demar Dotson, who got his contract extended just this offseason. The Bucs right tackle has been one of the best pass-blocking right tackles in the league for years on end, though his run-blocking is a little more up-and-down. If Dotson can keep Miller under control, though, he’ll have more than earned his keep.

Also keep an eye on left tackle Donovan Smith, who has had two good games and one weak one this year. He was very impressive against Robert Quinn last week, even though he gave up a sack. He’ll likely have to replicate that performance against Miller a couple of times, too.

CB Aqib Talib vs. WR Mike Evans

Oh yes, the good old days when Aqib Talib was a Buc, and a bit up and down. Since then, the veteran cornerback’s mostly cut out his off-field issues, and has turned into a very good cornerback, if not quite a shut-down one.

Talib will have to shut up Evans, who’s having the best season of his career. He’s on track to top 1,600 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns this season, and he’s been Jameis Winston’s most consistent performer. He hasn’t faced a cornerback of Talib’s caliber, though, and after Evans’ performance the last few weeks, there’s little chance they keep Talib in to cover Vincent Jackson instead.

LB Brandon Marshall vs. RB Charles Sims

No Doug Martin for the Bucs, again, which means Charles Sims will have to lead the way. And as ever with Sims, the question will be to what extent he can do some damage between the tackles. Without Martin, the Bucs lack a consistent running game, which has been part of the reason for 50+ throws for Jameis Winston in each of the past two games.

Sims is an outstanding runner outside the tackles and a very good receiving back, and Marshall will likely have his hands full trying to stick with Sims, especially as a receiver. As good as Marshall is, he doesn’t quite have the speed to keep up with Sims in the open field, or as a pass-catcher. If Sims can’t get consistent yardage inside, which seems likely, that may be the way the Bucs can break open the game.