Big week ahead for Julius Thomas

Broncos TE benefits from matchup, leads key players to watch Week 7

Updated: October 16, 2013, 11:50 AM ET
By Field Yates | ESPN Insider

Julius ThomasAaron Ontiveroz/The Denver PostJulius Thomas should be able to exploit a vulnerable Colts secondary in Week 7.

Heading into Week 6, most presumed the Jacksonville Jaguars had little chance to hang tight with the Denver Broncos, much less upset the league's hottest team. The Broncos entered the game as near four-touchdown favorites, but, although they prevailed, the margin was far slimmer than many had projected, just 16 points.

The buildup to the game reinforced the notion that, in football, there are matchups each week that, at least on paper, seem to decidedly favor one side or the other. In that particular scenario, it was one talent-ridden team against a team rebuilding from the ground up: a favorable matchup on the team level.

But within the course of each game, there are also individual matchups that favor one player -- or group of players -- more than another.

NFL coaching staffs exhaust resources on Monday evenings and into Tuesdays to develop scouting reports and game plans for their forthcoming games, the focus of which involves -- in part -- strengths and limitations of opposing players.

Finding a guard who struggles to move in space or a cornerback who has limited lateral agility is a method in planning how to attack on Sunday.

With Week 7 creeping around the corner, here's a look at three players with favorable individual matchups, as well as three others who will have their work cut out for them this weekend.


Julius Thomas, TE, Denver Broncos
It feels as though the Broncos have a favorable matchup against almost any team they play, as they've sprinted to a 6-0 start with little resistance, save some late drama in Dallas in Week 4. But Week 7 may well be a difficult team challenge, as Peyton Manning and his squad will take on his former team, the 4-2 Colts. For Thomas, who on any given Sunday can be the first or the fourth option in the Broncos' passing game, he'll have a chance to test a Colts secondary that could be without starting safety LaRon Landry. Landry has missed four straight games to an ankle injury, and his status for Sunday is in doubt. Thomas is a vertical stressing tight end who can control the space between the hashes, and, if Landry is forced to sit once again, the last level of the Colts' defense will be thin.

Field Yates has previous experience interning with the New England Patriots on both their coaching and scouting staffs. A graduate of Wesleyan University (CT), he is a regular contributor to ESPN Boston's Patriots coverage and ESPN Insider.