Denver Broncos vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

Today’s bet: Denver Broncos -2.5 @ (1.86/-115)

Key Factors:

  • The Mile High Factor
  • Internal Problems for Jaguars
  • O-line issues for Jaguars
  • Broncos defense in a good spot in 3rd and long situations

The Jaguars (1-2) are taking on the Broncos (0-3) in the Mile-high City. Both teams have their fair share of struggles in the first three games of the season. However, no matter what week it is in the NFL, Empower Field in Denver is always a hard place to play due to high altitude and a great home-field advantage. This is not ideal for Jaguars rookie QB in Gardner Minshew, who has been good but has yet to play in high altitude and a hostile environment like Denver. He won’t get the luxury of playing at home or indoors like he did in Houston. Today will be a different kind of test. Much of our reason for backing Denver to win this game is the urgency to pick up their first win today and being in arguably one of the best home-field advantages in the NFL. The Jaguars will have rookie QB Gardner Minshew. He’s been an amazing story, but can he continue his recent showings in the “Mile High City”? This will be a test and an environment he has not been in before in his short NFL career thus far.

In terms of matchups, the Jaguars will need to rely on their defense to keep them in this one; however, cornerback Jalen Ramsey is status is still up in the air and his off the field issues have certainly caused conflict within the organization and the media. If he is unable to go, give a boost to the Broncos offense. He is still dealing with a back issue, but reports are he expects to be available. Nonetheless defensively the Jaguars have been solid thus far but also worth noting their opponents are well:

Chiefs: 40 points and 491 yards of total offense (Elite offense)
Texans: 13 points and 263 yards of total offense (Middle of the pack)
Titans: 7 points and 249 yards of total offense (Bottom 5 offense)

Looking at the prior meetings, it is hard to get an accurate measure for how good Jacksonville’s defense is. While they were torched by the Chiefs in week one, they played much better in weeks 2 and 3, but they dealt with a Houston Texans team that is average offensively and lacks a strong rushing attack (Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson… mediocre) and they also faced one of the poorer offenses on a Thursday night game where teams often run a simple gameplan due to less preparation. Let’s now take a look at the offense they will go up against:

Broncos total offense through 3 games:

Vs. Raiders: 344 yards
Vs. Bears: 372 yards 
Vs. Packers: 310 yards 

Denver has looked inconsistent at times this year on offense, but you have to consider the situations as well. Their first game was an opening night primetime game agaisnt the Raiders with their new QB Joe Flacco (takes time for a QB on a new team to be successful). The faced arguably the best defense in the Chicago Bears at home in week two and they had to go into Green Bay in week 3 (another tough matchup). They nearly won in week 2 vs. Chicago and had some bad breaks along the way last week agaisnt Green Bay. QB Joe Flacco will need to manage the game much better this week. Two simple mistakes cost the Broncos a chance in a game they lost 27-16. He basically gave away points last week a fumble inside his own 5-yard line (gave Packers an easy TD) and an interception on Green Bay’s side of the field (another missed opportunity). If Flacco can right the ship, and have his offensive line limit the sacks, Denver could finally breakthrough. However, you will read below, this game is really about the defense.

Lack of a run game for Jacksonville: Leonard Fournette is a running back hasn’t had an ideal start to the season. He has no touchdowns and already one fumble. Last year Fournette had zero fumbles in eight games, while he has one in three games this season. He has complained about the disconnect with the offensive line. So far they have been able to limit sacks in recent weeks, they have been unable to give easy holes for Leonard Fournette to run through. Fournette is averaging just 1.84 yards per rush before the first contact, which means he’s not getting cleanly through the offensive line.

Jaguars Coach Doug Marrone’s quote: Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone went as far as blaming his offensive line for the poor rushing attack. Marron mentioned how the interior of the line has struggled the most. Doug Marrone blamed the offensive line for the Jaguars’ lack of success in the run game, saying last week and again early this week that he and his entire coaching staff need to come up with solutions. He noted the struggles and the lack of production along the OL in the run game: “Right now we’re not giving Leonard a chance.”

3rd and long: Against Oakland and Chicago, they had a combined 11 third-down opportunities where they needed three or fewer yards. Last week they improved defensively forcing the Packers into needing at least 10 yards on six of their nine chances (one conversion). So far this season, the Broncos have been great in 3rd and long situations. When needing at least eight yards on third down, opponents are 3 of 15 against the Broncos. As a result, expect Jacksonville to need to convert plenty of 3rd and long situations. We get it… the Broncos have yet to record a sack this year and the pass rush has been inconsistent. However, the Broncos’ defense has also faced only 82 pass attempts, tied with Cincinnati for fewest in the league. Jacksonville is much easier to handle than Green Bay or Chicago, so expect the Jaguars to have to throw more to move the ball and for Denver’s defense to finally get going.

Overall, the Broncos, are desperate for a win. Their best chances to get a win are at home. They might be 0-3 but they lost to two quality teams that are 3-1 and 2-1 as of this week. Also, a week before, they limited the Bears to 16 points while they were able to score 14. The Bears are ranked 2nd in the league when it comes to points scored against. The Jags may be ranked 8th when it comes to possession time; however, with a lack of offensive weapons, a struggling running back, and a mediocre O-line, we cannot trust the Jaguars to go into a tough environment like Denver and come away with an easy win. The Broncos are hungry, the players are tired of it, but remain confident. With a 52-man roster, so much of the NFL comes down to emotion. Statistically, the Broncos are, in theory, in a bounce-back spot. Obviously, the offense needs to show up here. We believe it will be a game won with the little things and we expect Denver to finally get the win they should have gotten already, and take care of business today.

 

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