coleryan Posts:13321 Followers:19
On 10/08/2013 07:12 PM in NFL

Jacksonville Jaguars at Denver Broncos: Preview and Pick

Jacksonville Jaguars at Denver Broncos: Preview and Pick

This is one of those rare games in the National Football League that sets up to be an absolute nightmare. The Jacksonville Jaguars are easily the worst team in the entire league and it is an understatement to say that they will have their hands full this weekend when they go up against Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. The biggest news for this game up to this point is the betting line and just how big it can get leading up to kickoff.

Jacksonville Jaguars at Denver Broncos Odds

The NFL betting line for this game opened up with the Broncos listed as the biggest favorites in the history of the league. The Broncos opened with the line at (-27.5) and that line has slowly begun to drop and now sits around (-26.5) at many of the top rated online sportsbooks. This line is getting plenty of looks and the Broncos are getting most of the money as they are getting 60 percent of the action which is surprising with how bad Jacksonville is this year.

The Jaguars are on pace to be one of the worst teams to ever play the game. Jaguars have been outscored by 112 points through 5 games, tied for the 2nd-worst point differential through 5 games since the merger.

The Broncos are good because of Manning. Peyton Manning completed 78.6% of his 42 attempts for 414 yards and four touchdowns. None of those numbers are a season high. - Broncos receivers gained 205 yards after catch. 39 different quarterbacks this year have failed to reach 205 passing yards in a game (minimum five attempts). However, that also is not a Broncos' season high (259 YAC, Week 1). It is unlikely that the Jaguars will be able to stop him.

The latest football betting trends for this game show that it could be a high scoring affair in favor of the home team. The total has gone over in 5 of Denver's last 5 games, over in 7 of Denver's last 8 games at home, but the total has gone under in 6 of Jacksonville's last 9 games. Denver is 2-4 against the spread (ATS) in its last 6 games when playing at home against Jacksonville. Jacksonville is 0-5 straight up and ATS in its last 5 games on the road and the Broncos are 9-1 straight up in the last ten games at home.

Jacksonville Jaguars at Denver Broncos Pick

With plenty of time to go before kickoff of this week, I will wait to announce my pick when we get closer to game day. Check back the day of the event for my pick on this great game.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 9-4-0
coleryan Posts:13321 Followers:19
10/10/2013 12:05 AM

As atrocious as the Jacksonville Jaguars are, offensive weapons are beginning to emerge. In last Sunday's loss to the St. Louis Rams, Justin Blackmon took his first catch of the season to the house for a 67-yard touchdown, finishing with a healthy five catches and 136 yards with Blaine Gabbert under center. Equally interesting, however, is that fellow wideout Cecil Shorts leads the league in an important category for pass-catchers this year, a sign that he'll be a productive and consistent receiver going forward.

Per ESPN Stats and Info, Cecil Shorts has been targeted a league-high 60 times this season. Six of those targets have come in the end zone, which is tied for sixth-most among wide receivers. Who would have thought a Jags receiver would be leading the league in targets through five games? When a team is always trailing, I suppose it does make sense that the team might be throwing the ball all the time. And sure, targets aren't receptions; Shorts isn't catching passes from the best quarterbacks in the league.

This week presents a tantalizing matchup for Shorts (and Blackmon). The Denver Broncos defense allowed more than 500 passing yards and five touchdowns to Tony Romo and the Cowboys on Sunday, including three touchdowns on balls thrown to the end zone. The Jags won't post those kinds of numbers, but it wouldn't be surprising to see Shorts lead the team in targets again and score at least once against Denver.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 9-4-0
coleryan Posts:13321 Followers:19
10/10/2013 12:27 AM

The Jacksonville Jaguars placed offensive tackle Luke Joeckel and safety Dwight Lowery on injured reserve on Tuesday.

While the Joeckel move was expected, Lowery's name was a bit of a surprise.

Joeckel, the No. 2 overall selection in last April's draft, fractured his right ankle during Sunday's loss at St. Louis. Jaguars coach Gus Bradley said the 6-foot-6, 306-pound Joeckel will undergo surgery sometime in the near future.

Lowery, acquired in a trade with the New York Jets in 2011, suffered a concussion on the second defensive snap against Seattle on Sept. 22 and has yet to be cleared to return. He had started the first two games of the season while his rookie backup, Josh Evans, had played just four snaps.

Evans, the Jaguars' sixth-round selection, has played every defensive snap since Lowery's injury alongside another rookie, second-round pick John Cyprien. Evans has played well enough that it wouldn't be a surprise to see the Jaguars waive Lowery once he has passed the concussion baseline tests and is cleared to return.

NFL rules allow teams to waive a player off IR once he has been declared healthy. It's anticipated that Lowery could be cleared in a week or two.

The team also placed tight end Allen Reisner (sprained MCL) on injured reserve designated to return, meaning he can practice with the team after six weeks and return to the active roster after eight weeks.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 9-4-0
coleryan Posts:13321 Followers:19
10/10/2013 12:28 AM

Just because they're on the wrong side of the largest point spread in history, don't expect the Jacksonville Jaguars to back down against the Denver Broncos on Sunday.

"As coach would say, Murphy [Murphy's Law] is here, but the way you defeat Murphy is you just keep fighting, you keep playing, and we'll see how things turn out," running back Maurice Jones-Drew said. "There's no way in hell we're going to back down.

"We're going to go out there and play our game the same way we always have and we'll go out there and have fun."

The Jaguars (0-5), whose five losses have been by an average of 18.2 points, are 28-point underdogs to the Broncos (5-0) -- tying the largest point spread in NFL history. One of the biggest questions surrounding Sunday's game is whether the Broncos should sit quarterback Peyton Manning at halftime.

Manning is on a historic roll, and the Broncos have won 16 regular-season games in a row. His team leads the NFL in scoring and is averaging nearly 50 points a game.

And Vegas bookmakers aren't the only ones who think the Jaguars don't have a chance. SCA Promotions of Dallas has announced it'll donate $100,000 to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society if the Jaguars win -- or $100 per point if they don't.

But the Jaguars, who are last in the NFL in nine statistical categories, aren't accepting the fate that nearly everyone expects.

"I don't care about a point spread," wide receiver Cecil Shorts said. "That has nothing to do with the outcome of the game. That don't mean nothing to me. I don't want to hear about it.

"What's it have to do with football? What does whatever the spread is have to do with the outcome of the game? It doesn't have s--- to do with me at all, so I don't want to hear about it. No more questions about the point spread, please. That's dumb."

The Jaguars are actually riding a three-game winning streak against the Broncos. Denver hasn't beaten Jacksonville in more than eight years, winning 20-7 in Jacksonville on Oct. 2, 2005. The last time the Broncos beat the Jaguars in Denver was in 1998.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 9-4-0
coleryan Posts:13321 Followers:19
10/10/2013 12:29 AM

Jaguars rookie safeties Josh Evans and Johnathan Cyprien grew up watching Peyton Manning shred NFL defenses.

On Sunday they’ll try to stop him from doing it their defense.

In preparing to play against Manning and the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High, Evans and Cyprien were struck by the situation. They’ve admired Manning for more than half their lives and now they’re going to be on the same field with him.

Playing against him. Trying to confuse him. Hoping to pick off one of his passes.

"I wouldn’t say it’s weird, but it is amazing to grow up watching him," Evans said. "I think he got drafted when I was like 9 or something, so now I’m going to play against him is kind of crazy."

Cyprien said he had a similar feeling two weeks ago when the Jaguars played host to the Indianapolis Colts and he had to cover Reggie Wayne, a player he watched at Miami while growing up in North Miami Beach, Fla.

But being on the same field as Manning is another level.

"There’s been a couple players that I felt weird about like that," Cyprien said. "Reggie Wayne, growing up and watching him play and then I played versus him. I went through the weird process. It’ll probably be a different type of weird when I see [Manning]. But it is what it is and it’ll be time to play football."

Don’t get the idea that Evans and Cyprien are starstruck. They are most certainly not. They’re respectful of Manning and his ability, but they’re not approaching Sunday’s game any differently than they did the St. Louis game last Sunday. Practice, meetings, film study.

"We’re going against a lot of veteran guys who are pretty crafty and know what they’re doing, as you can see leading the league in passing," said Evans, who has 15 tackles and one pass breakup. "So now it’s just going out there and figuring out a way how we can stop them."

That’s not going to be easy. Manning has thrown 20 touchdown passes and only one interception, the Broncos are averaging nearly 50 points per game, and they’ve won 16 regular-season games in a row, including all five games this season by an average of 18.2 points.

Plus, don’t you think Manning is eager to go after a pair of rookie safeties?

"Maybe he is," said Cyprien, the Jaguars’ second-round pick last April. “He’s a competitor and he probably has that mindset, but me and Josh have a mindset as far as going into the game, too. If that’s the case I hope we have a lot of opportunities to make some plays."

Defensive coordinator Bob Babich admits it’s not an ideal situation to have two rookies on the back end of the defense in a game against Manning. He’s not going to overload Evans and Cyprien with information or have them show several coverages before the snap in an attempt to confuse Manning. That would more than likely end up confusing them more.

"The thing with Peyton is he’s so smart," Babich said. "Obviously he does a great job of finding out exactly how a defense wants to attack him, so you want to try to do things to try to stop that a little bit with maybe some disguises or blitzes or whatever. The younger you are obviously the tougher it becomes but our guys, what we’re going to do is we’re going to go out, use our fundamentals, and see where it takes us."

Evans, the team’s sixth-round pick, and Cyprien were expected to eventually become the starting tandem and backbone of the secondary. Cyprien was immediately inserted into the starting lineup in training camp and has responded with 35 tackles, a sack and two forced fumbles. Evans played just four snaps combined in the first two games but hasn’t missed one since Dwight Lowery suffered a concussion against Seattle.

He’s not coming out either. The team put Lowery on injured reserve on Tuesday and coach Gus Bradley said Wednesday the plan is to cut Lowery once he has been declared healthy.

So it’s Evans and Cyprien for the rest of this season -- and beyond.

"We’ve been very pleased with their development," Babich said. "They’re young guys that are extremely athletic and they’re playing extremely hard. They’re making mistakes, don’t get me wrong, but at the same time they’re making plays so the more they play the better they’re going to get."

  • Last 7 Days Record: 9-4-0
coleryan Posts:13321 Followers:19
10/10/2013 12:30 AM

For the first time in almost two months, Denver Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey was a full participant in practice Wednesday.

With cornerback Chris Harris held out with a concussion, Bailey lined up at his customary left cornerback spot for much of the workout.

Bailey has not played in a game this season and had not practiced fully since suffering a left foot injury in an Aug. 17 preseason loss to Seattle.

"With Champ, obviously, we've been smart, the medical people have done a fantastic job," Broncos coach John Fox said. "He had a very, very good workout [Wednesday]."

As he was leaving the locker room, Bailey said he thought the practice "went really well."

Denver (5-0) is coming off a game in which it surrendered 506 passing yards and five touchdowns to Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo in the Broncos' 51-48 win. Next up: the nearly four-touchdown underdog Jacksonville Jaguars (0-5) on Sunday in Denver.

"I know from a team standpoint it's great to see No. 24 back out there," Peyton Manning said. "… I know how hard he's worked to get healthy, to get back out there. I know he's tried to be smart about it and at the same time trying his best to get out there in a hurry."

  • Last 7 Days Record: 9-4-0
coleryan Posts:13321 Followers:19
10/10/2013 01:15 PM

Generating offense has been a constant struggle for the Jacksonville Jaguars so far this season. They have scored a league-low five touchdowns and they don't have a player with even two touchdowns to his credit.

But when good things do happen in what has been a low-impact passing game so far, wide receivers Justin Blackmon and Cecil Shorts have usually been a part of it. Shorts, who had three 1,400-yard seasons in his career at Mount Union, is on pace for 100 catches with 31 after five games. Shorts has already put up 148 yards against the Seahawks' secondary earlier this season and has been targeted at least 10 times in all five of the Jaguars games.

Because Blackmon, who missed time in training camp with a groin injury, was suspended for the season's first four games for violating the league's substance-abuse policy, Shorts has been the go-to guy. However, in his first game back in the lineup Sunday against the Rams, Blackmon finished with 136 yards on his five catches to go with a touchdown.

Blackmon is slightly bigger, at just more than 6-feet tall and 210 pounds. Shorts is slightly faster in the open field having posted 4.4s in his 40-yard dash leading up to the 2012 draft. Shorts ran in the 4.5s at the scouting combine before the 2010 draft. Overall defensive coaches say Shorts is a bit more elusive in the short area and a versatile enough player to have played quarterback a bit at Mount Union.

The Denver Broncos are on track to have their starting cornerbacks -- Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Champ Bailey -- lined up together for the first time this season. Bailey practiced fully Wednesday, the first time he has done that since injuring his left foot Aug. 17 in a preseason loss in Seattle.

Bailey's teammates said he had an interception in his first full practice, so they think he is ready to be back in the lineup. The Broncos figure to take an aggressive approach against Jaguars backup quarterback Chad Henne, so the Broncos defensive backs will have plenty opportunity to work in man coverage. The Jaguars have lined up with two wide receivers in the formation the majority of the time over their first five games so that would put the Broncos in their base 4-3 against that for the most part.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 9-4-0
coleryan Posts:13321 Followers:19
10/11/2013 11:57 AM

When Denver Broncos coach John Fox was asked if last week's narrow victory was good for his team after it breezed through its first four weeks, he made it clear he prefers the less-stressful moments.

"We don't go into each game trying to see how close we can make it," Fox said.

Few are expecting Sunday's home matchup with the winless Jacksonville Jaguars to be at all close, with Denver entering as the biggest favorite in NFL history.

The Broncos (5-0), winners of 16 consecutive regular-season games, matched Jacksonville's point total for the season in a 51-48 victory over Dallas last week. Peyton Manning threw his first interception but finished 33 of 42 for 414 yards and four touchdown passes, pushing his league-best total to 20.

Denver, which leads the league with 489.8 yards and 46.0 points per game, won its first four contests by an average of 22.3 points. On Sunday, it needed a 28-yard field goal from Matt Prater as time expired as it overcame a seven-point fourth-quarter deficit.

"It's going to happen. No team is invincible,'' safety Rahim Moore said. "It was ugly. It's the NFL. It's hard to win in this league."

Though the Broncos have mostly made it look easy this season, Fox insists his team will remain focused against a Jacksonville team that's dropped its last three by a combined 76 points.

"One thing I've learned is if you fall asleep at the wheel, you wreck,'' Fox said. "Sometimes dealing with prosperity is more difficult than the adversity. Our guys understand that. They understand it's more about the process than the results. They understand it's more about the preparation work which will relate to the performance.''

Denver's offense has been the class of the NFL, but the club is looking to improve defensively. The Broncos rank last against the pass with 347.0 yards allowed per game and are 29th in overall defense at 416.6 total yards, though they've been playing without suspended linebacker Von Miller and injured defensive back Champ Bailey.

However, Bailey was a full participant at practice Wednesday for the first time since hurting his left foot in a preseason game Aug. 17, and he's hoping to make his 2013 debut Sunday.

Denver will face Jacksonville's league-worst offense that averages 251.8 yards. The Jaguars will also likely have Chad Henne under center rather than Blaine Gabbert, who is expected to sit out with a hamstring injury.

Gabbert went 9 of 19 for 181 yards - 67 coming on a touchdown pass to Justin Blackmon in the first quarter - and two interceptions before leaving a 34-20 loss to St. Louis last week.

Henne went 7 of 13 for 89 yards and a score in relief. He's completed 55.8 percent of his passes and will be making his third start in place of Gabbert, who ranks last with a passer rating of 36.0 while throwing seven interceptions.

"As a quarterback, with that comes the responsibility of being a leader," coach Gus Bradley said. "I think our guys are working towards that, but they need to step it up. We feel strongly about both of them, we're going to challenge both of them and they're going to need to step up."

Blackmon may be able to help, as he caught five passes for 136 yards in his return from a four-game suspension for violating the league's substance-abuse policy. He'll provide another target in the passing game to go along with leading receiver Cecil Shorts.

The running game isn't in nearly as good shape. Maurice Jones-Drew is averaging 2.8 yards per carry, and the Jaguars rank 30th with 58.8 yards per game on the ground. Jacksonville will attempt to improve on that number without left tackle Luke Joeckel, who fractured his ankle against the Rams and will miss the rest of the season.

Denver ranks first against the run with an average of 69.6 yards allowed, though that number is somewhat deceiving given opponents' need to throw while trying to overcome the large deficits they've faced - which also inflates the Broncos' ugly pass defense numbers. The Broncos have faced 21.2 rushing attempts per game, second fewest in the league.

Manning's stellar performances have been the main reason for those big leads, and Bradley knows his team faces a tough test Sunday. Manning has completed 75.9 percent of his passes with 12 touchdowns in his last five starts against the Jaguars.

"He's the best that I've ever encountered," Bradley said. "How he manages the game, it appears like he never puts the team into a bad call. He knows everything about you on defense, he studies, he controls the whole offense. He's very talented."

Jacksonville has won three straight meetings with the Broncos, the most recent a 24-17 victory Sept. 12, 2010.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 9-4-0
coleryan Posts:13321 Followers:19
10/12/2013 10:43 AM

The Jaguars will try to pull off the upset without wide receiver Stephen Burton (concussion), quarterback Blaine Gabbert (hamstring), cornerback Dwayne Gratz (ankle), tight end Marcedes Lewis (calf) and defensive end Jeremy Mincey (concussion), but wide receiver Cecil Shorts (groin) is probable after missing time earlier this week.

Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey (foot) is set to play, but defensive end Robert Ayers (shoulder) and linebacker Wesley Woodyard (neck) are both doubtful to play.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 9-4-0