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“I think we have some interceptions this week”: Broncos face favorable matchup

Zac Stevens Avatar
December 1, 2016


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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The common phrase “any given Sunday” refers to the notion that nothing is guaranteed in the NFL. In most weeks 16 games are played across the country and nearly every single week there are multiple upsets.

However, this Sunday’s game between the Denver Broncos (7-4) and the Jacksonville Jaguars (2-9) should be as close to a sure thing as there is in the NFL, with or without Trevor Siemian.

Not only should the Broncos win solely based on the record of both teams, the Jaguars also matchup very favorably, specifically with Denver’s defense.

Despite having the third overall pick in the 2014 draft leading their offense under center, quarterback Blake Bortles, the Jags offense ranks in or near the bottom third of nearly every offensive category. Former Bronco and current Jag Malik Jackson put most of the blame for the team’s rough season on the shoulders of the offense.

“A big part [of the team’s struggles] has to do with our Offensive Coordinator and our offense not running right,” he said.

Despite having a very talented wide receiving core—Allen Robinson, Marqise Lee, Allen Hurns and Julius Thomas—Jacksonville averages the seventh worst completion percentage (59.6), the eighth worst passer rating (80.6) and Bortles leads the league in interceptions (13). Additionally, the Jags passing attack averages the twelfth fewest passing yards per game (237.9) even though they have the sixth most passing attempts.

“I was told that they have a new offensive coordinator so they made things more simple for the young quarterback,” safety Darian Stewart said. “They have some guys down so it will be a different battle.”

Since Jacksonville is a pass-first team they have the fifth fewest rushing attempts in the league averaging only 96.3 yards per game on the ground, ninth worst in the league. If the Jaguars stick with their offensive formula of pass first run second it would play right into the strength of the Broncos’ defense, something they would have no problem with.

“If that’s what they decide to do we don’t have a problem with that,” linebacker Todd Davis said. “But if they decide to come out and run the ball, like a lot of teams have done, we got to stop the run as well.”

Although Denver’s defense as a whole may not be as dominant as it was last year, the passing defense is just as good, if not better. Denver gives up the fewest passing yards per game (193.9), the lowest quarterback rating (72) and they lead the league in sacks per game (3.2), all crucial pieces to a successful pass defense. However, the Broncos’ run defense isn’t as stout giving up 120 yards per game, sixth worst.

“[Bortles] likes to sling it, he really trusts his receivers. It’s on us to come down with the ball,” Stewart said. “I think we have some interceptions this week…if the ball is in my area I’m picking it.”

Another aspect about this matchup that is favorable to the Broncos is the turnover battle. Going into Week 13 Denver’s defense ranks third in total takeaways with 20 on the season. Jacksonville’s offense, however, has given up the ball 22 times, enough for the second most in the league.

“If they want to give us the ball and turn it over, we will gladly take it,” Davis said. “That’s one of the things we love is getting turnovers. That’s something we try and get every week.”

While a 2-9 and 7-4 meeting could have “blowout” written all over it, specifically with how the two teams matchup, Davis warns that it may not be that easy.

“Watching them on film, their record is 2-9, but they are in a lot of close games, losing those games by close margins,” Davis said. “So it’s not an easy win by any means.”

In fact, Jacksonville is used to playing in close games. Eight of the eleven games that they have played have ended within a one score margin.

With the Broncos in a “must win” mentality in their final five games, they have their most winnable game against Jacksonville this Sunday.


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