Head-to-Head: Jaguars vs. Broncos

The Jacksonville Jaguars hit the road for the first time this season when they travel to Invesco Field at Mile High, to take on the Denver Broncos.

The Broncos find themselves with a 2-0 record, beating both the Buffalo Bills and Oakland Raiders thanks to two Jason Elam field goals on the final plays of each game. The Broncos lead the all-time regular season series between these two teams, 3-2, winning the last game back in 2005 in Jacksonville, 20-7. These teams have also faced each other twice in the playoffs, with each team winning once. The Jaguars improbable 1996 playoff upset of heavily favored Denver (17.5 point favorites), was one of the greatest upsets in NFL history, and is likely the greatest victory in Jaguars franchise history.

Broncos offense: 1st overall (5th passing, 3rd rushing), 17th scoring (19.0 ppg.) vs. Jacksonville defense 12th overall (2nd passing, 32nd rushing), 2nd scoring (10 ppg.)

    Offensively, the Broncos are known for their powerful rushing attack, which has been ranked in the top ten of the NFL every year since 2000. They employ a zone-blocking scheme which causes their smaller offensive line to take on defenders low, cutting out their legs. The Broncos featured running back is newly acquired Travis Henry, who is currently leading the NFL in rushing with 267 yards through two games. The Broncos are a physical, run-first type of team, and although the Jaguars did a much better job of stopping the run against Atlanta last Sunday, the Broncos will likely keep the ball on the ground against the Jaguars bottom-ranked rushing defense.

    When the Broncos air it out, they do so from the arm of second-year quarterback Jay Cutler. Cutler has a very strong arm, and good mobility, but has a tendency to make mistakes, as he's already thrown more interceptions than touchdown passes this season. Cutler's main target is former Florida State Seminole standout, Javon Walker. Walker is tied for the NFL lead with 17 receptions for 220 yards. Some of Cutler's other targets are former UCF star receiver Brandon Marshall, veteran wideout Brandon Stokely, and former New England Patriot tight end, Daniel Graham.

    The Broncos simply run the football against everyone. The Jaguars must slow down the Broncos rushing attack to have any chance to pull off an upset. The Jaguars will be thin in their secondary with the injury to Gerald Sensabaugh, and the Jacksonville corners must step up and cover Javon Walker and company well enough for the front seven or eight, to have a chance at stopping the run.

Jacksonville offense: 20th overall (14th passing, 21st rushing), T28th scoring (11.5 ppg.) vs. Denver defense: 2nd overall (1st passing, 27th rushing), T13th scoring (17.0 ppg.)

    The Jaguars will try again to establish the run against a Broncos defense that has had some trouble stopping the run (27th overall). Denver will likely commit to forcing quarterback David Garrard to beat them through the air. The Jaguars will try to run the football against a front four of Elvis Dumervil, Sam Adams, Amon Gordon, and John Engelberger. Former Florida Gators, Jarvis Moss and Marcus Thomas will fill in on passing downs, as well as rookie Tim Crowder. At linebacker, the Broncos start Ian Gold, D.J. Williams, and Nate Webster. Williams is clearly the best of the group, as he can play sideline to sideline.

    The Broncos secondary is headed up by the best guy in the business, Champ Bailey. Playing opposite Bailey is Dre Bly, who is a fine player in his own right. Denver's safeties are veteran John Lynch, and Nick Ferguson. The Broncos secondary matches up well against pretty much any set of receivers, especially the Jaguars starting receivers of Ernest Wilford and Dennis Northcutt.

    The Jaguars must be able to run the football effectively to have success against the Broncos. The wide receivers are overmatched, and the only real advantage the Jaguars may have is in tight end Marcedes Lewis.

Special teams

    The Broncos special teams unit is made up of kicker Jason Elam, punter Todd Sauerbrun, long snapper Mike Leach, and kick returner Quincy Morgan, and punt returner Domenick Hixon. The Jaguars counter this week with John Carney, Adam Podlesh, Joe Zelenka, Maurice Jones-Drew, and Dennis Northcutt. The Broncos probably have a slight advantage on special teams due to their kicker, but the Jaguars have the better return men.

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