Game Preview: Jaguars at Broncos

Preview of the matchup when the Jaguars visit Denver on Sunday. The Jaguars have tons of questions on offense and defense after dropping a game to the Steelers Sunday night, 26-21. Denver bounced back from a disappointing effort in Kansas City by defeating Tampa Bay at home, 16-13.

Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Denver Broncos
Sunday, October 12, 2008, 4:15 p.m.
Invesco Field, Denver, CO


Records:  Jacksonville 2-3, Denver 4-1

Series history: Tied at 3 (regular season). Teams split two playoff meetings.

Last season: Jacksonville won 23-14.

Denver offense 2nd overall (2nd passing, 14th rushing); Scoring- 3rd – 29.8 ppg. vs. Jacksonville defense 21st overall (26th passing, 15th rushing); Scoring- 17th- 22.2 ppg.

Denver is led by dynamic quarterback Jay Cutler, who is really coming into his own. Cutler is completing 65.4% of his passes, has 10 TD passes and just 4 INT's. Cutler has a 98.1 passer rating and has been sacked only twice.

The Broncos may have the best receiver in the NFL in Brandon Marshall. Marshall leads the team with 34 receptions for 423 yards and three touchdowns. Along side of Marshall is surprising rookie Eddie Royal (injured) who has caught 30 passes for 321 yards and two touchdowns. Brandon Stokely is a great slot receiver and tight ends Tony Scheffler (injured) and Daniel Graham are solid targets.

The Broncos ground game isn't as good as in years past, but much of that can be attributed to the success they've enjoyed through the air. Selvin Young is the featured back, and he has 266 yards rushing and is averaging 5.7 yards per carry. Former Tampa Bay Buccaneer Michael Pittman is the short-yardage back, and the powerful back has four touchdowns already this season.

The young Denver offensive line has done a great job of protecting Jay Cutler this season, and it will be difficult for the Jaguars to manufacture much of a pass rush.

The Jaguars secondary makes big plays, but also allows big plays. Cornerback Drayton Florence is expected to be back, and Rashean Mathis will likely be matched up against Brandon Marshall. It is unclear at this time whether or not safety Reggie Nelson will be able to play, as he's recovering from an injured knee.

Best offensive matchup for Denver: Brandon Marshall vs. Jaguars CB's- Unless the Jaguars can have the "Mathis-of-old" consistently matched up with Marshall, Cutler to Marshall will be a dangerous combination in this game

Best defensive matchup for Jacksonville: Jags rotation of DT's vs. Denver interior offensive line- If the Jaguars can get some inside pressure from their big defensive tackles against an inexperienced Broncos offensive line, they can disrupt Jay Cutler.

Jacksonville offense 26th overall (23rd passing, 19th rushing); Scoring- 23rd 20.0 ppg. vs. Denver defense 29th overall (30th passing, 25th rushing); Scoring- 25th – 26.0 ppg.

Jaguars quarterback David Garrard had been underwhelming to begin 2008, as he has already surpassed his interception total of a year ago (3), but he's played much better in the past three games. With teams loading up with eight and nine men in the box, Garrard and the Jaguars passing game will have to prove they can make plays, and they must take some shots downfield. Matt Jones is the team's best possession receiver, and Mike Walker is emerging into one of the Jaguars best receivers. Tight end Marcedes Lewis caught a touchdown pass last Sunday.

The Jaguars will be facing a small Denver defensive line that has struggled with stopping the run. Both Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew will be motivated to run and run hard, as they were completely shut down by the Steelers defensive line a week ago. Trying to stop the run will be the Broncos line which is made up of undersized ends Elvis Dumervil and John Engleberger, with Marcus Thomas and Alvin McKinley inside.

Denver has good athletes in their 4-3 scheme which is led by linebacker D.J. Williams, along with Nate Webster and Boss Bailey.

The Broncos secondary is led by Pro Bowl cornerback Champ Bailey, along with Dre Bly. The safeties are Marlon McCree and Marquand Manuel, and Karl Paymah adds solid depth at corner.

Best offensive matchup for Jacksonville: Jaguars offensive line vs. Broncos defensive line. The Jaguars have a huge size advantage and they should be able to push around the smaller Broncos, even if they put eight men in the box.

Best defensive matchup for Denver: Champ Bailey vs. David Garrard. Garrard must be careful when throwing to Bailey's side as the Broncos "Champ" is one of the very best corners in the league.

Special Teams

Denver: PK Matt Prater, P Brett Kern, LS Mike Leach, KOR/PR Eddie Royal

Jacksonville: PK Josh Scobee, P Adam Podlesh, LS Joe Zelenka, KOR Brian Witherspoon, PR Brian Witherspoon

Special teams advantage: The Jaguars have a better coverage unit, and the more explosive return men. Kicker Matt Prater is having a great season, and Brett Kern looks like a solid rookie punter, but the Jaguars have a slight advantage overall.


Jags Illustrated Top Stories