|Jaguars at Broncos Point Spread Odds, Trends, Injuries & Matchup|
|Written by Anthony Rome|
|Wednesday, 08 October 2008 18:05|
Plenty of Offense
The Denver Broncos haven't had a problem racking up yards this season, ranking first in the AFC in total offense on the way to four wins in their first five games.
They're banking on their latest victory being a sign of better things to come from their defense.
Hoping their previously struggling defense has turned a corner, the Broncos will try to improve to 4-0 at home when they face the struggling Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday at Invesco Field.
Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Broncos –3.5 point spread favorites (View NFL Football odds) for Sunday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 56% of bets for this game have been placed on Jaguars +3.5 (View NFL Football bet percentages).
Denver (4-1) has surged to a two-game lead in the AFC West thanks to an offense that's averaging 415.0 yards through its first five games. Jay Cutler and the Broncos' passing attack have led the way, throwing for 296.8 yards per game, and Cutler leads all AFC quarterbacks in passing yards (1,502) while he's tossed 10 touchdowns and just four interceptions.
As dominant as Denver's offense has been, though, its defense has been nearly as bad. The Broncos are 29th in the league in total defense, allowing 388.4 ypg, and they came into last week's game against Tampa Bay giving up 29.3 points per game.
But in a game where Cutler and the offense struggled to find the end zone, Denver's defense came up big, allowing just two Buccaneers field goals in the game's first 58 minutes en route to a 16-13 win.
"We've been in some high-scoring ballgames, back and forth, and our defense has caught a little heat,'' said Cutler, who was 23-of-34 for 227 yards and a touchdown. "We had some trouble stopping some people, but we knew they were a lot better than that. It's good to see them lock it down this week.''
It was the Denver's third home win this season, all by a field goal or less. Dating back to their regular-season finale last year, the Broncos have won four straight at home by a total of nine points.
The Jaguars (2-3) are certainly used to playing close games. All five of Jacksonville's games this season have been decided by a touchdown or less.
With a win Sunday, the Jaguars can become just the sixth team ever outside the AFC West to post back-to-back wins in Denver. Jacksonville knocked off the Broncos 23-14 at Invesco Field on Sept. 23, 2007.
If they can't end Denver's six-game home losing streak, the Jaguars would fall 3 1/2 games behind idle Tennessee in the AFC South. Jacksonville had a chance to move within two on Sunday night against Pittsburgh, but down one late in the fourth, the Steelers drove for a touchdown to cap a 26-21 victory.
It was the fourth straight game in which the Jaguars had blown a fourth-quarter lead, though they'd rallied to win the previous two.
"It's something that simply has to be better,'' coach Jack Del Rio said, trying to explain another defensive meltdown. "It's the difference between being good and not being good. If you can't get off the field on third down, you give yourself more exposure to all the things you want to avoid.''
Jacksonville's defense ranks 22nd in the league in total defense (344.0 ypg) and has allowed 22.2 ppg, but it's been dealing with some key injuries. Safety Reggie Nelson and cornerback Drayton Florence missed the game against the Steelers, and Ben Roethlisberger took advantage, repeatedly going downfield against a Jaguars' secondary that's yielding 237.2 ypg.
Florence is expected back in Denver, but Nelson's return is unlikely and defensive tackle Rob Meier (knee) may be out as well.
Cutler will certainly look to air it out on Sunday, and he's got one of the game's best weapons at his disposal. Brandon Marshall leads the AFC in receiving ypg (105.8), and he's caught three touchdowns. Marshall had seven catches for 133 yards in the Broncos' loss to the Jaguars last year.
Del Rio, though, knows Marshall's success is all predicated on the man delivering the ball.
"(Cutler) is really operating at a very high level right now," he said. "Their offense overall is very, very productive and it all starts with the trigger man. He's done a great job with their offense."
Though Cutler will have Marshall and is likely to have rookie receiver Eddie Royal (sprained ankle) at his disposal, he'll be without Tony Scheffler and tailback Selvin Young, both of whom injured groins in the win over Tampa Bay.
Michael Pittman and Andre Hall are expected to fill in for Young, while Nate Jackson should get more time with Scheffler hurt.
"Injuries are always unfortunate but guys have always got to be able to jump in and make plays when they're called upon,'' Jackson said. "And my preparation's not going to change at all. Hopefully, the offense won't change at all, either.''
The Jaguars have been without the three interior members of their offensive line, and those absences have shown in their struggles to run the ball. After ranking second in the NFL with 149.4 ypg on the ground last season, Jacksonville is averaging just 108.8 ypg through five games this season.
Denver has done a better job containing Jaguars running back Fred Taylor than any team in Taylor's 11-year career. He's averaging just 50.6 yards in five career games against the Broncos.
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