The 0-1 Jacksonville Jaguars will be looking for their first victory tomorrow when the Denver Broncos visit TIAA Bank Field. It won't be an easy challenge, but it is one the Jaguars are embracing following a tough Week 1.
Do we think the Jaguars can beat the 1-0 Broncos at home? Who do we think stands out and who do we think has a big game? We break it all down below in this week's predictions.
Melvin Gordon is held to under 3.5 YPC
The Denver Broncos' game plan week in and week out is simple. They want to run the ball and lean on Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams to grind out games against opposing defenses while their own defense suffocates their opponents. The Broncos will likely look to do the same this week, but the Jaguars have some reason to believe they can hold firm. The Jaguars finished Week 1 as one of the best rushing defenses, with the only major gain allowed being a 29-yard Tyrod Taylor scramble.
Jacksonville limited Houston's strong backfield to 120 rushing yards on 37 carries (3.24 yards per allowed), and they did that against a relatively healthy Texans offensive line. The Broncos are set to likely miss starting guard Graham Glasgow as well, which bodes well for a strong Jaguars' run defense. The Jaguars have to be better at the goal-line and in short-yardage situations, but they have a chance to stop Gordon from making a big impact.
Jaguars allow Teddy Bridgewater to complete 70% of his passes
The Jaguars had major issues at stopping Houston's passing game last weekend, in large part because of the space the Jaguars were allowing in man coverage and the Jaguars' inability to prevent Houston from winning at the catch point. Taylor completed 63.6% of his passes against the Jaguars thanks to these factors, with the Jaguars only recording two pass breakups on 34 drop backs. This doesn't bode well for the Jaguars in Week 2 with Teddy Bridgewater coming to town.
Bridgewater doesn't have the strongest arm and he isn't the most aggressive passer, but you won't find many quarterbacks who are as consistently accurate as Bridgewater. Bridgewater completed 80% of his passes with a staggering completion percentage over expectation of 15.4, the fourth-best figure in the NFL in Week 1. Bridgewater rarely makes a mistake in terms of ball placement and the Jaguars didn't challenge many passes in Week 1, which could spell some trouble.
James Robinson records 20 touches
James Robinson has been a hot topic inside and outside of Jacksonville since a Week 1 performance in which he was given just five carries. Robinson had fewer carries and touches than backup running back Carlos Hyde last Sunday, but Robinson ran 20 more routes per Sports Info Solutions and ultimately was on the field for over 20 more snaps. Robinson is the Jaguars' top running back, so we predict he gets his touches this week as the Jaguars try to correct their mistakes of last week.
The Jaguars came out throwing the ball against Houston, starting off with 12 straight passes after the team's first two runs were penalized. The Jaguars have said over and over again this week they want to reverse that trend and only abandoned Robinson and the run game as a result of penalties pushing the offense behind the sticks. As a result, I predict the Jaguars come out of the gate trying to feed Robinson, ultimately giving the second-year back at least 20 touches on Sunday.
Jaguars' defense records three sacks
The Jaguars struggled to get home in terms of their pass-rush on Sunday, but they didn't struggle in terms of actually getting pressure. According to Sports Info Solutions, the Jaguars ranked second in the league with 19 quarterback hurries and 25 total pressures. The Jaguars finished with only one sack, but Josh Allen, Dawuane Smoot, Roy Robertson-Harris, and K'Lavon Chaisson all ended the game with multiple pressures.
The key, now, will be to turn those pressures into sacks. Bridgewater is an athletic quarterback who does a good job of extending plays and escaping pressure, but he isn't quite as elusive as Taylor. With the Jaguars hungry to get off the field on third-down and actually finish their pressures following a week where they over and over again were close but not close enough, I predict the Jaguars rack up three sacks against Bridgewater. It would be more with a less mobile quarterback, but Bridgewater is no slouch.
Denver wins 31-23
The Jaguars will likely look better this week than in Week 1, but that bar is fairly low. Expect for the Jaguars to start faster and look more competent in terms of simply organizing both sides of the ball, but don't expect for them to knock off the Broncos at home.
From Bridgewater's skill set making him an ideal candidate to carve up the Jaguars with efficient passing to the Broncos' lopsided advantage in the Von Miller/Bradley Chubb vs. Jawaan Taylor/Cam Robinson battle, things just point to a Denver win. Perhaps the Jaguars limit the offensive mistakes and force Denver to make a few of their own, but the Broncos winning by a touchdown or more seems like a safe bet.