The Denver Broncos are 5-0 and coming off a stressful, but exciting 51-48 victory over the Dallas Cowboys. It was an offensive slugfest, with Tony Romo standing toe-to-toe with Peyton Manning. Ultimately, though, Romo and the Cowboys came up just short. By all accounts, Sunday's Week 6 matchup will be a lot less ... contested.
That's because the Broncos will be taking on the 0-5 Jacksonville Jaguars, who are coming off a two-touchdown loss to the St. Louis Rams. Jacksonville has not finished a game within one score of an opponent this season. Most believe this one won't be pretty.
But let's take a look at them anyway, starting with the home team:
Meet the Broncos
If you have the NFL's top passing offense and the NFL's worst passing defense, do you end up with an 8-8 team in the end? It's certainly possible, but given that the Broncos are 5-0, it's not likely. Denver averages 373.8 passing yards per game, and the defense has averaged 347.0 passing yards allowed per game.
Still, thus far, the offense has prevailed, scoring at least 37 points in every game. The Broncos have scored over 50 points in their last two games, and over 40 points in two others. This team makes defensive coordinators weep. As it happens, they're also well off in the running department, with 116.0 rushing yards per game.
Denver could not possibly exude "open up the running game with the pass" more than they have through five games. Their rush defense is stellar as well, allowing just 69.6 rushing yards per game on average. Then again, teams have to pass to keep up with them.
Meet the Jaguars
The Jaguars are essentially the opposite of the Broncos. There's no nice way to say it: they're unbelievably bad. They're looking like an 0-16 team this season with few redeeming qualities. They are No. 29 in the league in passing offense, No. 30 in the league in rushing offense, No. 32 in the league in rushing defense and ... No. 10 in the league in opposing passing yards.
That might seem like a ray of hope, but then again, the Jags haven't faced tough offenses this year. Alex Smith, Terrellee Pryor and Sam Bradford are three of the quarterbacks they've faced.
Jacksonville needs something to go right. The stats are so far apart, it's hard to suggest that Chad Henne needs to do something specifically or that Maurice Jones-Drew needs to attack at a certain angle. This is just a rough, rough matchup.
Local Takes: Broncos
Scotty Payne of Mile High Report looks at a woeful Jaguars offense as the panacea for the penetrable Broncos D:
Quarterback Blaine Gabbert is out for this game, and backup Chad Henne will man the Jaguars offense. As I covered earlier, the Jags have two good young receivers in Blackmon, and Shorts, but can their quarterback get them ball? The Jaguars are ranked 29th in the league in passing. Running Back Maurice Jones-Drew is averaging a miserable 2.8 yards per carry, and the team as a whole is only averaging 58.8 yards a game on the ground. So they're obviously not very good. Also they are without their two starting tackles for this game. They traded Eugene Monroe to the Ravens last week, and first round pick Luke Joeckel suffered a season ending injury.
So the Broncos are facing an offense that ranks near the bottom in every offensive category, and are without their two Week One starting offensive tackles and their backup QB? There will be no excuses for this defense if it struggles against this team. I expect multiple turnovers and sacks from the Broncos defense this week.
Local Takes: Jaguars
Alfie Crow of Big Cat Country looks longingly at an unfamiliar sight -- a roster full of talent:
For me, I would choose tight end Julius Thomas, which will probably surprise quite a few people since I could easily just pick Peyton Manning or Von Miller, which are players at the two biggest holes on the Jaguars roster.
For me, Manning wouldn't be a long term solution for the Jaguars and just a stop-gap player, however still a great addition. Miller, while a fantastic pass rusher, makes me a bit nervous with his off the field issues and suspension that could have been a year long. No telling how long he would be gone if he messed up again.
Thomas however is a young ascending player at the tight end position who is inline more with the new-age NFL tight end, in that he's a big fast athlete who can hurt teams down the middle of the field and in the endzone. Thomas, originally a fourth-round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, played four seasons of basketball at Portland State before playing his first ever season of football in 2010.
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Unsurprisingly, all of SB Nation's five experts picked the Broncos to win this one. You can see the rest of their Week 6 picks here.
The lines for this matchup broke records, as the Broncos opened up as 27-point favorites over the Jaguars, according to OddsShark. So ... there's that.