JACKSONVILLE – Each Saturday during the 2019 season, nine Jaguars experts – Rick Ballou, Tony Boselli, Frank Frangie, Jeff Lageman, Brent Martineau, John Oehser, Brian Sexton, J.P. Shadrick and Ashlyn Sullivan – will break down the following day's Jaguars matchup.
Up this week:
The Denver Broncos at Empower Field at Mile High in Denver, Colorado.
Rick Ballou, Jaguars sideline reporter
The Jaguars will win if: They get to Broncos quarterback Joe Flacco. He was sacked six times last week against Green Bay, while Sacksonville returned with nine against Tennessee. Denver ran the ball last week, so the Jaguars will try to make them one-dimensional.
The Broncos will win if: They confuse Jaguars rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew II. Broncos Head Coach Vic Fangio at times rushed three men while dropping eight on third and long last week against the Packers, and Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers made them pay. Denver has been hearing all week about having zero sacks on the season. Look for more five-man pressures and some blitzing, especially if Jacksonville struggles to run the ball.
As Ballou sees it: Denver is missing some key guys on defense and the Jaguars have made it a priority to fix the run game. They will be able to do that and create a couple of turnovers for a victory on the road.
Tony Boselli, Jaguars analyst and former Jaguars left tackle
The Jaguars will win if: They can get an above average rushing performance – over 110 yards – from their running backs. The Broncos have two really good pass rushers (yes, I know they currently have zero sacks) in Von Miller and Bradley Chubb, and the Jaguars do not want to be in obvious passing situations too often. It is time for the offensive line and running back Leonard Fournette to carry their weight in the run game.
The Broncos will win if: They can get an early lead and force the Jaguars to play catch up. As good as Minshew has been, if the Broncos can control the game early and make the Jaguars play catch and press on offense, that will play right into the hands of the Broncos' defense and their two stud pass rushers.
As Boselli sees it: Minshew Mania will be alive another week. This will be the week the Jaguars' offense puts it all together. Not only will Minshew have another nice game, Fournette is going to have a huge day with over 100 yards and multiple touchdowns. The Jaguars will go into Mile High and make a statement: Jaguars 24, Broncos 13.
Frank Frangie, Radio Voice of the Jaguars
The Jaguars will win if: They protect Minshew and give him a chance to keep doing what he is doing. There will be opportunities. The defense should wreak havoc on the Broncos' challenged offensive line. Flacco was sacked six times a week ago and the Jaguars sacked Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota nine times. That adds up to trouble for Denver. If all this happens, Jacksonville should be in good shape.
The Broncos will win if: They get a pass rush going; they have elite pass rushers who haven't gotten going yet. And Flacco must get the ball out against a ferocious Jags rush. He tends to hold the ball, which will be the kiss of death against the Jaguars.
As Frangie sees it: I like where the Jags sit in this one. They have some positive momentum behind the most-talked-about rookie quarterback in the league. Protect him, continue to rush the passer on defense, and Jacksonville wins.
Jeff Lageman, Jaguars analyst and former Jaguars defensive end
The Jaguars will win if: If they continue to play strong defense against a Broncos offense struggling to score. A key here: containing second-year running back Phillip Lindsay, who as an undrafted rookie last year was a force. Keeping Denver to a low output will allow the Jaguars' offense to have balance, keeping Miller and Chubb from pinning their ears back and rushing the passer, which despite being sackless this season is what they do best.
The Broncos will win if: They can make Minshew look like a rookie in one of the NFL's best "home" environments. The Denver defense doesn't have a sack or a takeaway under defensive-minded Fangio, and the Broncos will be looking to change that in Mile High. The immobile Flacco has been harassed a bunch, sacked 11 times and hasn't been able to find explosive plays; if the Broncos can make the running game work with Lindsay, it will allow Flacco to find some chemistry with his new receivers.
As Lageman sees it: I keep expecting Minshew to look like a rookie, but he hasn't yet; closer inspection of the film doesn't reveal any evidence he will. His performances have been very good and he is operating the offense efficiently. Does he have a delay of game yet or wasted timeouts?? If Minshew can get a better running game, the Jaguars will get a big bump in production that will be needed in Denver facing one of the league's best edge tandems. I'm expecting this to be a defensive battle going down to the wire with whoever gets their first defensive takeaway of the season winning.
Brent Martineau, Action Sports Jax Sports Director
The Jaguars will win if: They run for over 100 yards. The Broncos are desperate and will come after Minshew. Fournette must get on track this week to help the play-action game.
The Broncos will win if: They force two or more turnovers. Minshew has not put the ball in danger in the passing game so far. He has to watch the strip sacks as well, but if the Broncos can't force turnovers it will be tough to win.
As Martineau sees it: I like the Jaguars on the road this week. I think the Jaguars used the extra time to figure out things in the run game and get healthy. Whether it's Minshew Mania or just momentum, I sense a confidence around this Jaguars football team. Jags: 23-10.
John Oehser, jaguars.com senior writer
The Jaguars will win if: They get an early lead, which will allow them to do what they do best – which is to rush the passer and create havoc for opposing offenses. The Jaguars used this formula to perfection in a victory over Tennessee last week, and this will remain their best winning formula for a young quarterback and potentially elite defense.
The Broncos will win if: They get momentum early. They're a desperate team trying to save their season, and early scores will get the home crowd involved – and give Miller and Chubb a chance to rush Minshew. If that pair gets their first sacks and takeaways of the season, the Broncos also could get their first victory of the season.
As Oehser sees it: If this game were in Jacksonville, it could be a relatively comfortable Jaguars victory. Mile High is a big advantage for the Broncos, and the atmosphere will be one of a team and fan base trying to keep this season alive. That makes this a tough game for the Jaguars, but it's one they will find a way to win.
Brian Sexton, jaguars.com senior correspondent
The Jaguars will win if: They can get their running game started. There's no denying that behind Minshew, the Jaguars' passing attack looks as good as it has since late 2017 and with more upside. As good as the kid has played, it's unrealistic to expect him to keep playing to that level without help. Fournette may not be the star we thought he was coming out of LSU, but he's more than good enough to carry the load and create the play-action opportunities that should make Minshew even more effective. Don't look now, but the run-first days in Jacksonville may be over.
The Broncos will win if: They can get their pass rush in Minshew's face. The rookie has only turned the ball over once, in Houston, when he lost the ball while being sacked in the third quarter. Miller and Chubb are top pass rushers but are still looking for their first sack of the season. If they can get it going and make life hard on Minshew, they can make life considerably easier on a Denver offense that so far has made the easy look hard.
As Sexton sees it: The Jaguars will get their first road win of the season in Denver. They're coming off eight consecutive quarters of defensive brilliance and the quarterback has strung together five quarters of really productive football. This team, despite the Jalen Ramsey story, has some genuine momentum and energy on both sides of the ball. The Broncos are wallowing in their first 0-3 start in 20 years and despite plenty of talented players, seem to be in a deep funk under Fangio. These are two teams going in different directions and I think the Jaguars will win one that they should – though most of the rest of the league would call this winning one they weren't supposed to get.
J.P. Shadrick, jaguars.com reporter/editor
The Jaguars will win if: They can continue to move the ball on offense. Stay in this game, preferably with the lead, but try to avoid getting behind by a couple of scores and having to get into obvious passing situations. You don't want this to be a "get-well" game for Von Miller and Co.
The Broncos will win if: They can maintain the running game against this Jaguars front seven and cash in scoring opportunities. Also, if they get a couple of takeaways from Minshew, they could be in business.
As Shadrick sees it: The Ramsey drama seems to be a weekly theme around here, so maybe this team will just get used to it; so far, so good. There seems to be plenty of confidence in this locker room right now after last week's win. Denver is desperate, though, and the Broncos are defending their home turf. At least keep pace with the Broncos and don't get too far behind. If you do, then the crowd and that Broncos defense could get fired up.
Ashlyn Sullivan, Digital reporter and host
The Jaguars will win if: The running game improves. The emphasis from Head Coach Doug Marrone and the entire offense has been communicating better on the offensive line to create more holes for Fournette, who this week called his lack of production frustrating. Minshew would greatly benefit from a better running game and the entire offense will be more productive if the Jaguars can get back to what they were known for in 2017: running the ball.
The Broncos will win if: Jaguars tackles Cam Robinson and Jawaan Taylor don't show up to play. The Broncos have two star edge rushers with Miller and Chubb, both of whom are explosive players who can wreak havoc on an offensive line. Robinson and Taylor must hold their own and protect Minshew with two elite athletes pressuring them the entire game.
As Sullivan sees it: Despite the Broncos being favored, the Jaguars have a more complete team. No one on the Broncos' offense should scare the Jaguars. If the defense plays anywhere close to how they played during Thursday Night Football, they will win in convincing fashion.