JACKSONVILLE – Each Saturday during the 2021 season, Jaguars experts – Rick Ballou, Tony Boselli, Bucky Brooks, 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 TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville.
Brian Sexton, jaguars.com senior correspondent
- The Jaguars will win: If they can run. The Jaguars are 1-16 since the beginning of the 2019 season when their quarterback throws more than 35 times in a game. Run to win with a young quarterback.
- The Broncos will win: If they force the Jaguars to throw more than 35 times. Denver's defense is built to rush the passer with Von Miller and Bradley Chubb – and its secondary is the most expensive in football and filled with talented players. If Jaguars rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence has to face that rush 50 times, he's liable to have another multiple-interception afternoon.
- As Sexton sees it: Turning this ship around will take more than two Sundays, and it might take more than one season. I can't pick the Jaguars to beat anyone right now, not after a mistake-filled performance in Houston in which they repeatedly beat themselves. I'm not sure how long it will take, but it doesn't feel like a one-week turnaround.
John Oehser, jaguars.com senior writer
- The Jaguars will win if: They stop the Broncos' running game and eliminate the pre-snap – avoidable – penalties that plagued them in a Week 1 loss to the Houston Texans. Denver won't be fancy offensively, and the Jaguars must stop the run to have a chance to pressure quarterback Teddy Bridgewater into mistakes. None of which matters if the Jaguars commit nine penalties offensively in the first half.
- The Broncos will win if: They play to their potential defensively and pressure Lawrence into mistakes. The Jaguars' rookie quarterback threw three interceptions last week against the Texans' Cover 2 defense. Denver under Head Coach Vic Fangio will try to fool Lawrence with different pre-snap looks and disguised coverages, but the idea will be the same – to make the rookie make rookie mistakes.
- As Oehser sees it: This is a tough, but winnable, matchup for the Jaguars. The key is stopping the run and running effectively, because you don't want Lawrence throwing 50 times into the Broncos' complex defensive scheme.
Jeff Lageman, Jaguars analyst and former Jaguars defensive end
- The Jaguars will win if: They give themselves a chance by cleaning up quite a few areas from Week 1. The penalties must be eliminated to keep the offense from getting behind the chains. Denver's defense has the ability to cause major problems with that scenario having two outstanding edge rushers. Running successfully is imperative and having balance is the key to keeping Lawrence comfortable with a difficult defense to dissect.
- The Broncos will win if: Running backs Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams combine for 150 yards rushing. Bridgewater is a defensive-minded head coach's dream with his efficiency; if he has a strong running game, he will find other wide receivers to take the place of the injured Jerry Jeudy. The Broncos tight ends, led by Noah Fant, can also challenge a Jaguars defense that a week ago was having some trouble getting substitutions and communications accomplished.
- As Lageman sees it: This will be a tight game with a Jaguars team ready to bounce back at home. Lawrence will have his hands full against a talented secondary with great experience and Jaguars running back James Robinson must be a dominating force to control the tempo. Play-calling and the performance of the offensive line must be on point to allow this to happen. The Jaguars' defense must do something it hasn't done yet this season in the preseason or in Week One: get a takeaway. It must be two for a victory.
Brent Martineau, Action Sports Jax Sports Director
- The Jaguars will win: If they run for more than 125 yards. The Jaguars no doubt will try to run more after throwing 51 times last week, but the Broncos know that. If the Jaguars can still run effectively and put Lawrence in better situations, they have a good chance to limit Miller and Chubb – and do enough to win the game.
- The Broncos will win if: Bridgewater wins the time-of-possession game. The Jaguars couldn't get off the field last week and 16 of the Texans' 21 third-down conversions were four yards or less. It's easy for a quarterback to operate in those situations. I think the Jaguars will take their chances with Bridgewater throwing on third-and-seven plus. If Bridgewater controls the game as Texans quarterback Tyrod Taylor did last week, the Jaguars have no chance.
- As Martineau sees it: It feels a bit early to give up hope on the Jaguars. It's a week-to-week league and my expectation is they will play a much cleaner game this week. My issue in this game, the Broncos know the Jaguars want to run and the Broncos' defense is super-talented and more intricate than Houston's. This could be a tough day for Lawrence and the Jags. The Broncos will win, 24-16.
Ashlyn Sullivan, Digital reporter and host
- The Jaguars will win if: They don't beat themselves. The mistakes from Week 1 (penalties, substitution errors, missed coverage) cannot carry over to this game if the Jaguars are to have any chance. They continued to dig themselves a hole against the Texans, especially to start the game. The Jaguars must start fast against the Broncos and not take themselves out of the game by the second quarter with unforced errors.
- The Broncos will win if: They get a lead early. If the Jaguars' defense allows the Broncos' offense to drive down the field early in the first quarter and they suddenly find themselves down by two scores, the Jaguars will be in trouble. This will be when Miller and Chubb can do what they do best: rush the passer and cause disruption. The Jaguars must hold the Broncos early and make sure the momentum is on Jacksonville's side. A home crowd should help with this.
- As Sullivan sees it: This is tough to predict because we don't know the Jaguars' strengths. We didn't see that Week One due to so many errors. Head Coach Urban Meyer mentioned working on simplifying the offense this week. That must happen. If it does, I feel much better about this game. Still, I do not see the Jaguars winning this game. The Broncos' defense has so many favorable matchups one on one. This is a big test for the Jaguars' offensive line, and we will know where it stands after this game.
Frank Frangie, Radio Voice of the Jaguars
- The Jaguars will win if: They start well and find a way to regain confidence after the loss to Houston. The way that played out was a gut punch. They also must run the ball some and have a more committed effort to it. Finally, they must harass Bridgewater and get him off his spot.
- The Broncos will win if: They start fast and create more doubt for the Jags. That terrific defense makes life tough for opposing offenses, so the key for Denver will be not to turn it over, don't give the Jaguars a short field and make them prove they can put together drives.
- As Frangie sees it: This will be one of the best defenses the Jaguars face this season. They need their defense to keep them in it as it could be a low-scoring game. It's a tough, physical matchup for Jacksonville. The Jaguars must play tough, stop the run and get a break or two along the way.
Rick Ballou, Jaguars sideline reporter
- The Jaguars will win if: They limit mistakes. Last Sunday was totally unexpected as the Jaguars imploded early. I believe they respond Sunday and play a far more disciplined game. If they can run for over 120 yards, they should have much more success passing the football.
- The Broncos will win if: They run and stop the run. They will also do whatever they can to try and confuse Lawrence with multiple looks and pre-snap movement. The Broncos have one of the best secondaries in the NFL. If they force turnovers, they win.
- As Ballou sees it: I expect a much better game by Jacksonville. I believe accountability has been the emphasis this week and I expect the Jaguars to respond. The major question is can they make big plays. Unfortunately, Denver is a tough team to do this against.
J.P. Shadrick, Jaguars senior reporter
- The Jaguars will win if: They can keep the offense in manageable down-and-distance situations by running effectively. Third-and-seven or longer against the Broncos pass rush is bad for business. Also, get a takeaway or two on defense – those are good for business.
- The Broncos will win if: Bridgewater protects the football and Gordon gets in a groove. This Jaguars defense feels much improved against the run, as Texans backs last week were just over three yards per carry. The defense is only as good as the next week, though, and this is another challenge.
- As Shadrick sees it: It is the home opener, and there have been many fans who haven't seen football in person in a long time that should be at Sunday's game. This is also Meyer's and Lawrence's first opportunity to defend home turf in the regular season, and expect a vocal crowd response when they hit the field. If the Jaguars improve the details before the snap – sideline communication, substitutions, lining up properly – then we might feel much better this week than we did after last week's game. If the Jaguars don't beat themselves, then they should be in most games – then it's down to a few key moments in the game and the players to take advantage of them.
WEEK 2 · Sun 09/19 · 1:00 PM EDT