How Denver matches up against Jaguars and predictions


Broncos (2-5) at Jaguars (2-5)

When: 7:30 a.m. MT, Sunday

Where: Wembley Stadium

Radio/TV: 850 AM, 94.1 FM/Westwood One/ESPN+ and KMGH-7

Broncos-Jaguars series: Broncos are 6-6 in 12 regular-season games dating back to 1995; the Broncos won 23-13 in the last meeting, on Sept. 19, 2021, in Jacksonville.

Key matchup

Broncos offense vs Itself

Last in the league in points per game. Last in red zone efficiency. Last in total penalties, the majority of which have been the offense’s fault, thus resulting in far too many long-yardage situations.

Entering Week 8 in London against a middling Jacksonville defense, Russell Wilson & Co. are running out of excuses.

Yes, there has been a learning curve with Wilson, a new offense and a first-year play-caller in Nathaniel Hackett. Yes, the offense has suffered key season-ending injuries, namely receiver Tim Patrick in training camp followed by tailback Javonte Williams in Week 4 and left tackle Garett Bolles in Week 5.

But as general manager George Paton explained this week, it’s time to put up or shut up as the Broncos enter Wembley Stadium with their season already hanging halfway off the cliff.

“It’s not just one thing as you can see (with the offense’s inefficiency),” Paton said, “I think it’s a lot of newness —  a new coaching staff, a lot of new players, new quarterback, new schemes. It doesn’t come all together (at once). I knew it wasn’t going to be a well-oiled machine. I thought it would take time. It has, but there’s a lot we have to work on.

“Then you have some injuries on offense. Our staff is trying to learn each other, and our players are trying to learn each other. It’s just a lot. No excuses — we need to play better. The offense hasn’t been good enough to win games. Defense has kept us in it, but the offense has to play better.”

That means Wilson has to finally find a groove on Sunday, as the quarterback is trending toward playing after missing last week’s loss to the Jets with a hamstring injury. He’ll need to rely on a makeshift backfield to do it, with Mike Boone now also on injured reserve, and hope to get a reversal of fortune from an offensive line that’s regressed in recent weeks without its anchor at left tackle.

Who has the edge?


Russell Wilson is trending toward returning from the hamstring injury that kept him out of last week’s loss. To this point, he’s played like Mr. Limited. Trevor Lawrence, in his second year after being the top overall pick in 2021, has nine TDs to four interceptions. Edge: Jaguars

Running back

The Broncos’ RB room is in tatters with Javonte Williams on season-ending IR (ACL) and Mike Boone on short-term IR (ankle). Melvin Gordon and Latavius Murray must step up. The Jags feature Travis Etienne Jr. after trading James Robinson to the Jets. Edge: Even

Receiver/tight end

Courtland Sutton’s consistent and Jerry Jeudy’s shown flashes, but beyond that, Denver’s weapons are underperforming. Rookie tight end Greg Dulcich likely starts again over Albert Okwuegbunam, who’s been inactive the past two weeks. The Jags have Christian Kirk, Zay Jones and TE Evan Engram. Edge: Jaguars

Offensive line

The Broncos’ front is banged up. They’re on their third option at left tackle (Calvin Anderson) while Billy Turner has been inconsistent at right tackle. Without a featured tailback, Denver needs to control the line of scrimmage more. The Jaguars are anchored by left tackle Cam Robinson. Edge: Jaguars

Defensive line

Mike Purcell is dealing with a knee injury. The combination of Dre’Mont Jones and D.J. Jones has been potent, but Denver is still susceptible against the run. The Jacksonville front features former Bronco Adam Gotsis as well as fellow end Roy Robertson-Harris. Edge: Broncos


Inside backer Josey Jewell is working his way back from a knee injury that kept him out the last two games. Edge rusher Bradley Chubb continues to play well despite increasing trade speculation. Jacksonville has Josh Allen while Foyesade Oluokun is a tackling machine. Edge: Even


Pat Surtain II continues to make his case as the NFL’s top cover cornerback. Damarri Mathis has been up-and-down replacing Ronald Darby (torn ACL). Justin Simmons’ return last week was a boost. Jaguars free safety Andre Cisco has two interceptions. Edge: Broncos

Special teams

Brandon McManus is coming off a shaky game where he missed an extra point and a field goal. The Broncos are still waiting for the explosive return from Montrell Washington. The Jags have second-year kicker Riley Patterson (10-of-11 this year on field goals). Edge: Even

Tale of the tape

Category Broncos Jaguars
Total offense 328.6 (23rd) 371.3 (7th)
Rush offense 109.4 (19th) 137.4 (9th)
Pass offense 219.1 (20th) 233.9 (15th)
Points per game 14.3 (32nd) 22.1 (T-16th)
Total defense 286 (2nd) 348.4 (17th)
Run defense 112.9 (15th) 110.3 (13th)
Pass defense 173.1 (2nd) 238.1 (20th)
Points allowed 16.4 (3rd) 19.6 (T-10th)

* Through Week 7

By the numbers

23.5%: The Broncos’ red zone touchdown percentage on offense, ranked last in the NFL.

25.0%: The Broncos’ red zone touchdown percentage on defense, ranked first in the NFL.

19: The number of passes defensed by Pat Surtain II so far in his career, which ranks first in team history among players in their first 22 career games.

9: Career sacks for Broncos defensive tackle D.J. Jones, who can hit double digitd and tie his career high for sacks in a single season (three) by bringing down Trevor Lawrence on Sunday.

297: Career touchdown passes for Russell Wilson. Three more, and he ties John Elway for 13th-most in NFL history.


Line: Jaguars -3

Bet on the Jaguars. Until the Broncos — ahem, the Broncos offense — goes out and proves it can put four quarters of quality football together, this team is dead in the water. Jacksonville will break its losing streak, or at least cover, because Denver still has no clue about its offensive identity.

Prop bet: More receiving yards, Jerry Jeudy vs. Christian Kirk

Against the Jets, Jeudy had his best game since Week 1, as Brett Rypien found him for seven catches for 96 yards. But Jeudy and Russell Wilson’s chemistry has been lacking since the Seattle opener. Kirk, meanwhile, is Jacksonville’s leading receiver. He’s also coming off a seven-catch, 96-yard performance. Bet on Kirk.

Post predictions

Mark Kiszla, columnist: Broncos 23, Jaguars 17

To paraphrase general manager George Paton, the Broncos have to win a blankety-bleep game sometime. Don’t they? Coach Nathaniel Hackett sure hopes so.


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