Denver Broncos (7-4 SU, 7-4 ATS) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-9 SU, 5-6 ATS)
NFL Week 13
Date/Time: Sunday, December 4, 2016 at 1PM EST
Where: EverBank Stadium, Jacksonville, Florida
by Scott, Expert Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: DEN -5/JAC +5
Over/Under Total: 41.5
The Denver Broncos come to EverBank Stadium to take on the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday. It’s a big game for Denver. Though still in pretty good shape at 7-4, they are losing touch with the Raiders at 9-2 and need to get back on the winning track after an upsetting overtime loss to Kansas City on Sunday. Jacksonville lost their sixth in a row on Sunday in a 28-21 loss to the Bills. They are in a major funk, though their last four losses were single-score defeats. Who can cover the spread this week?
Denver started the season 4-0 and have since gone 3-4. The things that had them looking good have dissipated some over the course of the season. The defense has seen their form slip some with injuries playing a big role. And the Denver offense has also taken a step back. Trevor Siemian is a fine young pro, but some forget he is a youngster dealing with some things for the first time. He doesn’t always run this offense all that smoothly. Against the Chiefs on Sunday Night Football, they led by 8 until very late, when a TD with a two tied it up, with KC winning the game late in OT with two seconds left after teams traded field goals early in the extra period. And this all happened at home for the Broncos, as they now take to the road.
Siemian does the best he can, but a running game is always a friend to young quarterbacks and at 3.6 yards per run and with CJ Anderson out of the mix, they don’t have it. Siemian has connected decently with Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas, though it seems like both receivers’ totals would be higher with most other quarterbacks behind center for the Broncos. Other than their top two receivers, there aren’t too many offensive weapons on this team. Still, they weren’t all that electric last season and still won the Super Bowl. It’s just without Manning’s cerebral approach, the Broncos seem relatively rudderless on this side of the ball this season.
If Denver is able to make a run this season; the defense will need to be a huge part of that equation. They have been the best defense against the pass this season in the league, allowing 193.9 yards a game through the air. With Aqib Talib back, they are that much better, along with Chris Harris, TJ Ward, and Darian Stewart. They’ve been much leakier against the run this season, ranked 27th in the league. But the front seven can be a playmaking one with a really tough pass-rush. Von Miller leads the league with 12.5 sacks, with Derek Wolfe and Shane Ray chipping in with some mayhem, as well. They’ve scored four times and after not really delivering for the past three weeks, look for a healthier Denver defense to start delivering this week, as they match up well with the kind of offense Jacksonville brings to the table.
Jacksonville has seen things go really sideways this season. On one hand, they’re the Jaguars so they’re used to it. But this was identified as a season where some things were supposed to come together for the Jags and it has been business as usual—losses in bunches and unfulfilled potential. The season began with 3 straight losses, before consecutive wins suggested a reversal of form. They haven’t won since and are now on a 6-game slide and 2-9 overall, though a semi-respectable 5-6 against the spread. The offense hasn’t clicked and the defense has severely underperformed, despite some positive signs.
The Jags’ defense has some players on it that can do damage. The secondary has been pretty good with Jalen Ramsey, Prince Amakamura, Jonathan Cyprien, and Tashaun Gipson. They’re the third-ranked passing defense in the league. The front seven has some guys getting after it with Malik Jackson and blossoming rookie end Yannick Ngakoue. All told, they’re the league’s 6th ranked defense. Yet, they are 27th in points allowed. They have been very un-clutch in critical situations and their resistance against the run can be dicey. Just like the offense, they are unable to achieve the bottom-line results that their talent would suggest.
We always talk about the good parts of the Jaguars offense. They have a few hard-running backs in Chris Ivory (questionable) and TJ Yeldon. The aerial attack has a lot of depth with talented receivers like Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns (questionable), and Marqise Lee, with a top-flight tight end in Julius Thomas (questionable). Blake Bortles has a big arm. And despite this, they are ranked 21st in the pass and 24th in the run, while being the 26th ranked scoring offense in the NFL. There is a chasm with the Jaguars in terms of what they can do what usually ends up happening, which isn’t very good.
Again, the Jags are not packing it in just yet. They have lost their last 4 games by one-score margins and are still playing with a certain level of energy and urgency. To say they’re a bad team is a fair-enough assessment, but teams looking for a gimme could be disappointed, as the Jaguars make opponents work hard for the win. Denver, however, won’t be asleep at the wheel this week. Kansas City and Oakland continue to win and they need to stay on the inside track of what will be a crowded AFC wild card picture. Teams heading into the postseason needs to notch these kinds of wins. While one can understand a position on the Jags this week, they got banged up last week against the Bills and this seems like good timing for a big Broncos win.
Scott's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I’m betting on the Denver Broncos minus 5 points.
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