Most of the articles I rounded up last week correctly predicted a Denver Broncos win over the New York Giants. But not a single one predicted the dominant victory that Denver took away from MetLife Stadium (though MHR’s own Ian St. Clair did).
Now Vic Fangio has a September win under his belt & the Broncos are travelling to Jacksonville to face a Jaguars team that got thoroughly embarrassed by the Texans in Week 1. It’s time to take another look around the league to get an idea about how third party observers feel about the Broncos and their status as six-point favorites over Trevor Lawrence’s squad.
Pro Football Network
“We saw two polar performances from these rosters in Week 1. Denver laid down a marker that they could challenge for a playoff spot in the AFC, while the Jaguars looked like a team that might be picking high again in the 2022 NFL Draft. It is hard to see Denver not coming away with a reasonably convincing win in Week 2.”
Pick: Broncos 27, Jaguars 17
Will Brinson, of CBS Sports
“So this Urban Meyer thing is going great, right? Anytime you can sign a multi-year deal to essentially take over control of an NFL franchise only to answer “legitimate” (did you hear that question, lol) inquiries about leaving the team for a once-was college football program eight months later, things are probably going great. Sometimes this kind of turmoil rallies a locker room, but the dynamics of the Jags roster make it hard to believe it happens. It’s annoying because this is an obvious bounceback spot to take the Jags as huge home dogs. But they’re not good. Trevor Lawrence piled up garbage time numbers and Denver’s defense is a bit north of Houston’s. I originally leaned Jacksonville as a market correction spot and now I think Denver will roll them but I’m going to stick with my gut and pray for a backdoor from Lawrence as the second half scoring picks up. Fangio loves an unnecessarily close September football game.”
Pick: Broncos to win, Jags to cover
Jacob Camenker, of SportingNews.com
“Here’s something you probably don’t know about Teddy Bridgewater: during his career, the Broncos quarterback has posted a 36-13-1 record against the spread as a starter. He has been as steady as they come in terms of delivering covers, and he should have a chance to do that easily against the Jaguars.
Jacksonville is a dumpster fire right now, to put it kindly. Urban Meyer’s time in Jacksonville is already off to a rocky start, and his team just lost to the Texans by 16 despite being favored by three points.
The Broncos just manhandled the Giants and allowed only seven points before a last-second TD scramble by Daniel Jones cut the lead to 14. The Broncos have a strong roster and should be able to keep Trevor Lawrence and Co. in check. They have a good chance to win this game by double digits, though playing in hot, humid Jacksonville could be a challenge for Denver.”
TK’s Take: You’ll probably hear about the Jacksonville heat often in the next few days. Take it with a grain of salt, though. The forecast for Sunday currently tops out at 86°F with scattered thunderstorms, which is in line with the temperatures the Broncos have been practicing in lately.
Staff Picks, from The Athletic
“The Broncos may, in fact, have their quarterback. Denver averaged 335 yards per game last year before generating 420 in Teddy Bridgewater’s debut, a 27-13 win against the Giants. Bridgewater had 264 passing yards with a pair of touchdowns and looked particularly impressive when facing pressure. The Broncos have a defense capable of being a top-15 unit when healthy. If the offense can match that, the Broncos have a chance to be competitive this year. Denver looks to move to 2-0 when it travels to the Jaguars in Week 2. The Broncos opened as six-point favorites after covering in Week 1.
Jacksonville showed it has a long way to go under Urban Meyer. The addition of Trevor Lawrence was cause for optimism, but a 16-point loss to the Texans was an even more harsh reality check. The Jaguars fell behind early and abandoned the run game, forcing the No. 1 pick in April’s draft to attempt 51 passes in his NFL debut. The Jags defense looked awfully similar to the group that finished bottom-two in points allowed, surrendering 37 points and 449 yards to the Texans. Jacksonville may not be favored in another game this season.”
Mike Morrison: Broncos (0-1 picking Broncos games in 2021)
Mark Kaboly: Jaguars (0-1)
Chris Burke: Broncos (1-0)
Dugar: Broncos (1-0)
Reed: Broncos (1-0)
Kosmider: Broncos (1-0)
Terrell: Broncos (0-1)
Nguyen: Broncos (1-0)
Pick: 7 analysts picking the Broncos to win, vs 1 analyst picking the Giants to win.
Staff Picks, from USA Today
Jarrett Bell: 20-17 Broncos (0-1 picking Broncos games in 2021)
Nate Davis: 29-13 Broncos (1-0)
Jori Epstein: 21-17 Broncos (0-1)
Mike Freeman: 16-13 Broncos (1-0)
Mike Jones: 24-21 Broncos (1-0)
Mike Middlehurst-Schwartz: 21-10 Broncos (1-0)
Lorenzo Reyes: 27-16 Broncos (0-1)
TK’s Take: I guess it’s possible to predict a team to win and still disrespect them. Four analysts picking Jacksonville to cover the spread, given the state of each team and the outcomes of their Week 1 games, seems rather odd.
Pick: All seven analysts pick the Broncos to win, but four picking the Jaguars to cover.
Emmanuel Morgan, of the NY Times
“Urban Meyer started his tenure as an N.F.L. coach poorly, with a Jaguars loss against the ransacked Texans roster. His second outing will only be tougher, as he tries to advise the rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence on facing a strong Broncos defense led by linebacker Von Miller, who posted two sacks in his return from the ankle injury that sidelined him in 2020. Denver (1-0) will be without receiver Jerry Jeudy, who is expected to miss at least four weeks because of an ankle sprain. But the Broncos’ defense should be able to contribute some scoring of its own against a young passer.”
Pick: Broncos -6
“The Denver Broncos just took down the New York Giants with a double-digit road victory. So why are they laying just six points in another road game against the Jacksonville Jaguars? After all, Jacksonville has lost 16 straight games and was just smashed by a Texans team in disarray.
Four of six panelists agree the Broncos should be a bigger favorite.
“The Jaguars already have the feeling of a team coming apart at the seams after only one week,” Sobleski said. “Maybe Urban Meyer isn’t cut out to be an NFL head coach. The transition hasn’t exactly been smooth. The Broncos are flawed with Teddy Bridgewater leading the way, but the veteran quarterback is an efficient operator. He has been his entire career. Trevor Lawrence could be great one day. But this year’s No. 1 overall pick simply lacks the surrounding cast to lead the Jags over the Broncos at this stage of his career.”
Denver did lose receiver Jerry Jeudy to an ankle injury in Week 1, but that pass-catching corps is quite deep, and at least the Broncos might get Pro Bowl pass-rusher Bradley Chubb back from an ankle injury of his own.
Still, the unpredictable early-career Trevor Lawrence factor is a potential wrench here, which might explain why we remain far from unanimous on this pick.”
Davenport: Jacksonville (1-0 picking Broncos games in 2021)
Gagnon: Denver (0-1)
Kenyon: Denver (1-0)
O’Donnell: Jacksonville (0-1)
Rogers: Denver (0-0)
Sobleski: Denver (0-1)
Consensus: Denver -6
Pick: Broncos 27, Jaguars 17
TK’s Take: Teddy Bridgewater completed 77.78% of his passes for 264 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs and a QB rating of 115.7, and BR is still crapping on him ahead of a matchup against the Jaguars, of all teams? What does the man have to do to get some respect on his name? At least the dominant win over the Giants convinced most of BR’s panelists that the Jags stand little chance this Sunday.
Staff Picks, from Bleeding Green Nation
BLG: Broncos (1-0 picking Broncos games in 2021)
Shamus: Jaguars (1-0)
Tyler: Broncos (0-1)
Sifford: Broncos (1-0)
Alexis: Broncos (0-1)
Stolnis: Broncos (0-1)
Natan: Broncos (1-0)
Pick: 6 analysts picking the Broncos vs 1 picking the Jaguars
ESPN Expert Picks
Acho: Broncos (1-0 picking Broncos games in 2021)
Bowen: Broncos (1-0)
Clay: Broncos (1-0)
Fowler: Broncos (1-0)
Foxworth: Broncos (1-0)
Graziano: Broncos (1-0)
Ninkovich: Broncos (0-1)
Rutledge: Broncos (1-0)
Pick: All 8 analysts picking the Broncos.
After the Broncos exceeded outside expectations against the Giants last Sunday, there’s a pretty heavy trend toward believing Denver is finally a strong team again - at least against the hapless mess that is the Jaguars. The Broncos are so heavily favored that it almost feels like a trap game at this point. But I’ve got to think the players and coaches are too hungry after five years of failure to be satisfied by just one good win.