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Predictions & Projections
David M. Dorey
The Huddle
September 19, 2004
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
STL at ATL DEN at JAX* Sun 4 PM IND at TEN Mon 9 PM
CLE at DAL* CAR at KC* SEA at TB* NYJ at SD MIN at PHI*
HOU at DET SF at NO* BUF at OAK* Times ET *updated
  Denver Rush Catch Pass
QB Jake Plummer 30,1 0 180,1
RB Quentin Griffin 80 10 0
TE Jeb Putzier 0 10 0
WR Rod Smith 0 80,1 0
WR Darius Watts 0 30 0
WR Ashley Lelie 0 50 0
PK Jason Elam 1 FG 2 XP -
  Jacksonville Rush Catch Pass
QB Byron Leftwich 0 0 170
RB Fred Taylor 90,1 20 0
TE Kyle Brady 0 10 0
TE George Wrighster 0 10 0
WR Jimmy Smith 0 40 0
WR Troy Edwards 0 60 0
WR Reggie Williams 0 30 0
PK Josh Scobee 2 FG 1 XP -

DEN (1-0) vs JAX (1-0)

Game Prediction: DEN 17, JAX 13

This should provide an interesting matchup. Both teams are undefeated and the Broncos still have a big rushing game. The Jaguars are playing just good enough to win and are back at home.

Pre-Game Notes - DEN

So far the swap of Clinton Portis for Champ Bailey looks pretty good. Then again, why can't they all be the KC rush defense?

Quarterback: The jury is still out on Jake Plummer who continues to mix bad decisions with good play. Last week against the Chiefs, Plummer threw for 230 yards and two touchdowns and yet had two interceptions - one he threw with his left hand. He also rushed for 33 yards. With the running game not likely to be so prolific this week, Plummer needs to settle down and make the difference.

Running Backs: Not a bad way to start the season. Quentin Griffin rushed for 156 yards and two touchdowns and added a third score on a pass against the anemic KC defense. He looked every bit as explosive as Clinton Portis and did a great job blocking when needed as well. Then again - this was KC in Denver. Portis had 218 yards and five scores in their last meeting.

Garrison Hearst sprained his ankle during the game and was replaced by Tatum Bell who ran twice for 11 yards. Hearst will be evaluated on Wednesday and if he cannot play, Bell will again take his place.

Wide Receivers: While Rod Smith led receivers with seven catches for 76 yards, Ashley Lelie had 88 yards on his six catches and came up big at the end of the game when the Broncos needed the insurance score. Darius Watts had only one catch but when the running game is having their way with the opponent, there was less need to pass.

Tight Ends: In their first game without an upper tier tight end, the Broncos only threw three times to Jeb Putzier and he had two catches for 25. That will likely remain about the standard.

Match Against the Defense: Now let's see what Griffin really has under the hood.

The Jaguars held Travis Henry to only 75 yards on 23 carries ( 3.3 YPC) and gave up only one 100 yard effort last season to Stephen Davis in Carolina in week one. Knowing that Griffin is the new weapon "du jour" for Denver, he'll get plenty of attention by the defense.

For Denver to succeed, they will have to not only pass well but minimize turnovers. Rod Smith should continue to lead the receivers in catches and faces the same secondary that allowed Eric Moulds 75 yards and one touchdown. Jacksonville has also been soft in the past against tight ends but that is no longer featured by the Broncos.

Pre-Game Notes - JAX

Jacksonville spent 58 minutes looking like they had no real offense and then two minutes like they were unstoppable. Fortunately those two minutes came as the clock expired and resulted in the win.

Quarterback: Byron Leftwich likes to save the best for last. He was more than bad against the Bills for most of the game, throwing two interceptions and missing receivers. On the final drive he marched the team down until winning the game on fourth down and evading a lot of questions without that final drive. He still only ended 18 of 36 for 147 yards and the one touchdown. Going against the new look Denver secondary will not likely be much better.

Running Backs: Fred Taylor found little room to run last week against the Bills and only turned in 61 yards on 17 carries. It was just like last season when he started out with only two consecutive 71 yard games before catching fire the rest of the way. Taylor should find the Denver defense more accommodating than the Bills - at least Priest Holmes certainly did.

Wide Receivers: Short of Jimmy Smith (4-83), there was no receiver on this team with any real contribution other than Ernest Wilford's seven yard touchdown catch (his only of the game). Leftwich is either regressing or bothered more by his hand than is let be known. Reggie Williams had his first NFL game and only managed two catches for nine yards. If the planned Williams-Leftwich connection is supposed to be the future, they better bring a flashlight.

Tight Ends: There were only 21 yards between Todd Yoder and George Wrighster. Not a factor.

Update: Kyle Brady has been declared out again this week. Wrighster and Yoder will again fill in.

Match Against the Defense: You have to like Fred Taylor's chances against the same defense that gave up 172 rushing yards last week but given the state of the passing game, Fred will be dancing with eight partners on every play. The bad news is that Denver likes Champ Bailey so much that they do not even treat him like a typical "stay there" cornerback and pit him against the best player when needed. That means Jimmy Smith is not likely to have a big day or even an average one unless the coverage somehow miraculously shifts away from him.

The Broncos will continue to use CB Kelley Herndon since Lenny Walls is still out and that could spell better things for the other receivers that so far Leftwich has not proven he can even notice.

DEN JAX 2003 Averages JAX DEN
Gains Allows QB's Gains Allows
230 153 Pass yards 147 184
2 1 Pass TDs 1 0
2 0 Interceptions 2 1
33 -4 Rush yards 11 1
0 0 Rush TDs 0 0
--- --- RB's --- ---
172 106 Rush yards 72 38
2 0 Rush TDs 0 1
8 21 Receive yards -1 19
2 0 Receive TD's 0 0
--- --- WR's --- ---
186 147 Receive yards 136 123
0 0 Receive TD's 1 0
--- --- TE's --- ---
25 28 Receive yards 12 42
0 0 Receive TD's 0 0
--- --- PK's --- ---
2 1 Field Goals 2 1
4 1 Extra Points 1 1
--- --- DEF/ST --- ---
0 0 Fumbles 2 1
1 2 Interceptions 0 0
0 0 Touchdowns 0 0
1 2 Sacks 1 2
0 0 Safeties 0 0
Broncos (1-0)
Score Opp.
34-24 KC
Week 2 @JAX
Week 3 SD
Week 4 @TB
Week 5 CAR
Week 6 @OAK
Week 7 @CIN
Week 8 ATL
Week 9 HOU
Week 10 bye
Week 11 @NO
Week 12 OAK
Week 13 @SD
Week 14 MIA
Week 15 @KC
Week 16 @TEN
Week 17 IND
Jaguars (1-0)
Score Opp.
13-10 @BUF
Week 2 DEN
Week 3 @TEN
Week 4 IND
Week 5 @SD
Week 6 KC
Week 7 @IND
Week 8 @HOU
Week 9 bye
Week 10 DET
Week 11 TEN
Week 12 @MIN
Week 13 PIT
Week 14 CHI
Week 15 @GB
Week 16 HOU
Week 17 @OAK

* Fantasy point rankings calculated using standard Huddle fantasy points