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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
October 2, 2005
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
DEN at JAC* PHI at KCC* Sun 4 PM On Bye: Mon 9 PM
HOU at CIN SEA at WAS DAL at OAK PIT, CHI *Updated

Prediction: Denver 13, Jacksonville 23

The Broncos come off a short week after beating the visiting Chiefs and hit the road where they look to get their first win away from Denver. Problem here is that the Jaguars have been playing very well no matter where and with a balanced game, they'll likely make the Broncos wish that they had the extra day to prepare.

These teams played in week two of last year with the Jaguars winning 7-6 in Jacksonville.

Update: Rod Smith has returned to practice and will be playing this week. Since the Broncos should manage a touchdown pass, I have given it to Smith but there's been no real weakness by the Jaguars to suggest it. I am going by Smith as being the most likely receiver to catch it because he has been the preferred target recently by Plummer but the score could go anywhere.

Denver Broncos (2-1)
1 10-34 @MIA 10 Nov 13 @OAK
2 20-17 SDC 11 Nov 20 NYJ
3 30-10 KCC 12 Nov 24 @DAL
4 Oct 2 @JAC 13 Dec 4 @KCC
5 Oct 9 WAS 14 Dec 11 BAL
6 Oct 16 NE 15 Dec 17 @BUF
7 Oct 23 @NYG 16 Dec 24 OAK
8 Oct 30 PHI 17 Dec 31 @SDC
9 Open Bye M THU SAT
DEN Projections Rush Catch Pass
QB Jake Plummer 0 0 220,1
RB Mike Anderson 50 0 0
RB Tatum Bell 20 0 0
TE Stephen Alexander 0 30 0
TE Jeb Putzier 0 20 0
WR Ashley Lelie 0 50 0
WR Rod Smith 0 60,1 0
WR Charlie Adams 0 30 0
PK Jason Elam 2 FG 1 XP -
Pregame Notes: Denver looked terrible in the first game of the year when they lost to the Dolphins but two home games against divisional rivals have put the team back on the title track. It's hard enough to play after a short week but the Broncos lose one other day from needing to travel to Florida once again. Depending on which team shows up, this game could be very different but most likely it'll be the team that faces its toughest defense so far this season.

Quarterback: Jake Plummer only had 152 yards last week with one score but more importantly he had no turnovers for the first time this season and he completed 13 of 18 for an efficient outing thanks to a rushing game and defense that carried the contest. He's only thrown for two scores this year and had been hitting around 250 yards per game until the Chiefs made that entirely unnecessary.

Plummer threw for 250 yards but no scores in the previous meeting against the Jaguars.

Running Backs: Mike Anderson was back to form last Monday when he gained 98 yards on 20 carries with one touchdown. The game was so well in hand that Shanahan spun through the rest of the depth chart of Tatum Bell (5-47), Ron Dayne (3-6) and FB Kyle Johnson (2-5). He even had a pass thrown to Cecil Sapp just to prove he was still on the team. Anderson had twice as much yardage as he had in the first two matchups combined.

Tatum Bell gained nine yards a carry in his limited play that included a 24 yard run and only one carry that failed to gain at least five yards. Anderson had a nice total for the game but his 98 yards included one 44 yard run for a touchdown and nine carries that produced no more than one yard. Anderson will continue as the primary but Bell's success could end up getting him more playing time.

Last year, Tatum Bell only gained 16 yards and Quentin Griffin had 66 yards against the Jaguars. It would be the final game for Griffin.

Wide Receivers: In the game against the Chiefs, only Rod Smith (7-80, 1 TD) mattered since no other wideout accounted for more than two catches or more than 23 yards. Ashley Lelie had a big run to start the game when a double reverse sent him 39 yards downfield. He ended up with two carries - one more than he had catches. Rod Smith got blasted and suffered a concussion in that game. I am not projecting for him this week until better information is made available that he will be playing on Sunday. It may have only been a slight concussion but he appeared to be unconscious for a moment.

Ashley Lelie had 53 yards and Rod Smith ended with 83 yards in the previous meeting against the Jaguars.

Tight Ends: Other than the 67 yards that Jeb Putzier gained in week one, the tight ends have done nothing more than one catch in the last two games. Against the Chiefs, Putzier never had a throw and Stephen Alexander only had one catch for nine yards. As with most teams, it appears the Broncos are relying on the tight ends in games when they trail against better defenses. With Rod Smith potentially out this week and the tough Jaguars waiting for Denver to show up, there is a good chance that Plummer has to rely on this position again but there is also no confidence that Putzier will get involved again. Stephen Alexander was brought on for his receiving skills and only had a pass last week. Likely both will be involved.

The tight ends had 47 yards last year in Jacksonville, with Dwayne Carswell's 35 yards as best for the position in that game.

Match Against the Defense: The Broncos will try to establish the run but the Jaguars have already faced a running list of who's who for NFL running backs. Alexander (14-73), James (27-128) and Martin (18-67) have all gone against them so far this year and on the road, Anderson is not equal to that trio. Look for a return of Anderson to very moderate numbers here and even then the chance that Bell takes a few carries to reduce it even more.

The Jaguars allowed a decent game to Hasselbeck in week one (246, 2 TDs) but then held both Manning (122) and Pennington (76) to relatively nothing. In the game that Hasselbeck had some numbers, he also had three interceptions. Figure that the Broncos will need to throw with their running game slowed and Plummer will post only moderate passing numbers - less if Rod Smith cannot play. There have been no wideouts with any real success so far against Jacksonville and no one has gained more than 79 yards receiving. Look for a moderate game by all the Broncos tired from a short week, on the road against a good defense.

Jacksonville Jaguars (2-1)
1 26-14 SEA 10 Nov 13 BAL
2 3-10 @IND 11 Nov 20 @TEN
3 26-20 @NYJ 12 Nov 27 @ARI
4 Oct 2 DEN 13 Dec 4 @CLE
5 Oct 9 CIN 14 Dec 11 IND
6 Oct 16 @PIT 15 Dec 18 SFO
7 Open Bye 16 Dec 24 @HOU
8 Oct 30 @STL 17 Jan 1 TEN
9 Nov 6 HOU . . SAT
JAX vs DEN Rush Catch Pass
QB Byron Leftwich 10 0 250,2
RB Fred Taylor 60 10 0
TE Brian Jones 0 30 0
WR Jimmy Smith 0 80.1 0
WR Reggie Williams 0 60,1 0
WR Ernest Wilford 0 30 0
WR Matt Jones 0 30 0
PK Josh Scobee 3 FG 2 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Jaguars come off a nice road win against the Jets in a game that ended Pennington's season. The defense has been playing well and Fred Taylor is running hard, giving Byron Leftwich time to throw downfield when he wants and not when he has to. The Jaguars are putting a very balanced attack together and combined with their defense this team is looking like a contender this season. . It took over time in order for the Jaguars to win, but at 2-1 their only blemish so far was a defensive battle in Indianapolis that kept them from scoring.

Quarterback: Byron Leftwich was able to play last week despite being bent like a pretzel in the previous game and he ended with 177 yards and two scores against the Jets - his second touchdown being the game winner in overtime to Jimmy Smith. Leftwich had his first and only interception last week but has been efficient while still learning the new offensive scheme.

Byron Leftwich only threw for 120 yards and one score in the last meeting against the Broncos.

Running Backs: Fred Taylor rushed for 98 yards and a score last week but it took 37 carries to accomplish - and yes, he is fully recovered from his knee surgery during the offseason. Taylor has gained at least 76 yards on the ground in each of his three games this year and is being spelled only occasionally.

Fred Taylor only managed to rush for 54 yards in the meeting last year against Denver.

Wide Receivers: Jimmy Smith remains the "go to" guy for Leftwich but other than his 130 yard game in week one, he has not done much with all the attention by the secondary. He had only one catch last week until he had the game winning grab in overtime. Reggie Williams gets four or five receptions every week but he still has not exceeded 54 yards in a game this year. So far the offense has primarily relied on Fred Taylor and even in the loss to the Colts, the game was always close. This passing offense has not yet had a game that requires heavy passing and the production of the wideouts has been predictably moderate at best other than Smith's one big game.

Jimmy Smith was held to only three catches for 69 yards against the Broncos in 2004 while Ernest Wilford had the winning touchdown catch on the final play of the game.

Tight Ends: Brian Jones had the only catches by a tight end last week and that only meant two receptions for eight yards. Other than his one 41 yard catch in week two, there is almost no production from this position.

The tight ends had no catches in the meeting last year against Denver.

Match Against the Defense: The Denver defense has been great against the run this year and even though Tomlinson had two scores against them, he still had only 52 yards and Priest Holmes managed only 62. This is not a week that Fred Taylor is likely to turn in 100+ yards unless the game situation allows him another 37 carries. The Denver front line has just been too good.

That leaves Leftwich needing to throw in order to win the game (unless Plummer manages to literally throw it away). CB Champ Bailey had to leave the Kansas City game with a hamstring injury to add to his already dislocated left shoulder. That should allow Reggie Williams a much better game this week matched against a nickel corner pressed into full-time duty but Jimmy Smith will always be the first look. Of the two scores given up to wideouts this year, both went to the split end manned by Jimmy Smith anyway.