Alright on to the good stuff. The last time these two teams met was October 12, 2008 and it was a loss on our own turf, 24-17. Let's hope our boys can give them a taste of their own medicine come time tomorrow.
In some interesting match-ups for this game, we have the never-ending topic of quarterbacks. This time around we have Kyle Orton vs. David Garrard. Orton has come to prove himself on this team and will most definitely be able to be a strong QB for us in this game, especially now that Ryan Clady has been cleared to play after being out all summer with an injury. Our Oline will be much more stable and I personally will feel more confident with our offense now that we have good 'ol #78 back. On the other side we have a more experienced player in Garrard and he carries a very dangerous weapon, one that the Broncos would like to forget... Maurice Jones-Drew. I've pretty much blocked out the last game we had against these guys from my mind because of MJD.
Which leads me to our most important match-up: MJD and Denver's defense. The dude has legs and uses them to run like a speeding bullet. Its comforting to know we will have Knowshon Moreno back, possibly Bucky (but not very likely) but our defense has got to get control of MJD and maintain that throughout the game. We cannot afford to let him get away. Once is one time too many. I believe its obvious our defense is going to have to play very smart football to catch this guy before he is turned loose. Just to give us all reminders of how good this guy is, here's a look at his stats from last year vs. our RB Moreno.
Maurice Jones-Drew: 312 Car for 1,391 yards... Avg of 4.5 yards a carry with 15 touchdowns
Knowshon Moreno: 247 Car for 947 yards... Avg of 3.8 yards a carry with 7 touchdowns
You all can do the math.
Now, if we take a look at our offense & theirs as a whole we actually have a very close match-up. We have the edge over them on a few things and vice versa. The things our defense should pay close attention to on Jacksonville's offense coming into this game include:
**The obvious 'rush yards per game'. Clearly Jacksonville has that edge over us with 126.8 compared to our 114.8. May not seem like a big deal if you look at the numbers but that's 12 yards more and in a game we should win, 12 yards can add up quickly. 12 rushing yards could mean one more touchdown than us. Again, defense needs to always have MJD covered and don't let him do what he does best... not on us, not tomorrow.
**Next we have a match-up that has become so critical to Denver and one that we struggled with immensely last season - 3rd down conversions. Now, its not saying much but pre-season this year Orton led the NFL in 3rd down passing (139.3 rating; 13 / 16, 127 yds, 2 TDs and 0 INTs). Like I said its not saying much given that is from pre-season but if he can carry all that over to regular season we just might have a fighting chance when it comes to 3rd downs. Just to give you all a heads up on the 3rd down percentage from last year between these two teams - the Jags compiled a 45.1% compared to our 36.3%. I believe we can do much better this year, starting with tomorrow. I'm counting on Orton to not only avoid putting us in close situations too often on 3rd downs but when they do happen I'm counting on him to get us out of those close situations so that we don't have to end a drive in 3 measely plays. I don't want to see any of that 1-2-3 out stuff.
**And last but not least, one of the major parts to winning a game, Time of Possession. From last year, the Jags have literally a hair-thin edge over us when it comes to TOP, with 30:20 vs. our 30:11. When you think about it TOP is how one manages the game. Orton has come across as our "Game Manager" - well, this is one way to make that relevant. Its all about combining the smart plays with TOP to get touchdowns. I'm ready to see how Orton does in this game. All eyes will be on him.
On to the defense match-ups...
As for Jacksonville's defense last season, let's just say they weren't the best defense you could see. They have the edge over us in several areas but that's not necessarily a good thing. As you all may remember, our D started off pretty well and helped us to a 6-0 start to the season. From there after our bye week, it all went downhill. Our defense collapsed, our offense folded... we lost that team that won 6 straight games. Let's hope we got it back and can maintain that form, one game at a time.
Jacksonville may have a threat to us in Maurice Jones-Drew but their defense (according to these stats) was not very impressive. While we gave up more rushing yards per game (our 128.7 vs. their 116.4) last year, it seems as though the Jags will have more to worry about for their D than Denver??
**Jacksonville allowed more passing yards per game than Denver (235.9 vs. 186.3)
**Jacksonville allowed more points per game than Denver (23.8 vs. 20.2)
**Jacksonville allowed more 3rd down conversions (45 vs. 37.2) % and
**Jacksonville allowed more total yards per game than Denver (352.3 vs. 315)
Those stats to me stick out quite a bit. Denver has their work cut out for them but so does Jacksonville. Overall, I'd say this game is pretty evenly matched up, some areas have bigger gaps than others. My biggest concern is controlling & stopping MJD from running all over us. I can only hope our boys have decided NOT to pretend to be floor mats and let him run over them. The game will be a close one, I believe, but there is a possibility of a somewhat high score.
I'm not good at this but I'll do it anyway. lol I say Denver wins it, 28-20. What do you think?
Good luck to our boys... GO BRONCOS!!!!!!
Keep the faith Broncos Country