Evaluating matchups is always one of the biggest keys to victory for every NFL team. That was the case last week when the Denver Broncos got their season off to a good start with a 27-13 win over the New York Giants.
The two keys from the clash with the Giants were front and center all game. Offensively, the Broncos interior line had issues with Giants stud Leonard Williams but did just enough to help break open a Melvin Gordon 70-yard touchdown run. On defense, Von Miller was a one-man wrecking crew. With two sacks and a handful of impressive plays versus the run, Miller was a big part of the Broncos’ solid defensive performance.
This week, the Broncos face-off with the AFC South bottom-dwelling Jaguars. The Urban Meyer-led team may have a bright future ahead, but his tenure will begin with a rocky season.
The Jaguars enter Sunday’s matchup at 0-1 after getting trounced by the Houston Texans. The team holds hope as they have the real deal in a quarterback in Trevor Lawrence. The Clemson product played well in his debut and provides the Jags offense with a punch both in the air and on the ground.
Additionally, the Jaguars have plenty of talent at the offensive skill positions. Defensively, this team lacks the talent Denver played in Week 1, meaning they will have a tough time handling a surprisingly effective Broncos’ balanced attack.
The Broncos got a much-needed September win but must keep the momentum going and take advantage of a very winnable game. To do so, they must win these key matchups.
Broncos’ Garett Bolles must neutralize Jags’ edge, Josh Allen
Jaguars edge rusher Josh Allen is a phenomenal player.
Adept at playing the run and pass, the former ninth overall selection of the 2019 draft is a force to be reckoned with.
Last week, Allen played well earning a grade of 72.7 from Pro Football Focus (PFF). The former Kentucky Wildcat was one of the few bright spots for a disappointing Jags defensive effort.
Allen is capable of creating game-changing plays at any moment.
I really like what I've seen from Jaguars rookie DE Josh Allen in the first quarter of the season. Right away his twitch & burst jumps out. But his play strength and ability to fight through contact has surprised me.
Week 4 examples pic.twitter.com/eQNCXGMdIY
— Brandon Thorn (@BrandonThornNFL) October 3, 2019
The Broncos witnessed Allen’s talent first hand in an early-season matchup in his rookie year. The Jags won that day and Allen had a lot to do with it. Causing the offense problems, offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur must game plan around Allen’s unique skill set.
Enter 2020 All-Pro Garett Bolles. Though Allen will line up on either side of the formation, it is imperative that when the two square off, Bolles earns the advantage.
Bolles, a freak athlete himself had a below-average game last week for his high standard of play. Earning a PFF grade of 62, Bolles should be eager to perform the way many expected to start the season.
The former first-round selection hasn’t given up a sack in his last 17 games and needs to keep that streak alive. Additionally, the Broncos running game needs more than it showed last week. Bolles is crucial to helping the team move the ball on the ground.
Remember when Garett Bolles blocked two dudes on one play?pic.twitter.com/CHVeKEDq5F
— Pro Football Network (@PFN365) June 26, 2021
When the two go head-to-head, it is unlikely the Broncos will send help. This makes the matchup between Allen and Bolles even more intriguing. If the Broncos left tackle wins this battle, look for the Broncos to put up plenty of points Sunday in Jacksonville.
Simmons looks for a bounce-back game against the face of the Jaguars’ franchise QB
As the first overall selection of the 2021 draft, Lawrence has already shown flashes of what made him such a highly regarded prospect.
Against a poor Texans defense, Lawrence threw for 332 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions.
The young quarterback made some mistakes but showed plenty of play-making ability.
.@Trevorlawrencee has his first NFL touchdown pass!
— Jacksonville Jaguars (@Jaguars) September 12, 2021
The Broncos x-factor this week will be Justin Simmons.
The Broncos leader in the secondary is looking to create more impactful plays this week as PFF did not grade No.31 out highly against the Giants in Week 1. Though he made a few plays last week, there is no doubt the star defender wants to create more havoc for the Jags quarterback this week.
This week, Simmons will have opportunities to get a takeaway or two. Going up against an inferior opponent, the Broncos pass rush will be in Lawrence’s face all game forcing him to make quick decisions. Playing complex Vic Fangio-style coverages the rookie quarterback could struggle with, Simmons will be in prime positions to get his hands on the ball.
Last week, the Texans used zone coverage often to undercut routes of Jaguars’ receivers. This is something Simmons does all too well.
Justin Simmons is a BALL-HAWK 😤pic.twitter.com/YID3P0YMbH
— PFF (@PFF) August 22, 2021
Simmons is a playmaker, and if the ball is in his facility he will come down with it. Look for him to raise his level play and present the Jags offense with a nightmare on the backend.
If Simmons makes a big play early, it may crush Jacksonville’s spirit and help the Broncos start 2-0 for the first time since 2018.