The undefeated Denver Broncos and their top ranked offense will be the biggest favorites in NFL history on Sunday afternoon against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
Coming off an ugly, pressured packed win a week ago, Denver began the week as 28 point favorites over the winless Jaguars, a team that’s put up 51 combined points in their first five games. The Broncos needed 51 points last week alone to put away Dallas.
Denver eclipsed the 1976 Pittsburgh Steelers, who were 27 point favorites against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The next best was the 2007 New England Patriots, who were favored by 25 points over the Philadelphia Eagles.
Against Dallas, Peyton Manning continued his record-breaking pace with 414 passing yards, four touchdowns, and rushing for another, and running back Knowshon Moreno equaled his season-high of 93 yards and a touchdown.
The Cowboys were also the first team to pick Manning off this season, and Denver needed a late interception of its own on Dallas’s final drive to allow kicker Matt Prater to knock in a 28-yarder as time expired.
Third-year tight end Julius Thomas recorded a season and career-high nine receptions for 122 yards and two scores, and receiver Eric Decker had five catches for 87 yards and his second touchdown of the season.
But the win exposed the Broncos secondary, with Dallas compiling 470 passing yards and five touchdowns. Denver is now dead last in the NFL in pass defense, and first in containing the rush, but that could have more to do with its offense averaging 46.0 points a game.
The secondary will get a veteran infusion with Champ Bailey expected to make his return. Currently third amongst active players with 52 career interceptions, Bailey is listed as probable with a sprained foot. However, Denver could be without linebacker Wesley Woodyard, who injured his neck against Dallas and is listed as doubtful after not practicing all week.
Those could be good signs for the Jaguars. Quarterbacks Blaine Gabbert and Chade Henne together have thrown three touchdowns to nine interceptions and have been sacked 20 times. Gabbert is expected to sit on Sunday with a hamstring injury, as reported by the Florida Times Union.
Two of those touchdowns came in last week’s 34-20 loss to St. Louis, as the Jaguars welcomed back second-year receiver Justin Blackmon. Sitting the first four games after violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy, Blackmon totaled five catches for 136 yards and a score.
Top receiver Cecil Shorts also had five receptions for 74 yards and his first touchdown of the season. Shorts reportedly sat out Thursday’s practice, as he works through a groin injury. He’s listed as probable.
Tight end Marcedes Lewis is also out with a calf injury, and receiver Stephen Burton and defensive end Jeremy Mincey are out with concussions.
The Rams game also marked running back Maurice Jones-Drew’s season-high 70 rushing yards on 17. In the previous four games, the Pro Bowler hadn’t gained more than 45 yards or averaged more than 3.0 yards per carry.
Jacksonville head coach Gus Bradley praised his team and how they’ve handled all the point spread talk and jokes.
“They’re learning that discipline now,” Bradley said to the Times Union. “They’re learning that those outside things that are happening can’t affect how we practice, so you feel a sense of professionalism from them and that’s awesome.”
Coverage of the game starts at 4:05 p.m. ET and will be broadcast by CBS, or watch a live online stream by purchasing NFL Game Access here.
Betting Odds: Denver favored by 27 points
Over/Under: 54 points
Prediction: Denver 42, Jacksonville 24