The old NFL adage stating that any team can win on any given Sunday, seems like a bit of a stretch this week as the high-flying Denver Broncos take on the winless Jacksonville Jaguars. But this lopsided match-up provides more than just an easy win for the Broncos. It also affords an opportunity for the team to rest important players before a big game in Indy the following week, as well as award backups some meaningful experience.
Though the Broncos won last week versus the Dallas Cowboys, the victory came at a cost. Cornerback Chris Harris received a concussion, linebacker Wesley Woodyard injured his neck, and defensive end Robert Ayres hurt his shoulder. Though these injuries are only temporary setbacks, if they had been more serious the Broncos would be in serious trouble.
Moreover, the team has already had to deal with major losses due to injury. All-pro left tackle Ryan Clady is out of the season as is center Dan Koppen, and Champ Bailey has missed the first five weeks. With limited depth at a number of key positions the Broncos must understand the paramount importance of keeping people healthy and should treat this game like a preseason contest where team’s key players only play the first half.
While the Jaguars have a number of quality players on both offense and defense, their quarterback issues drastically restrict an offense that will likely have to abandon the run in order to keep up with Peyton Manning and the Broncos’ offense, and their defense has allowed 32.6 points per game, the second worst in the league. There is truly no reason the Broncos starters need to play the entire game and put their bodies on the line.
Offensively, Peyton Manning is 36 years old, the line if banged-up, both Wes Welker and Eric Decker have been hampered by small injuries, and Knowshon Moreno as well as Julius Thomas have a history of being hurt.
Defensively, Bailey has been hurt the entire season up to this point, both Derek Wolfe and Wesley Woodyard have suffered neck injuries, and defensive linemen Kevin Vickerson has never played a full 16-game season.
Not only will resting key players allow them to get healthy and avoid further injuries, but it will also allow the younger players like Kayvon Webster, Montee Ball, Virgil Green, and Brock Osweiler to gain some meaningful NFL experience.
Though the game this weekend should not be as exciting as Week 5 in Dallas, it will likely give Broncos’ fans an opportunity to see what some of the young and more inexperienced players can do. But then again, any given Sunday!
Written by John Spina. Follow him on Facebook or on Twitter @jsspina24