Broncos scouting report: How Denver matches up against Jets and predictions

Jets (0-2) at Broncos (2-0)

When: 2:05 p.m., Sunday.

Where: Empower Field at Mile High.

Radio/TV: 850 AM, 94.1 FM/KCNC-4.

Weather: Sunny with a high of 88 degrees.

Broncos-Jets series: Broncos are 20-16-1 in 37 games dating back to 1960; Denver won 37-28 in last meeting behind Brett Rypien in Week 4 last year.


Key matchup

OLB Von Miller vs. RT Morgan Moses

With Bradley Chubb on injured reserve, the Broncos need Von Miller to continue to re-assert his Pro Bowl form and apply pressure to rookie quarterback Zach Wilson.

Miller’s matchup will be mainly against veteran right tackle Morgan Moses, who was thrust into a starting role because of a knee injury to left tackle Mekhi Becton. That injury in Week 1 forced New York to move George Fant to left tackle and bring Moses off the bench. Moses signed with the Jets in the offseason after making 96 consecutive starts for Washington from 2015-20.

With all the shuffling along New York’s front, that presents an opportunity for Miller (three sacks and five tackles in 2021) to have another productive game. But the outside linebacker isn’t writing off the Jets’ front or the ability of Wilson to evade pressure and extend plays.

“You can’t really count out any of these rookies,” Miller said of first-year quarterbacks. “They’re all talented, and they just get more and more talented and more and more fearless every single year. Zach Wilson, he’s played a lot of great football (in college). He went to BYU, and I’ve been a fan of his and his playing style just like (Jaguars QB) Trevor Lawrence. This is his team, and I expect him to be fearless and push the ball down the field and scramble and do all the things that rookies do best.”

Opposite of Miller, Malik Reed (10 career sacks) will also have his chances to get to Wilson, as will rookies Jonathon Cooper and Andre Mintze, both of whom will see some rotational snaps.


Who has the edge?

Quarterback

Teddy Bridgewater has been a man on fire so far, completing 54 of 70 passes (77.1%) with four touchdowns and no interceptions. Meanwhile, Zach Wilson is coming off a nightmarish four-interception game against the Patriots and hasn’t settled in yet. Edge: Broncos

Running back

Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams have been sharing carries through the first two games, and either back is capable of popping off for 100-plus yards. New York features Williams’ college teammate, Michael Carter, plus Ty Johnson and Tevin Coleman. Edge: Broncos

Receiver/tight end

Courtland Sutton is coming off a career game against the Jaguars (nine catches for 159 yards), and the tight ends are playing well. Wilson’s favorite target has been Braxton Berrios, and the Jets also feature Corey Davis and speedster Denzel Mims. Edge: Broncos

Offensive line

Broncos right guard Graham Glasgow is expected to return after missing Week 2 with a heart issue, which should boost the team’s protection and run blocking. Veteran George Fant anchors New York’s left side, and Jets center Connor McGovern is an ex-Bronco. Edge: Broncos

Defensive line

Denver’s starting trio of Shelby Harris, Mike Purcell and Dre’Mont Jones has been heathy and productive through two weeks and the Broncos have been more than stout against the run. Up front for New York, Quinnen Williams has Pro Bowl potential. Edge: Even

Linebacker

With Bradley Chubb (ankle) and Josey Jewell (pectoral) on injured reserve, Malik Reed gets the nod for Chubb at outside linebacker opposite Von Miller and Justin Strnad makes his first NFL start at inside. C.J. Mosley is the Jets’ leading linebacker. Edge: Broncos

Secondary

Denver’s still missing Ronald Darby (on injured reserve with a hamstring injury), but rookie Pat Surtain II is coming off a strong showing in his first NFL start, which featured a pick. New York’s cornerbacks are an extremely young unit and liable to be exposed. Edge: Broncos

Special teams

The Broncos are struggling in kickoff coverage, highlighted by the 102-yard TD return from Jacksonville’s Jamal Agnew last week. The other units have been mostly solid, and Brandon McManus is 5-for-5 on field goals. New York’s kicker is rookie Matt Ammendola. Edge: Broncos


Tale of the tape

CategoryBroncosJets
Total offense409 (7th)294 (26th)
Rush offense130.5 (5th)98.5 (22nd)
Pass offense278.5 (11th)195.5 (29th)
Points per game25 (T-13th)10 (31st)
Total defense251.5 (3rd)320.5 (9th)
Run defense67.5 (4th)106 (12th)
Pass defense184 (5th)214.5 (10th)
Points allowed13 (T-5th)22 (T-10th)

* Through Week 2


By the numbers

5 — The number of years it’s been since the Broncos started 3-0. In Gary Kubiak’s second and final season, Denver finished 9-7 and missed the playoffs.

4 — Teddy Bridgewater is only the fourth QB in NFL history to open a season with two TDs, no interceptions and a 75.0% completion percentage (minimum 12 attempts) in each of his first two games.

100% — Denver’s conversion rate on fourth down this year in five attempts. That’s already one more fourth-down conversion than the Broncos had all of last year, and 2021 is Denver’s first time with multiple fourth-down conversions in back-to-back games since 2002.

43.6% — The percentage of times the Broncos defense has allowed a touchdown in the red zone since Fangio took over in 2019, which ranks first in the league. Opponents have found the end zone in 48 of 110 trips.

10 — The amount of sacks allowed by the Jets’ offensive line this year, which ranks last.


Betting/fantasy

Line: Broncos -10.5

This is a huge spread for a relatively unproven team. Yes the Jets aren’t very good, but the Broncos have beaten two subpar opponents and haven’t been this big of a favorite since 2017, when Denver lost 23-10 to the Giants at home despite New York being a 13.-5-point underdog. That’s not to say history will repeat itself Sunday, but laying the points feels like a gamble here.

Prop bet: Zach Wilson over/under 1.5 interceptions (minus-205)

Bet the over. The Broncos secondary is hungry after two interceptions of Jaguars QB Trevor Lawrence last week, and Wilson has looked lost reading coverages over the course of his five interceptions this season. Plus, the Broncos are likely to take an early lead and never look back, meaning Wilson is going to have to try and air it out to get the Jets back into the game.

Fantasy play: RB Javonte Williams

Gordon has more rushing yards so far (132 to 109), but the elusiveness Williams showed in Week 2 is setting the stage for a breakout game. That’s especially true if the Broncos continue to dominate time of possession as they have so far this season. This is the week that Williams posts his first 100-yard game, which will be cemented by several long runs against a tired Jets defense in the second half.


Post predictions

Mark Kiszla, columnist: Broncos 24, Jets 10

Teddy B and the Gang hit every note and go 3-0 during the soundcheck. The real concert on the big stage starts next week.

Kyle Newman, beat writer: Broncos 27, Jets 10

Zach Wilson throws three interceptions, with Pat Surtain II getting a pick for a second straight week. And the Broncos offense’ settles in immediately with an opening-drive TD, then rides Javontae Williams and Melvin Gordon to victory.

Ryan O’Halloran, beat writer: Broncos 21, Jets 13

I wouldn’t touch the double-digit point-spread for the Broncos even at what should be a raucous Mile High. They grind out a win, led by running back Javonte Williams’ 112 yards rushing and three takeaways.

Sean Keeler, columnist: Broncos 27, Jets 17

Uncle Vic is 4-2 with the Broncos when facing rookie quarterbacks, while his defenses allowed 19.6 points per game to NFL tenderfoots. Not quite Bill Belichick-level Jedi mastery, but good enough. Especially when a packed, raucous house has your back.

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