Jacksonville Jaguars (1-2) at Denver Broncos (0-3)
Minshew Mania has taken over Jacksonville, with backup quarterback and rookie sixth round pick Gardner Minshew leading the Jaguars to their first win of the season last week on Thursday Night Football. Minshew took over for an injured Nick Foles in the first half of their first game of the season against the Chiefs and has completed 73.9% of his 88 pass attempts since, 2nd in the NFL and a record for highest completion percentage by a rookie quarterback in his first 3 games. However, if we look further down that list of quarterbacks who have gotten out to a hot start, we see that Minshew’s hot start doesn’t necessarily predict long-term future success.
While the top-10 contains quarterbacks like Carson Wentz (7th) and Dak Prescott (4th), it also includes Colt McCoy (2nd), Cody Kessler (5th), Nick Mullens (6th), and Chris Weinke (9th). It’s important to remember that Minshew has played roughly 11 quarters and, as much of a crapshoot as the draft can be, the NFL rarely lets starting caliber quarterbacks fall out of the first 3 rounds. Even the Jaguars weren’t sure if Minshew could be the backup as recently as mid-August, after a whole off-season of seeing him. Minshew has so far proven many people wrong, including his own team, but that may not necessarily continue.
I think the Jaguars are a little bit overrated right now because of Minshew Mania. As well as Minshew has played, the Jaguars still rank just 23rd in first down rate, due to a lack of talent around the quarterback, so if Minshew starts to struggle this offense will have a very difficult time moving the ball. The Broncos aren’t a good team, but I have them a few spots higher in my roster rankings than the Jaguars, who are expected to be without top cornerback Jalen Ramsey, and yet this line, which favors the Broncos by 3 points at home, suggests these two teams are about even. We are getting a little bit of line value with the Broncos, who are well positioned to get their first win of the season, but I wouldn’t recommend betting them because they have some injury concerns of their own (Kareem Jackson, Ja’Wuan James, Bryce Callahan) and have a tougher game on deck against the Chargers.
Denver Broncos 20 Jacksonville Jaguars 16
Pick against the spread: Denver -3