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The clawless 0–5 Jacksonville Jaguars take on the stampeding 5–0 Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on Sunday in what Vegas oddsmakers think is the most lopsided matchup in recorded history. The winless Jaguars opened as a 28-point — or four touchdown — underdog against the undefeated Broncos. That number is the largest since the NFL-AFL merger of 1970 and ties the unofficial record, which ESPN.com (citing The Gold Sheet) reports to be when the expansion Atlanta Falcons were 28-point underdogs against the Baltimore Colts in 1966.
Although the gambling line is set to entice bettors and is not necessarily a prediction of the outcome, it is an easy indicator of public opinion based on past on-field performance. And the numbers don’t lie. As the Broncos official Twitter feed (@DenverBroncos) pointed out, “The #Broncos’ 51 points in yesterday’s win are as many points as the Jaguars have scored all season.” And it’s true. Denver’s 51 points in its thrilling win at Dallas is the same total Jacksonville has tallied over five games.
The Broncos have looked like Super Bowl favorites en route to wins over the Ravens (49–27), Giants (41–23), Raiders (37–21), Eagles (52–20) and Cowboys (51–48). Meanwhile, the Jags appear to be aiming for the No. 1 overall pick after losses to the Chiefs (28–2), Raiders (19–9), Seahawks (45–17), Colts (37–3) and Rams (34–20).
A tale of the tape is even uglier, as Denver dominates Jacksonville:
Points per game:
46.0 – Denver Broncos
10.2 – Jacksonville Jaguars
Yards per game:
489.9 – Denver Broncos
251.8 – Jacksonville Jaguars
29 – Denver Broncos
5 – Jacksonville Jaguars
+1 – Denver Broncos
–7 – Jacksonville Jaguars
It starts at the top, where Denver boasts Peyton Manning at quarterback and Jacksonville drags out Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne, while a percentage of the fanbase pines for local legend Tim Tebow.
Manning is off to an MVP start, passing for 1,884 yards, 20 TDs and one INT for a 136.4 passer rating. Gabbert, the No. 11 overall pick in the 2011 draft, and Henne have combined to pass for 1,082 yards, three TDs and nine INTs. In a surreal setting, Henne will start in place of the injured Gabbert, who has led only one TD drive this year.
Expectations couldn’t be lower. Just keep it within four TDs, Jags.