The NFL heads to back Wembley Stadium on Sunday for the first time since 2019 when the Jacksonville Jaguars take on the Denver Broncos. It's the yearly trip for the Jags, who have actually won four of their last six overseas. Different story for the Broncos, who last played in Wembley on Halloween 2010 when they lost to the 49ers 24-16.
Last year, Denver beat these Jags down in Jacksonville 23-13 as Teddy Bridgewater threw for 328 yards and two touchdowns in the victory. Trevor Lawrence had a miserable game with just 14 completions and two interceptions in the loss. But with a new quarterback in town, the Broncos have an entirely new look.
The season started out with so much promise as the Broncos (2-5) began 2-1, but things are looking bleak for Denver after four straight losses. Last week, Brett Rypien took over for an injured Russell Wilson and had a mediocre effort in a 16-9 loss at home to the Jets. Rypien went 24-of-46 for 225 yards with one interception and no touchdowns. The problem was a lack of a ground game, as six different Broncos combined to average just 3.8 yards per carry. It was another solid defensive effort, although Breece Hall's 62-yard touchdown ended up being the difference.
The Jaguars (2-5) also are in the midst of a four-game losing streak after a 2-1 start. Last time out, the Jags were one yard short of knocking off the Giants, who won the game 23-17. It was another breakthrough effort by Travis Etienne Jr., who accounted for almost 120 yards of total offense on 15 touches. The backfield will definitely be his after the Jags dealt James Robinson to the Jets on Monday. Jacksonville's defense was awful against the run, allowing New York to average 6.1 yards per carry, with 107 of those yards coming from the legs of quarterback Daniel Jones.
NFL International Series: Denver (2-5) vs. Jacksonville (2-5)
Three Things to Watch
The two teams are in the same spot, in the midst of four-game losing skids after 2-1 starts. There are some other things to consider, though, when looking at this matchup. Jacksonville has made this trip every season since 2013 (save for 2020), so the Jaguars know how this works, while most of the Broncos are making their first trip. I've found that teams new to this experience struggle a little bit with the schedule and the time, so we'll see if the de facto home team can take advantage early. Denver has its bye week after this game, so maybe there's a little worry that the team has one eye on the time off. The Jags won't be looking ahead, but they host the Raiders next week.
2. Does Denver's offense travel?
Jacksonville's defense is flush with young talent, but the Jags are struggling to put it together as a unit. They are 13th against the run and 20th against the pass, so there should be some opportunities for whoever is under center for Denver. After missing last week's game, Russell Wilson seems intent on playing, and hasn't been shy of telling anyone this. But he's been highly underwhelming, with just five touchdown passes and three interceptions while being sacked 20 times. He hasn't been much of a factor as a running threat either, with just 96 yards on 21 carries. Wilson has appealing weapons to throw to in wide receivers Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy, but it's been rookie tight end Greg Dulcich who has been solid the past two weeks with eight receptions for 95 yards and a touchdown. Can Wilson take advantage of a porous defense or will his struggles continue?
3. Will Denver's defense continue its domination?
The Broncos are one of the toughest teams to throw on at just 173.1 passing yards allowed per game, second in the NFL. Their "weakness" is against the run, where they are 15th at 112.9 yards per game. Ten different players have gotten into the sack column, so that's a worry for Jacksonville, who has actually protected Trevor Lawrence well (10 sacks allowed). It's now Trevor Etienne Jr.'s backfield, and he's taken advantage of it so far. We'll see if Christian Kirk (32 rec., 458 yds.) or Zay Jones (31, 281) can get open against this stingy secondary that will probably stick lockdown cornerback Pat Surtain II on Kirk.
I keep going back to it, but familiarity will be key for the Jags, who have this schedule down pat. I also can't help but wonder how many Denver players extended their stay so they could be there with their families during the bye week. This is going to be a very ugly game because nothing the Broncos do is beautiful. I think Londoners wonder what the fuss over American football is all about after watching this field goal fest on Sunday.
Prediction: Jaguars 19, Broncos 17
— Written by Matt Josephs, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @MidMajorMatt.
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