Two teams looking for better times ahead meet this Sunday in the Mile High City when the Denver Broncos host the Jacksonville Jaguars. Both squads have had problems in recent years at the quarterback position, and both teams have defenses that appear postseason worthy.
The Jaguars advanced deep into the playoffs a couple times in recent seasons, their first AFC Championship Game since 1999 in 2017, but fell short of winning their conference and advancing to the Super Bowl. After a horrible 2018 season, the Jaguars lost confidence in the man they selected third overall in the 2014 NFL Draft, Blake Bortles.
The 2014 NFL Draft was considered to be quarterback rich, but has not lived up to the hype. Two other quarterbacks were picked that year in the first round, and the Cleveland Browns choice of Johnny Manziel was a complete bust, while the Minnesota Vikings choice of Teddy Bridgewater never worked out for them.
Perhaps the best two quarterbacks in the draft were taken in the second round, Derek Carr went to the Oakland Raiders with the 36th pick, and Jimmy Garoppolo was selected by the New England Patriots with the 62nd overall pick. The rest of the selected signal callers have had little or no success, names like Aaron Murray, AJ McCarron, Zack Mettenberger and Tom Savage seem to constitute a number of players not destined to take a team to the Super Bowl.
Once Bortles was out of the way, the Jaguars figured they had the answer with one-time Super Bowl Most Valuable Player Nick Foles, who Jacksonville acquired from the Philadelphia Eagles. The problem with that plan was Foles broke his collarbone against the Kansas City Chiefs in his first quarter wearing a Jaguars Jersey. In comes untested and rookie sixth round draft choice, Gardner Mineshew.
He completed an excellent college career by playing his last collegiate season with the Washington Cougars and gaining the fifth most votes in Heisman Trophy balloting. Still, Mineshew was left in the draft until the Jaguars selected him in the sixth round, and it appears Jacksonville is very happy with that choice.
He completed 22 of 25 passes against the Chiefs, and while his Jaguars were down when he entered the game and further behind when he completed it, Mineshew impressed fans and coaches alike. In second week action, in Houston, Mineshew got the Jaguars within a two-point conversion of an upset win over the Texans. He followed that 13-12 road setback, with a home win a week ago Thursday, 20-7, over the Tennessee Titans.
While nothing after the second round has panned for quarterbacks selected in the 2014 draft, Mineshew appears to have the tools and game presence to be a very good quarterback after being selected in the sixth round last year. It would be only fitting if the Jaguars couldn’t get the quarterback answer with their first round pick five years ago, but score a gem in the sixth round this year.
And while we ponder how good Mineshew might be, know that he is dead this week in Denver.
His breakthrough game of his rookie season came on a Thursday night prime time telecast. He will have basked in the glow of that performance for more than a week when he boards his flight for Denver, where he is going to meet a winless Broncos team perfectly poised for a big effort.
The best point spread propositions are the ones that appear hard to bet on. Taking an 0-3 team as a favorite, in fact as a favorite with a growing line, seems like the short straw going in. But, further examination shows that the Broncos opened as a three point favorite and while the public is betting on them at a nearly 3 to 2 clip, the spread has ticked up a half point.
How can this be?
Because the money the wise guys are playing on this game more than offsets the majority of public bettors backing the Jaguars. When a clear choice is available between the public and wise guys, I almost always side with the wise guys.
Qoxhi Picks: Denver Broncos (-3½) over Jacksonville Jaguars