3 keys to a Jaguars victory vs. Broncos

The Jacksonville Jaguars need a win in the worst way.

The team is far too talented and has played way too well to have a 2-5 record near the halfway point of the season. While the Jaguars aren’t that far behind the Tennessee Titans in the AFC South, the chase for the divisional title is already slipping away.

Dropping a fifth consecutive game would bury the Jaguars in an even deeper hole.

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Fortunately for Jacksonville, its Week 8 opponent is floundering too. The Denver Broncos have a matching four-game losing streak and are dead-last in points scored.

Here are three things the Jaguars need to do Sunday to break their streak and improve to 3-5:

Take away quick passes

Short passes to the middle of the field were a massive problem in a Week 6 loss to the Indianapolis Colts and it crept up again in Week 7 against the New York Giants.

It could easily be a point of emphasis for the Broncos, a team that has attacked the middle of the field with success, at times this season.

While the run defense has been up and down for the Jaguars, the team has done well to defend deep passing. If Jacksonville can just stop the shallow crosses and slants, it’d go a long way toward keeping the Broncos from pointing up many points.

Fortunately for the Jaguars, Russell Wilson is just 5’11. Getting in the throwing lanes will need to be a point of emphasis.

Get a takeaway, already

The Jaguars started the season with nine takeaways (seven interceptions and two fumble recoveries) in the first 13 quarters of the season. In the 15 quarters since then, nada.

Aside from the obvious advantage that comes with stopping an opposing offense in its tracks, those big plays that set up the Jaguars offense with a short field are pretty crucial. Especially when Jacksonville doesn’t really have a deep passing game that can strike quickly.

With the exception of a few long runs, the Jaguars offense has primarily needed lengthy drives down the field with several first downs to get to the end zone. The sudden absence of turnovers has made it much more difficult for those drives to happen.

At some point the takeaway drought has to end, and it’d be nice if it came against a Denver offense that has turned the ball over in six of its seven games.

Find some offensive balance

When the Jaguars traded away James Robinson, it became clear that the team doesn’t plan on ever being one that grinds away at an opponent with a heavy dose of running between the tackles. Even against the Giants, who have the NFL’s worst run defense, the Jaguars still passed on more than two-thirds of their plays.

So even though the Jaguars passing at least 60 percent of the time is probably inevitable, Jacksonville should tread lightly against the Broncos secondary.

Led by cornerback Patrick Surtain II, the Denver secondary has allowed only three passing touchdowns and ranks second in passing yards allowed. Teams have had much more success against a Broncos run defense that ranks 22nd in rushing yards allowed per carry.

Again, Travis Etienne probably isn’t going to get 30 carries on Sunday. But the Jaguars will need to find a better balance against a Broncos defense that can take advantage of the Jaguars’ pass-heavy approach.

Story originally appeared on Jaguars Wire