The 2017-2018 Jacksonville Jaguars are very, very similar to a recent Super Bowl Winner

Remember the 2015-16 Denver Broncos?

They had all-pro Von Miller, arguably the best defensive player in the NFL. Chris Harris was the foundation of a strong secondary that included Aqib Talib and T.J Ward. They had one of the best wide receiver duos in the NFL in Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders.

A running back duo that could get the job done; CJ Anderson & Ronnie Hillman. Not to mention a Hall of Famer Peyton Manning, but he was at the end of his career and most people agree he dragged down the Broncos offense. Sort of like the guy under center in Jacksonville; Blake Bortles.  

The former third overall pick has struggled in the NFL, and this season is very similar to Peyton Manning’s last season in Denver. But I’ll come back to that later.

Elsewhere on offense, Jacksonville also has a really good wideout duo. Their stats don’t do them much justice, but that’s mainly because of who’s throwing them the ball. Both Allen Hurns and Marqise Lee are guys that any offense in the NFL could depend on. Where Jacksonville separates from the ’15 Broncos is on the ground. Leonard Fournette, a rookie of the year candidate and the fourth overall pick in last years draft, ran for over 100 yards and was the backbone of the Jaguars offense this past season.

Jacksonville, like the ’15-16 Broncos, have two first team all pros on defense with a great supporting cast. Jalen Ramsey, the Jags top corner, was named to the first team all pro team in his rookie campaign. A.J Bouye, Barry Church and Tashaun Gipson round out Jacksonville’s secondary. Jacksonville second all pro is defensive end Calias Campbell and the Jags also have pro-bowl selectee Malik Jackson at defensive tackle and breakout rookie defensive tackle Yannick Ngakou.

The rosters of these teams are so similar, but there’s so much more.

I’ve compiled a chart to show exactly what I mean.

Category

15-16 Broncos

17-18 Jaguars

Defensive Efficiency

Rank #1

Rank #1

Offensive Efficiency

Rank #28

Rank #16

Team Efficiency

Rank #8

Rank #8

3rd Down Efficiency %

35.3%

37.3%

Yards gained per attempt

7.0 yards

7.1

Net yards per attempt

5.14

6.52

Tackles

654

633

Rushing + Receiving Touchdowns

32

39

Red Zone Efficiency

47.7%

64%

League Red Zone Efficiency Ranking

28

2

Pretty much every statistic I’ve listed, if the two teams aren’t tied, Jacksonville has the edge on Denver.

Back to the quarterback comparison. Firstly, Peyton Manning is a quarterback that Blake Bortles will never be. But Manning’s last season in Denver, he had clearly taken several steps back.

Category

Bortles

Manning

Games Started

16

9

Yards

3687

2249 (on pace for 3,998 if he had started 16 games)

Touchdowns

21

9 (on pace for 16 if he had started 16 games)

Interceptions

13

17 (on pace for 30 if he had started 16 games)

Completion %

60.2%

59.8%

Yards gained per attempt

7.0 yards

6.8 yards

% of passes that were TD’s

4.0%

2.7%

Although Peyton will always be better than Blake, Bortles has the edge on Manning in the seasons compared. Almost in every statistic Bortles in 2017 and 2018 was, and is, better than Manning in 2015-16.

Who’s Left

The final 3 teams in the playoffs alongside the Jaguars are very similar in total team efficiencies to the final three teams that were alongside Denver when they won the Super Bowl in 2015.

2017 Jags: Rank 8. Up against: ranks 4 (MIN), 5(PHI), and 6 (NE).

2015 Broncs: Rank 8. Up against: 3 (ARI), 4 (CAR), and 6 (NE).

And also, Denver beat New England in the AFC Championship game to get to the Super Bowl. Jacksonville also faces the same New England Patriots in their final barrier before making it to Super Bowl 52.