Jacksonville Jaguars (2-6) vs. Baltimore Ravens (2-6)
Sunday, November 15th
Kickoff Temperature: 58 degrees, 0% chance of precipitation
Line: Ravens by 4.5
The Jaguars may not deserve to be in playoff contention, but in the AFC South, nearly anything goes. Baltimore has dealt with crippling injuries that has caused their season to go in the toilet, but they've played close games every week. Find out what the Jaguars need to do to win their first road game in almost two years.
Keys to a Jaguars victory:
1. Stop the run. The Jaguars did a great job of stopping the run last week against the Jets, and it was nearly enough to beat a pretty good team on the road. Baltimore's No. 1 receiver would be a No. 4 on most teams, so they will depend heavily on the running game.
2. Win the turnover battle, or at least don't lose it. Blake Bortles has been better than anyone could've hoped, but turnovers continue to plague him. Although most of the turnovers weren't his fault last week, they keep occurring and the team won't win, especially on the road, until he gets them under control. It would be nice if the defense forced some miscues as well.
3. Protect the franchise. Blake Bortles is clearly the most valuable part of this franchise and he must be protected better. The Jets schemed up blitzes that confused the Jaguars line time and time again, and T.J. Yeldon had his worst game as a pro. The line must do a better job on Sunday.
4. Don't lose special teams. It would be easy to say "win special teams," but the Jaguars have one of the worst special teams units in the NFL when it comes to punter, kicker, return game and coverage. If the Jaguars can just play special teams to a draw, they will be okay.
5. Have the better tight ends. On paper, Julius Thomas and Marcedes Lewis should be considerably better than Crockett Gilmore and Maxx Williams. On the field they haven't been. Thomas is being paid a lot of money to be a lot better than he is. He needs to run better routes (the correct routes), block like he cares and actually catch the forward pass. If the Jaguars tight ends outplay the Ravens tight ends, they'll likely win the game.
What to look for:
1. Look for a lower scoring game. The Jaguars and Ravens are two of the worst defenses in the NFL in terms of points allowed. Still, with the lack of weapons that Baltimore has and the wide receiver-cornerback matchups, this one may be more of a defensive struggle than many believe.
2. Look for the Jaguars to force a turnover. It sounds easy, but it doesn't happen every game. The Jags secondary should grab a pick from Joe Flacco and possibly even force a Justin Forsett fumble.
3. Look for a Crockett Gilmore TD. Gilmore has been a fantasy and reality surprise for the Ravens and he should have a matchup advantage against the Jaguars linebackers and safeties.
4. Look for under 140 rushing yards combined. Both teams would like to establish the run, but both defenses know how important it is to shut that down. The Jaguars made a point to stop tough-running Chris Ivory last week and they'll take the initiative to stop Forsett.
5. Look for the Jaguars to lose another close one. Jacksonville has better talent than Baltimore (who would've thought that before the season?), but Baltimore has the better coaching staff and they're playing at home. The season is on the line and the Jags might get tight late in the game.