Final Game Preview: Jaguars vs Panthers

The final preview of the Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Carolina Panthers matchup

Carolina Panthers vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

Sunday, December 9th, 2007- 1:00 P.M.

Kickoff Temperature: 76 degrees, 10% chance of precipitation

Records: Carolina- 5-7, tied for second place in the NFC South, Jacksonville- 8-4, second place in the AFC South

Line: Jaguars by 10.5

Series notes: Jaguars lead all-time series 2-1, with the last game being a 24-23 Panthers victory on opening day of the 2003 season. The Jaguars won the previous two meetings in 1996 and 1999.

Five most important things for the Jaguars:

    1. Get started early. The visiting Panthers are fighting for their playoff lives, and if the Jaguars can get on the scoreboard early on it can take much of the air out of the Panthers sails.

    2. Expect the unexpected. Carolina is a double-digit underdog, and very few people outside of their locker room believe they can win. Expect all kinds of trick plays including reverses or onside kicks. The Panthers have nothing to lose.

    3. Be aware of Steve Smith. Steve Smith is the Panthers most explosive offensive player and they will find a way to get him the ball. Smith on either of the Jaguars corners is a mismatch in Carolina's favor. The Jaguars need to control Smith and not allow him to make big plays.

    4. Establish dominance on the line of scrimmage. Run the ball, stop the run. That's been the Jaguars key to success this year and the Panthers run defense has been average at best (18th in the NFL).

    5. Get a body or two on Julius Peppers. Peppers is having a down year, but he can still take over a game. The Jaguars need to help out Tony Pashos or Khalif Barnes whenever they are lined up across from the talented defensive end.

What to look for:

    1. A 100+ quarterback rating from David Garrard. Garrard has been sensational lately and I fully expect his play to stay at that very high level.

    2. Reggie Williams for 6. Reggie Williams will make up for his mistake of a week ago with a touchdown reception.

    3. Look for DeAngelo Williams to have a big game. Williams' speed could be a major problem for the Jaguars on Sunday and Williams could have a career day.

    4. Look for another pick from Reggie Nelson. Nelson was nearly drafted by the Panthers, and he will be extra motivated to show them what they are missing. Combine that with a 44-year old quarterback, and it's a recipe for an interception.

    5. Look for a big special teams play by the Jaguars. Maurice Jones-Drew and Dennis Northcutt are two of the most explosive return men in the game, and the Panthers have one of the worst coverage units. Need I say more?

Prediction: The Panthers are fighting for their playoff lives and will not be an easy out. I expect Carolina to keep it close throughout the first half before the Jaguars take control of the game in the third quarter. Final score: Jaguars 27, Panthers 13.

Charlie Bernstein is the Editor-in-Chief of, and a regular syndicated contributor to, Sirius NFL Radio, MySpace Sports and Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers Association, and is a columnist for the New Smyrna Observer. Feel free to contact him -HERE- with questions or comments.

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