Corny Austin Powers jokes aside, the Jaguars have a real chance to regain the magic that led them to the AFC Championship this Sunday in London when they take on the defending Super Bowl Champion Eagles.
I'm not suggesting that the Jaguars will win this game or even saying that I'm going to pick them to win this game (I might). No, I'm simply stating the fact that the Jaguars will have the opportunity, against a similarly struggling Eagles squad, to get back on the right track.
There are several reasons that lead me to believe the Jaguars could actually win this game. There's also a bevy reasons the Jaguars could lose (we'll get to those in a later article).
Here's four reasons that the Jaguars have a shot to win their annual "home game" in London.
1. The Jaguars have a lot of positive experience across the pond.
That's right, the Jaguars play in London every year. While a team can never truly get used to traveling for 10ish hours via plane and adjusting to a huge time difference, the Jaguars should have the upper hand every year when they play in London. This will be Doug Marrone's fourth trip to play at Wembley Stadium as a member of the Jaguars coaching staff (his second as the Jaguars head coach) and the Jaguars have won each of the previous three matchups. Last season they dominated the Ravens; in 2016 the bested the Colts by three; and in 2015 they narrowly beat the Bills in a shoot out. Nearly all of the Jaguars starters have played in this game at least once and should be ready go in a contest that could spark a turnaround or send the Jaguars season spiraling out of control.
2. The Eagles secondary is reeling, while their run defense surrenders a high yards per carry average.
The Jaguars offense is down in the dumps, and while the Eagles defense will certainly present some problems for the Blake Bortles led Jaguars, it's possible that the Jaguars could take advantage of some of the Eagles deficiencies on the defensive side of the ball. If the Jaguars look to attack the Eagles outside cornerbacks (they should), they could find success early on.
Philly's starting corners, Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby, are getting torched on the outside by opposing QBs and receivers. If Keelan Cole, Donte Moncrief, and Dede Westbrook bring their A-game they could be in for some big time receiving totals against an Eagles defense that ranks at or near the bottom of the league against outside receivers in yards per game, catch rate, yards after catch, catches of 10+ yards, and catches of 20+ yards. The Eagles are also giving up an unusually high amount of big plays over the middle. In the fourth quarter of last week's meltdown to the Panthers the Eagles surrendered over 200 passing yards. No, that is not a typo.
As for the Jaguars running game, with the addition of Carlos Hyde the Jaguars now - once again - have a formidable backfield. Hyde can be the bruiser, while TJ Yeldon can be the do it all third down type back. The Eagles are surrendering 4.5 yards per carry on the year and the Jaguars, if they can find a way to get some push, should be able to take advantage of that weakness.
3. The Eagles are struggling to take the ball away.
The Eagles, like the Jaguars, are having a tough time when it comes to forcing turnovers. They've gotten six takeaways this season (just one more than the Jaguars) and have a turnover differential of -4. In recent weeks the Jaguars have been giving the ball away at an outrageous clip, but that could change against the Eagles in week eight. Of course, with Blake Bortles on the field that doesn't seem all that likely, but we've seen him flip the switch in the past.
4. Philadelphia's offense is struggling to score points.
The Eagles rank in the bottom half of the league in nearly all offensive categories. Their 22nd in points per game with 22. Their 7.1 yards per pass attempt ranks them 20th. Averaging just 4 yards per carry, the Eagles are 21st in that category. And they've been giving up an astounding number of sacks. At 22 sacks allowed they rank 26th in the NFL.
Outside of a week six aberration against the Cowboys, the Jaguars defense has been lights out in 2018. Not including that debacle in Dallas, the most points the Jaguars defense has surrendered in a game is 23, and that came against the high powered Chiefs. Again, not including the Dallas game, the Jaguars defense is giving up an average of just 16.5 points per game. If the Jaguars can find any way to manufacture points, they should be in a good position to win this one.
5. Doug on Doug crime.
If you think Doug Marrone didn't circle this game on the schedule you'd be wrong. He'd likely never admit it, but Doug Marrone has got to be fired up to have a chance to out-coach Doug Pederson in this one. In a book written by Philadelphia's head coach that was released earlier this year, Philly's leader took some shots at the way Doug Marrone handled some situations in the AFC Championship loss to the Patriots. Pederson was particular peeved about how the Jaguars took a knee at the end of the first half instead of trying to go for the jugular.
"It made me mad because Jacksonville had New England right where they wanted them. I was screaming at the TV in my office. When they knelt right before halftime, inside I was like, 'I'll never do that.' It fueled me. They could have least tried for a field goal. They took it out of their quarterback's hands, and they didn't give to their big back Leonard Fournette. I thought, 'If they lose this game, this is why.' Sure enough they would go on to lose the game."
Jaguars head man Doug Marrone responded cleverly, commenting about a book he read recently called "The Art of Not Giving A F---: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life".
Marrone should be eager to make Doug Pederson eat his words. The Jaguars, as a team, should be motivated to win this one for their head coach. No one is likely to admit it, but this game just means more.
There you have it. There's five reasons the Jaguars have a chance to find their mojo.
Check back on Thursday for a breakdown of why they might not be able to recapture that mojo in London.
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