Your 2-8 Jacksonville Jaguars will play host for the second straight week. Whether their home contest against the 4-6 Atlanta Falcons will be something Jaguars' fans can be thankful for remains to be seen.
Let's get you ready for this week 12 matchup between the Big Cats and the Dirty Birds!
The Jaguars have a few key injuries to keep an eye on. Starting cornerback Shaquill Griffin is in the concussion protocol after exiting the week 11 loss to the 49ers early. Griffin has yet to participate in practice or clear the protocol, so his availability is still up in the air. The Jaguars' other starting cornerback, rookie Tyson Campbell, suffered an AC sprain in his shoulder against the 49ers and has been limited in practice this week. Starting linebacker Myles Jack has been dealing with a knee injury for several weeks, and while he didn't participate in practice on Wednesday, it was estimated he would have been able to practice in a limited capacity on Thursday had the team practiced. Workhorse running back James Robinson is still limited with a heel/knee injury that has reduced his workload over the last two weeks. While Griffin's availability for Sunday is still unknown, Urban Meyer expects the rest of his injured players to be able to suit up in front of the home crowd. Of course, the Jaguars will be without Jamal Agnew, a guy who went from kick return extraordinaire to a critical weapon on offense for these Jags. He's out for the season with a hip injury suffered late against San Francisco.
On the Falcons' side of the injury report, RB/KR Cordarrelle Patterson missed last week's contest with an ankle injury but has been limited this week and is expected to play on Sunday. DL Jonathan Bullard (ankle) and CB Kendall Sheffield (hamstring) have not participated in practice this week. The big missing pieces for the Falcons' offense are wide receiver Calvin Ridley and tight end Hayden Hurst. Hurst is on IR with an ankle injury, while Ridley is focusing on his mental health. The Falcons' offense lacks playmakers without those two.
Did I mention the Falcons' offense lacks playmakers? Don't tell Kyle Pitts. The tight end was selected fourth overall in the 2021 NFL Draft and leads the team with 43 catches, 635 yards, and a score. The Jaguars struggle to contain tight ends, especially ones with freakish athletic ability. Pitts might be the most talented tight end ever to enter the NFL, and he'll present a unique challenge to Jaguars' defensive coordinator Joe Cullen. Pitts runs and moves like an elite receiver but has the size of a legitimate tight end. Will Cullen try to box him in? Switch coverages to confuse him? We'll see how Cullen attacks Pitts on Sunday. Either way, the rookie playmaker is likely to get his fair share of opportunities in this one.
Jags' O vs Falcons' D
The Jaguars' offense has been abysmal as of late. Darrell Bevell's offensive game plan has lacked creativity and hasn't exactly played to the team's strengths often enough. With James Robinson unable to take on his normal workload over the last month, the Jags have scored just 40 points in their last four games. The Jaguars desperately need James Robinson to touch the ball more, but it's unclear whether or not his knee/heel will cooperate. The Jaguars brought in WR/KR Jaydon Mickens this week, and while he has some of the skill set that Jamal Agnew possesses, he doesn't figure to factor into the offense much with limited practice time. But John Brown, whom the Jaguars picked up during week 11, will likely be relied upon to create space with his speed. Whether or not he can produce, we still don't know. He did very little in his Jaguars' debut. Rookie QB Trevor Lawrence has played well over the last two contests, but his supporting cast has been wretched. He'll need WRs Marvin Jones and Laviska Shenault to step up in the consistency department if the Jaguars want to have a chance at a functional offense in week 12. Marvin Jones hasn't been making the plays we've come to expect from him over the years, while Laviska Shenault is dropping the ball at a high clip and lost a devastating fumble against San Fran. The Falcons' defense isn't as bad as you might think, but they do lack pass rushers outside of Grady Jarrett. Dante Fowler is their second-best in that department, but he's managed just 15 pressures all year. This even front lacks high-end talent. The Jaguars should be able to run the ball reasonably effectively against Atlanta, a defense allowing 4.2 yards per carry on the ground. Linebacker Deion Jones has plenty of talent, but he's experiencing the worst season of his career in Dean Pees' defense. Jones has been brutal in coverage and isn't showing the same instincts we're used to seeing from him in run support. On the back end, second-year cornerback AJ Terrell is balling out for the Birds, allowing only 52.8% on targets in primary coverage to be completed. Safety Jaylinn Hawkins is another key cog in Atlanta's secondary, and he'll return to the field this week for the first time since week nine. The Jaguars' offense has the potential to out-physical this Falcons' defense, but with the lack of success across the board lately, it's hard to expect many fireworks from Trevor Lawrence and company.
Falcons' O vs Jaguars' D
As poor as the Jaguars' offense has been, the Falcons are right there with them. First year head coach has struggled to implement his offense coming over from Tennessee. They've scored only three points in their last two contests and have been turning the ball over at a high clip, allowing a ton of pressure on quarterback Matt Ryan. They'll get Cordarrelle Patterson back, which should help, but it doesn't look like the Falcons' offense will be much of a match for the Jaguars' defense that has been playing at a reasonably high level. Unforced errors doomed the Jaguars' defense in week 11, but with a cleaner game in that regard, they should be able to keep the Falcons grounded. The Jaguars' pass rush has been impressive and should be able to take advantage of a Falcons' offense line that is allowing way too much pressure. Still, Patterson and Pitts could present serious problems.
Regression to the Mean
The Jaguars have been down 17-0 by the time Trevor Lawrence got the ball for his third offensive drive in consecutive weeks. As poor as these Jaguars have proven to be, it's statistically unlikely that trend continues this week. I'm predicting the Jaguars will have a more typical start to this contest, allowing them to play with a more favorable game script.
I expect the Jaguars to pull this one out. Their defense is an improving group that faces a much less daunting task this week than in the three weeks prior. As a result, they should be able to dictate to the Falcons a bit and hold them under twenty points. I don't expect the Jaguars' offense to light it up, but with a few breaks going their way, they'll outpace the Falcons in this one.
Final: Falcons 13, Jaguars 17
Jordan's season record: 6-4
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