The Jaguars head to Green Bay, the land of cheese, to take on Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. At 1-7, the Jaguars might be walking into a buzzsaw this week against a Green Bay squad that boasts a 6-2 record.
Let's jump into some of the top storylines of this week ten matchup!
Ending the Streak
After a shocking (to some) week one victory over the Colts, the Jaguars have lost seven straight games. They were competitive last week against the Texans, but the Packers are an entirely different animal. The Jaguars look to snap their seven games losing streak in 2020, and they're two-game losing skid against the Packers, dating back to 2012.
Aaron Rodgers might have the best arm in the history of football, but that's a debate for another time. What's not disputable? Rodgers is lighting the league on fire in this, his 16th season. Completing 67% of his passes, with 24 touchdowns and only two interceptions, Rodgers is among the hottest quarterbacks in football. The Jaguars' pass defense looked improved in terms of consistency in week nine but still gave up some back-breaking explosive plays. The Jaguars got the most pressure they have all season, but it wasn't enough. Rodgers could be in line for another big-time performance this Sunday.
Packers' offensive weapons
Aiding Aaron in his quest for a second Super Bowl title are his trusty offensive weapons. Davante Adams, one of the top receivers in football, has hauled in 53 catches in six games and has found the endzone eight times. Running back Aaron Jones has also missed some time in 2020, but in his six games played, he's averaged over 100 total yards per game and scored seven times. Adams and Jones represent one of the most dangerous combinations of receiver and running back in the NFL, and could be the steepest test these young Jags have faced all year.
Smith and Alexander
On the defensive side of the ball, the Packers are in the middle of the pack (hahaha) statistically. But they have an elite pass rusher and one of the best cornerbacks in the game. Za'Darius Smith has racked up 23 pressures and seven sacks this season and will be a constant threat. Cover man Jaire Alexander, in his third season as a pro, has one interception and three passes defended in 2020. But don't let his stats fool you; he's been locking down opposing number one receivers all year and has surrendered a passer rating in coverage of just 69.8. There is a possibility, if not a likelihood that Alexander won't suit up this week as he's in the concussion protocol and has a hand injury. He's listed as doubtful on the Packers' final injury report of the week. Should Alexander miss the contest, his absence could help open up the field for the Jaguars' passing attack.
Luton's first road test
Rookie quarterback Jake Luton made the first start of his career last Sunday and performed admirably. He showed off impressive pocket presence and a strong arm. But he also had 4-5 turnover worthy plays. He'll need to tighten up if he hopes to compete with the Packers in Green Bay. If Luton has another strong showing, he could hold onto this starting job even after Gardner Minshew returns to health.
No Doug Costin
Defensive tackle Doug Costin made the first start of his career last week as well, and he performed at a high level next to DaVon Hamilton on the interior. But he's out this week with a concussion, which will open the door for Taven Bryan and Daniel Ekuale to take more reps. Will they perform at the same level as Costin? If not, the Jaguars' run defense and interior penetration could suffer greatly.
A Heavy dose of J-Rob?
If there's one area that the Packers' defense has shown to be slightly vulnerable, it's stopping the run. In their most recent loss to the Vikings, Dalvin Cook ran all over the Green Bay defense en route to four touchdowns. James Robinson is no Dalvin Cook, but he's proven to be an excellent runner in his own right and will likely be the key to sustaining possessions on offense. He's carried the ball over twenty times in each of the Jaguars' last two contests, and I'd expect that trend to continue.
DJ Chark had a strong showing in his first game action with Jake Luton under center, hauling in seven catches for 146 yards, including a 73-yard touchdown on the opening drive of the game. Chark is a Pro-Bowl caliber receiver. Jake Luton will need to target him early and often again this week, and Chark will need to take advantage. With presumably no Jaire Alexander for the Packers, Chark could feast.
Continuing to mix it up on defense
Jaguars' defensive coordinator finally mixed it up last week. He sent some blitzes and showed some exotic looks for the first time in what feels like an eternity. The Jags will need to continue to deploy a wide variety of looks if they hope to improve as a defensive unit.
As much fun as it is to see the Jaguars win games, losing is in the franchise's best interest. The top two quarterbacks in the 2021 draft class appear to be franchise-changing players, so locking up one of the top two spots in the draft will be essential for the long-term health of the franchise. The Big Cats currently hold the number two overall pick, but another win could see them fall out of the top five.
There are a number of connections in this game. Packer's offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett served in the same role with the Jaguars before being unceremoniously fired in the middle of the 2018 season. And Packers' TE Marcedes Lewis is the best tight end in the Jaguars' franchise history. He felt wronged when the Jaguars released him and might have extra motivation in this one. Speaking of extra motivation, Jags' strong safety Josh Jones was released by the Packers just two years after they selected him in the second round of the draft. He'll be looking to show his former club a thing or two (if he suits up; he's questionable with a chest injury). And Allen Lazard, the Packers' number two receiver, was an undrafted free agent signing for the Jaguars in 2018. However, he was sniped from the Jaguars' practice squad in December of his rookie season and has been a steady contributor, when healthy, for the Packers. He's on track to return to action this week after missing time with a core muscle injury.
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