The Jaguars are set to host the Dolphins in a prime time Thursday Night Football showdown. With the Jaguars at 1-1 and the Dolphins having yet to win a game, both clubs are desperate for a victory.
Let's dive into ten storylines heading into the opening matchup of week three of the 2020 NFL season.
The Jaguars have taken down the Dolphins in five of their nine meetings, including a 62-7 massacre in the divisional round of the playoffs back in 1999. More recently, the Jags have won two straight against the Fins.
Youngest Teams in Football
These are the two youngest teams in the NFL. Both teams have an average age of right around 25 years old. While the Dolphins have been rebuilding a bit longer than the Jaguars, Jacksonville appears to be more ready to compete at a high level than does Miami.
Mustache vs Beard
Earlier this week, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Gardner Minshew had a bit of a back and forth via press conferences with local media. Fitzpatrick, the bearded one, shot first. "The mustache versus the beard, I think the beard is cooler," said Fitzpatrick. "Guys that grow mustaches have patchy sides." Minshew responded, "I let mine (mustache) speak for itself. I think I've shown that I can grow a beard with no patchy sides. But, you know, I'm gonna have respect for my elders. Especially when they're much, much elder. I'll be respectful." Which one of these wonders of facial hair will emerge victorious on Thursday night?
The Jaguars are donning all teal uniforms for the first time in franchise history. If you ask me, it's been a long time coming. They've also painted the usually barren end zones teal for this one.
Home Field Advantage?
The Jaguars are 1-0 at home this season. Among the few teams actually allowing fans to attend games, the Jaguars seemed to enjoy being able to have their loyal supporters cheer them on in their week one win against the Colts. It may only be 25% capacity, but that's better than nothing, right? Will we see a home-field advantage begin to develop for the Jaguars?
Some unfortunate injuries crept up for both sides this week. The Jaguars will be without one of the best kickers in the NFL, Josh Lambo, who is dealing with a hip injury. He's been placed on IR, so he'll be out at least the next three weeks. 2020 undrafted free agent Brandon Wright will take his place in the lineup. The Jaguars' starting center Brandon Linder will also miss this one with a knee injury, but he's day-to-day moving forward. Wide receiver DJ Chark is questionable for the Jaguars with a chest injury, but Tom Pelissero reported Thursday morning that Chark is trending in the right direction. On the Dolphins' side, they won't have Byron Jones, who is perhaps their best player. The star CB is dealing with groin and achilles injuries.
A Shoot Out?
The Jaguars have been producing a lot of yards and points on offense so far, and the Dolphins' defense hasn't exactly been competitive to this point in the season. The Jaguars have been solid against the run on defense, but very susceptible to the pass. Ryan Fitzpatrick through the heck out of the ball in week two on his way to 328 yards and two touchdowns. There could be plenty of points and air yards put up in this one.
The Turnover Battle
This is the oldest one in the book, but it bears repeating. Whoever wins the turnover battle will have a leg up. The Jaguars forced two turnovers in week one and committed none of their own. Unsurprisingly they emerged victoriously. In week two, the tables turned as Minshew tossed two interceptions, helping lead to a Jaguars' loss. If the Jags can play clean football and take advantage of the Dolphins when they make mistakes, they should win this ball game.
In Prime Time Games
Gardner Minshew is 1-0 in prime times games, and the Jaguars are 16-12 at home in such contests. The Jaguars have won their last four home games in prime time. Will the magic continue for Minshew and company?
Even in 2019, the Jaguars had one of the top pass rushes in football. Going back to 2017, when the Big Cats were on a historic sack pace for much of the season, they were dubbed "Sacksonville." Through two games in 2020, the Jags haven't lived up to the monicker. Having produced only two total sacks and 16 pressures, the Jaguars need to find their pass rush in the coming weeks if they hope to be competitive down the stretch in 2020.
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