An early pattern is beginning to take shape. In week one, when the Jaguars dominated the Texans 29-7, Leonard Fournette had a big day, eclipsing the 100 yard mark and finding his way into the end zone. In week two, when the Jaguars received a beat down of their own from the Tennessee Titans, Fournette was bottled up. He did find the end zone, which obviously helped out his fantasy owners quite a bit (Thanks, Leonard!), but he wasn't able to have the same impact on the game that he did in week one. It's a small sample size, but it seems safe to say that as Leonard Fournette goes so go the Jaguars in 2017. It's a lot of pressure to put on a rookie's shoulders, but Fournette has always had pressure. In high school he was the highest rated player in the country. In college, at LSU, he was the entire Tigers offense. So, why should anything change now that he's in the NFL?
The team will need Fournette to have a big game on Sunday against the Ravens in order to emerge from London 2-1 and stay in control of their own destiny. A couple of factors will impact whether or not Fournette is able to be the impact player we saw in week one.
The Jaguars will simply need to feature him more. Against the Texans Fournette had 16 carries in the first half alone. That strategy worked quite well and wore down the normally stout Texans defense. In week two Fournette ceded some of his first half work load to Chris Ivory. It almost appeared that the Jaguars were saving Fournette for later in the game. This week they'll need to go back to their original strategy with Fournette -- get the Duval Destroyer the ball early and often. The more carries he gets early on, the more he can wear down the defense. By the time the fourth quarter comes around no-one will want a piece of Fournette. So, Jaguars, feed the beast!
Another big factor is who's lining up on the other side of the ball. The Ravens are giving up just 85 yards a game on the ground. But their first two opponents were the lowly Browns, and Bengals. Not exactly the cream of the crop. The Jaguars will want to run the ball close to 40 times and hope to rack up over 150 yards on the ground, but will the Ravens defense allow it? Some big news on the injury front suggests that the Jaguars should be able to run the ball consistently -- the Ravens best interior defensive lineman, Brandon Williams, has been ruled out for this game. The Jaguars should look to take advantage of Baltimore's misfortune.
I believe the Jaguars will figure out a way to get Fournette going early and will pound the Ravens into submission. On the other side of the ball the Jaguars defense should be able to dominate a Ravens offense that doesn't boast any overly impressive weapons. I'll take the Jaguars in a low scoring affair, but I wouldn't be at all surprised to see a final score like we did in Houston week one. Still, the Jaguars passing game likely won't be overly effective, which should keep the score low.
Jaguars 16, Ravens 12
Will Fournette and the Jaguars find a way to dominate on the ground? Tune in Sunday morning to find out!
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