The Jaguars head north this week to face the slumping Jets. The Jets have lost their last two games and were embarrassed just a week ago by a young Raiders team. The Jets looked flat out tired against the Raiders after losing to their arch nemesis, the Patriots, the week before. The Jets are a prideful team, filled with talented veterans — this will be a tough test for the youthful Jaguars; a test that, if they pass, will land them back in first place in the AFC South.
The Jaguars’ offense versus the Jets’ defense will be fun to watch. The Jets have one of the best and most talented defenses in the league, while the Jaguars might have the best young core of offensive talent in the AFC. Despite the Jets’ defensive success this season they have been torched through the air in their last two games, giving up 335 passing yards per game and 6 passing touchdowns over that span. The Jaguars want to have a balanced attack on offense, but the Jets have been tough against the run almost all year — of course, just last week they gave up over 100 yards rushing to the Raiders’ Latavious Murray. Jaguars' rookie running back, T.J. Yeldon, will look to top 100 yards rushing for his third time in four games. This matchup will show how far along the Jaguars’ young offense truly is in their “race to maturity”.
Quarterback play will be key. The Jets are going to start grizzled veteran, Ryan Fitzpatrick, despite the injury to his non throwing hand. He has beaten the Jaguars on four different teams through out his career, but he is injured and this Jaguars team will look to bring a lot of pressure to throw him off his game early. If he reaggravates his injury, then the Jets will be in serious trouble as their backup, Geno Smith, is highly erratic. On the flip side, the Jaguars may have the most improved player in the whole NFL in Blake Bortles. He is on pace to break several Jaguars’ single season passing records in only his second season as a pro, but he has not faced a defense like this Jets’ defense. They will bring pressure from all over and Blake will have to be ready for it all day or we might be talking about another dreaded pick six by Bortles. A key note is that despite the Jets’ reputation for bringing heavy pressure and exotic blitzes, they have only taken down the opposing quarterback 11 times this season, which puts them at 29th in the NFL. A curious stat — and if these Jets are not able to get pressure on Bortles he could be in for a huge day.
Can the Jags rely on Jason Myers? To this point the answer has been no, as he has cost them dearly more than once this season. The Jaguars brought in some kickers for a try out last week, but none of them were impressive enough to take Myers’ spot on the roster. Only time will tell if Myers can reverse his current trend or if we will cripple the Jaguars efforts again.
The Jaguars are finally healthy, for the most part. They will be without Marqise Lee and Rashad Greene, but they have been with out those two for most of the season. Aside from the two receivers and guard, Brandon Linder, who is out for the season, the Jaguars will likely have everyone else available on Sunday. The Jets, however, have a long list on injuries, and they may be without one of their best offensive weapons in Brandon Marshall.
If the Jaguars are able to pull off a victory on the road against the Jets, then fans should be excited and it will show that this team is ready to compete for this division, and maybe, just maybe, make a run to the playoffs.
Bold Prediction: Jaguars 31, Jets 30
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