Despite their best efforts to give me and every other fan a heart attack last Sunday, the Jags managed to pull a win out of their collective butts against the Colts. They did, however, manage to make me look like a complete fool since basically all of my predictions last week were wrong (except for my close call on the score). Gabbert and Blackmon both had pretty rough days and Andrew Luck managed to get over 300+ yards.
Nobody looked as foolish as Russell Allen on this dumb roughing penalty.
Still, the Jaguars found a lot to build upon from that game. The Jaguars defense had a different look to it when Derek Cox was on the field and Maurice Jones-Drew was able to turn big holes into big gains. Last week I thought we might be getting at least one of our offensive lineman and Austen Lane back on the defensive front, but it didn’t work out that way.
Against the Bengals this week, the Jaguars are likely to get back at least one of their offensive lineman and Austen Lane (knock on wood). Hell, we might even get back Rashad Jennings. I’m just going to blame my ineptitude last week on none of those guys returning from injury. That’s right, screw you guys. It’s never my fault.
With my infallibility officially established, let’s get to my fearless predictions.
Maurice Jones-Drew will rush for 100+ yards: FACT
Mojo had a terrific game against the Colts thanks to some massive holes produced by the offensive line. Turns out that putting Marcedes Lewis next to Guy Whimper for most of the game produces a relatively competent run-blocking right tackle. Jones-Drew should have similar success against the Bengals’ 32nd ranked run defense. If the Jaguars can keep the game close and feed the ball to Mojo, they could neutralize the Bengals’ stingy pass rush led by the former Gator party animal – Carlos Dunlap.
Andy Dalton will have 300+ yards and 2+ TDs: FICTION
Andy Dalton has thrown for 300+ yards in his last two games, but those came against a beat-up Redskins defense and a Joe Haden-less Browns defense. Really, this comes down to the fact that the Jaguars will finally be able to start Derek Cox and Rashean Mathis on the outside. Aaron Ross has been bad enough for people to consistently joke about his wife taking over for him in the nickel. If the Jags can produce even a semblance of a pass rush, they should keep Andy Dalton and AJ Green at bay.
Justin Blackmon will have 5+ receptions and 60+ yards: FACT
I was a week early on my Blackmon “breakout” prediction. I went out on a limb last week under the assumption that at the very least the Jaguars wouldn’t have Guy Whimper out there. A breakdown of Blackmon’s game against the Colts over at Big Cat Country highlights how the lack of production from Justin starts with the offensive line. There were two plays in particular last week where Justin might have had a big play but the protection broke down. If Gabbert has a fully healthy unit in front of him this week, it’s perfectly reasonable to expect more actual production from Blackmon.
The Jaguars will not record a sack against the Bengals: FICTION
The Jaguars only have two sacks this season, none of those coming from the defensive ends. With the return of Austen Lane the Jaguars should be able to get some pressure against a Bengals offensive line that has already surrendered 12 sacks. Having two cornerbacks (Cox and Mathis) who can actually cover a receiver for more than 2 seconds should also help.
That glorious beard is good for at least 2 sacks.
Cecil Shorts III will make a catch before the final 2 minutes of a game for once: FACT
Cecil Shorts III (not Cecil Shorts, that’s his grandfather) and Gabbert have developed a mutual clutch gene (as pointed out here by Luke Sims), but at some point that connection needs to translate to the rest of the game. Shorts has a good chance to get in the game earlier this week since Laurent Robinson is likely out as a precaution from his concussion last week. He should get some targets early against the Bengals.
The Jaguars are honoring arguably their best player in franchise history this Sunday – Fred Taylor. That should be plenty motivation to show up and compete against the Bengals. The Jags should roll if they can get some early scores and look more like the team that played Minnesota in the first quarter of week 1.
Jaguars 27 – Bengals 23
– Daniel Lago