Fact or fiction took a short hiatus last week because I had to deal with a graduate student’s worst nightmare (qualifying exams). The Jaguars took this as a cue to finally look like a competent offense for a significant portion of a professional football game. The Jags got some help from a hobbled Green Bay defense, but the star of the show was Blaine Gabbert. Despite some wildly different critiques floating around the internet (See: Bleacher Report and The Score), the general take away from last week’s game is that Blaine is capable of playing at a high level for the majority of a game. He’ll have a chance to continue his ascension against an inconsistent Detroit Lions team.
Despite facing some pressure throughout the game, Blaine Gabbert was effective.
There are some interesting storylines for this game, so let’s get back to making some comically bad predictions.
Mike Thomas will drop at least one pass: FACT
Usually Mike Thomas’ drops hurt the Jaguars (last week in the red zone), but this week, he’s the Lions’ problem! Nobody in Jacksonville shed too many tears after Thomas was traded considering how poorly he’s played since prematurely receiving a lucrative extension. He was given multiple opportunities at wide receiver and punt returner but failed to make an impact every time. We can finally take solace this weekend when Thomas disappoints another fan base.
The Jaguars will produce 2+ sacks: FACT
The Jaguars defense showed some life last week, holding Aaron Rodgers to under 200 yards while registering 2 sacks and consistent pressure. The defensive line, particularly the interior, did a good job collapsing the pocket and forcing Rodgers to make tough throws. The Lions defense has already allowed 17 sacks, and Matthew Stafford likes to hold on to the ball and go deep (wouldn’t you if you had Calvin Johnson?). If the defensive ends can get some pressure, the Jags’ defense should be able to capitalize on Stafford’s inevitable per-game mistake.
The Jaguars will hold Calvin Johnson under 100 yards receiving: FICTION
Jacksonville lucked out last week with Green Bay missing their top two receivers, but they’ll have no such luck this week as they face Calvin Johnson. Despite “struggling” (damn you Madden Curse), Johnson still has three 100+ yard receiving games this season and is due for one of his 150 yard, 2 touchdown games. With the Jaguars’ defense potentially missing both Derek Cox and Rashean Mathis, it’s hard to believe the defense can contain Calvin Johnson with reserves Aaron Ross and Chris Prosinski.
Also, Calvin Johnson can do things like this.
Rashad Jennings will rush for more than 100 yards: FACT
Despite a promising preseason, Rashad Jennings has been relatively underwhelming while filling in for Maurice Jones-Drew. He had a productive game receiving against Green Bay, but he’s averaged less than 3.5 yards a carry over the last two games. Jennings should get plenty of opportunities this week against a Detroit defense that gives up over 100 yards rushing a game. Additionally, it looks like the Jaguars are going to stick with Mike Brewster, who’s decidedly outperformed Eben Britton, at left guard for the foreseeable future.
If Gabbert can continue his chemistry with Cecil Shorts III and Jennings can start ripping off 5+ yard runs consistently, the Jags should be able to hang around with the Lions. Their undoing may be their hobbled secondary, but if the defensive line can play as well as they did last week against Green Bay, they might be able to make up for their deficiencies in the back end. And quite frankly, they need to get the home fans a win.
Jacksonville 28 – Detroit 24