Game Preview: Jaguars vs. New Orleans Saints

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And even if the Jaguars can block the Saints pass rush, that secondary is still good despite its 2011 numbers. Let’s not forget, they played against the Packers, Bears, and Texans. Safe to say, that’s 2 and a half (I’m not sure where to put the Bears yet via offense) very good offensive units. And we’d fool ourselves, if we think, the Jaguars represent bigger challenge then any of them. Another bad news for the Jaguars that Tracy Porter will return to the lineup. He, Harper, S Malcolm Jenkins and CB Jabari Greer will be –safe to say- a huge challenge for the young WR unit and the rookie QB.

 We must mention one unit, which is all of sudden having (quite big) issues – the Jaguars special teams. Matt Turk is so unrespectable like David Garrard was. Kassim Osgood and Montell Owens (last year’s Pro Bowl Stselection and runner up) are most likely out. The 3rd biggest ST ace, William Middleton must replace Derek Cox, so I think he can’t play so much on the ST unit. The Jaguars starting to give up big numbers at returns, which is especially bad, sinceNew Orleans has one of the most dangerous return man in Darren Sproles. The Jaguars kick and punt returners (Karim and Shorts) are average at best so far. Josh Scobee is the only bright spot right now from this area. And that’s bad; because the opponents have better starting field positions compared to the last 2 year average. And the Jaguars struggling offense must start the game in bad starting positions as well (just think to the 2 safeties in the last 2 games). I know that his unit is banged up, but if they can’t play better particularly in this game, that will hurt the home team more then usual.

I read many opinions how the Jaguars can win this game. Here’s a little list.

1. The Saints must play bad, or Brees must have a bad game.  Not likely, although I saw the ’09 game against Miami when the red hot Saints team pull out the easy looking victory very, very hard. Or last year against the Cardinals, when Max Hall played his first game, andArizonawon it. Both matches were away games for the Saints. So that is a possibility, although the Jaguars as a whole must play extremely well.

2. The special teams and/or the defense must score. Well I just wrote how bad things are looking in the special teams. But I have a worse statistics (which by the way nobody wants to talk about, but it’s a very, very embarrassing fact.): the Jaguars defense hasn’t scored a point since almost 3 complete season ago. Next week against the Bengals will be the exact 3 year “anniversary” that Rashean Mathis picked off Steelers QB Ben Roetlishberger and returned it for a TD. Since then  the Jaguars played 46 games and the  defense hasn’t scored a single point.

3. Making big plays on offense. Well it’s fair to say Maurice Jones-Drew has a big play in his legs (and even hands) any time, but other then him, and maybe Marcedes Lewis and Mike Thomas, I just don’t see that right now on this offense…

Side note: When will the Jaguars use Cecil Shorts? I saw one pass flying into his direction. That was the play when Gabbert was picked of last week…Will Shorts be the WR version of Zach Miller (he was/is so secret weapon, even the Jaguars fan base barely knows him…)?

All these signs telling me, that this game will be a loss. The Saints are a much better football team right now, no question about that. We will get answers from this game, especially about the defense (if they are good as their rankings, or not), and we will see how the Jaguars can match up at home against a potential playoff (and Superbowl) contender. Even if they lose, I’ll watch how the Jaguars will do it. Will they fight until the end, and have a shot to win it even in the 4th quarter (which would be a good sign for me), or this will be another blow out L, which will make Jack Del Rio’s seat very, very, very hot. I’m not going to lie, I fear about this game. Partly because if it turns out ugly, that could start a slow meltdown. And partly because this Saints team will be the first in a row among great teams the Jaguars will face of in 2011…

Prediction: Saints 31- Jaguars 17

Zoltan Paksa