The Jacksonville Jaguars look to win their third straight game to start the 2018 NFL regular season. The Tennessee Titans are in the way of making that happen. Here are three bold predictions
If you listen to the local sports talk radio hosts here in town, there is no way the Jacksonville Jaguars will lose on Sunday to the Tennessee Titans. The cynic in me thinks this game will be tougher than some think. But I have a few predictions to share.
Is there a bigger rival for this team than the Titans. Tennessee beat the Jaguars twice last season. If that isn’t bad enough, the visitors may have Blaine Gabbert as their starter. Gabbert, the former first-round draft pick by Jacksonville in 2011, beat the Jaguars last season when he was a member of the Arizona Cardinals.
When I asked earlier this week who was writing a story about how Gabbert, who has had a sub-par NFL career, could beat his former team for the season year in a row, another local sports writer said no one would write that because it’s not happening.
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I’m glad he has more confidence than I do. Something about this game screams “trap” to me, where the Jaguars won’t have the same kind of adrenaline when they run out of the tunnel Sunday afternoon. My heart tells me this should be a blowout. My mind tells me this rivalry has produced awful football games lately.
This could be another stinker if Jacksonville is caught looking ahead of themselves. An AFC South rival like Tennessee could see this as a stepping stone toward making the ultimate statement following the Jaguars win over New England.
I still think Jacksonville wins, but in reality, it’s tighter than many would like it to be.
Since this is a “bold” piece I am putting together, let’s throw it out there. Here are three predictions about a Jaguars victory on Sunday.
Prediction No. 1 – Blake Bortles throws four more touchdown passes
OK, so I am starting off with a fastball right down the middle. Blake Bortles played one of the best games of his career last Sunday. Four touchdowns to four different receivers. It’s the kind of game that should have shut up every doubter about the signal caller’s ability.
For one week, the Jaguars had arguably the best quarterback in the NFL.
This is a bold prediction because we know the Jaguars will revert back to the running game first and the passing game, second. Leonard Fournette is back in the starting lineup. He should get plenty of carries this week.
Bortles should still be able to throw the football around the yard on Sunday. Tossing passing for over 350 yards would mean the running game is not working against the Tennessee front seven.
Predictions No. 2 – The Jacksonville defense gets 10 sacks
Since they did it twice last season, anything is possible. The Jaguars defense looked fierce in the game against the Patriots but also showed the ability to regroup when they were pushed back toward their own end zone.
Defensive end Yannick Ngakoue has not registered a sack this season. While the Jaguars front four is getting penetration up the middle and on the edge, they have not put Eli Manning and Tom Brady on the ground as they did with quarterbacks last season.
This week, that can all change. Hello, Mr. Gabbert, welcome to Sacksonville.
Both Manning and Brady are statues most of the time. Gabbert is athletic, but he is not a mobile quarterback like his teammate Marcus Mariota. It could be a long day in the pocket for the starter, whoever that is.
Prediction No. 3 – Shutout City
The Jaguars can make a statement that the road to Atlanta and Super Bowl 53 runs through North Florida on Sunday. Pitching a shutout would certainly make the case for this organization.
Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone preaches that he works every day to get this team better. The players have bought into his system, the hard work, and dedication.
The Jaguars should be able to control the line of scrimmage and control the clock. Running back Derrick Henry has not gotten off to a fast start. Tennessee’s wide receivers don’t strike fear in any secondary.
It could be a role-reversal of the 37-16 win by the Titans last season. This time, the Jaguars make sure Tennessee leaves with nothing to show for their efforts on the scoreboard.