Jacksonville Jaguars: 3 matchups that will decide the game vs Cardinals

Arizona Cardinals QB Kyler Murray (1) and RB ​Chase Edmonds (2)
Arizona Cardinals QB Kyler Murray (1) and RB ​Chase Edmonds (2) /
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Jacksonville Jaguars
Guard Andrew Norwell (68) of the Jacksonville Jaguars at TIAA Bank Field. (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports) /

On paper, it looks like the 0-2 Jacksonville Jaguars will be outmatched (and soundly beaten) by the 2-0 Arizona Cardinals in Week 3 of the 2021 regular season. The Cards have one of the most dominant offenses in the NFL, quarterback Kyler Murray is playing at an MVP level and they have a couple of terrific pass rushers in J.J. Watt and Chandler Jones.

On the other hand, Arizona is far from perfect. They gave up 33 points to the Minnesota Vikings in Week  2. Their defense posted six sacks in the season opener but only got the quarterback just once in Week 2. They have a middle-of-the-pack defense, ranking 14th in point scored. If the Jaguars want to keep up with the Cardinals, they will have to win one, some (or all) these matchups.

1. The Jacksonville Jaguars’ O-Line must contain the Cards’ pass rush.

Chandler Jones had a dominant performance in the season opener but cooled down against the Vikings. He still pressured quarterback Kirk Cousins three times but didn’t register a sack. J.J. Watt has been ruled out for the game but even if he had played, he might not have been much of a factor. The five-time First-Team All-Pro isn’t the same difference-maker he was in the prime of his career. Injuries have taken a toll on him and he’s posted just two pressures and no sacks this year.

Meanwhile, the Jaguars’ offensive line has played surprisingly well. Looking back, the team’s brass made the right decision when they decided to keep all their starters from last season. In two games, the unit has given up just sacks, and there’s a good chance their performance will carry over to Week 3. If Jacksonville can neutralize Jones, quarterback Trevor Lawrence will have enough time to find his receivers.