The Jacksonville Jaguars enter Week 16 in a three-way tie for first place in the AFC South. Tiebreakers give them the edge on the Houston Texans and the Indianapolis Colts. However, a loss against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will hurt their chances of remaining at the top of the division and making the playoffs.
Working against the Jags is that Trevor Lawrence is in concussion protocol and may not play Sunday. Also, injuries have ravaged the offensive line, and wide receiver Zay Jones won't probably suit up due to a groin injury. That said, injuries are not an excuse, especially with the season in the line, so whoever ends up playing will need to show out.
On the bright side, the Jags will be getting reinforcements. Specifically, cornerback Tyson Campbell, safety Andre Cisco, and blocking specialist Brenton Strange are trending toward playing, so the Jags won't be fully depleted when they face the Bucs. With that in mind, here are three keys to victory.
3. The Jaguars need to build the game plan around Evan Engram and Calvin Ridley
Wide receiver Christian Kirk is on Injured Reserve after undergoing core surgery. As noted before, Zay Jones' availability for Week 16 is in question, so it will be up to tight end Evan Engram and Calvin Ridley to pick up the slack.
Engram has been one of the Jags' most reliable playmakers this season, having broken his personal best for catches and receiving yards with three games to go. On the other hand, Ridley has been dominant at times and been a non-factor at others. Without Jones and Kirk, there will be added pressure for him to deliver.
Ridley, in particular, needs to avoid drops and mental errors. The coaching staff, for their part, must craft a game plan that maximizes his ability to run crisp routes and create separation. By featuring Engram and Ridley, rookie Parker Washington, who's been feeling in for Kirk, should find several favorable matchups.