The Jacksonville Jaguars went 6-2 in the first half of the 2023 season but their schedule will get considerably more difficult in the second half. Starting in Week 10 against the San Francisco 49ers, the Jags will embark on a six-game gauntlet that includes a trio of potential AFC contenders, and a couple of division foes.
Then again, Jacksonville must take care of business and beat the 49ers at home before they start thinking about any future games. As head coach Doug Pederson told the media Monday, they must take it one game at a time and San Francisco is an opponent they cannot afford to underestimate.
Although the Niners are coming off a three-game losing skid, they're favored to beat the Jags in Week 10 and it's easy to see why. They have enough talent on both sides of the ball to bounce back. Moreover, they've been a perennial contender under head coach Kyle Shanahan, who knows how best to navigate through adversity.
On the other hand, the Jaguars are playing at home and have one of the best defenses in the league, so they won't go down without a fight. WIth this in mind, here are three storylines to keep an eye on in Week 10.
No. 3 Will the Jaguars be able to contain RB Christian McCaffrey?
Christian McCaffrey has enjoyed a career revival since landing with the 49ers via trade last year. Heading into Week 10, he leads the NFL with 652 yards. However, he's averaged 3.3 yards per carry the last three games and hasn't reached the 100-yard mark.
The Jaguars tend to play a lot of base defense in order to take away the run and force opposing teams to beat them through the air. This formula might not work against San Francisco though, as McCaffrey can line up all over the field and is a pass-catching threat.
Furthermore, wide receiver Deebo Samuel is back and ready to go after missing time with a shoulder fracture. His presence won't allow the Jags to stack up the box, which could in turn help McCaffrey find less loaded fronts at the line of scrimmage.
The Jaguars, for their part, have excelled at stopping the run this season, giving up just 3.6 yards per carry. The trend will need to continue in Week 10 if they don't want the game to get out of control.