Last year, the Jacksonville Jaguars played a game on October 2 at their second home in London, being Wembley Stadium. While London is known for holding a fair number of Jaguars fans, due to the team’s recurring visit across the pond, the flight and entire week sets for a grueling schedule for the players. But against an Andrew Luck led Indianapolis Colts, the Jaguars were still able to come away with a 30-27 victory, one of their best performances on the season. This year, however, the Jags will be “hosting” the Baltimore Ravens. Despite the questions on offense, this Ravens defense has looked highly impressive through the first two games of the season. After a disappointing outing in Jacksonville in Week 2, what should we expect from this team on Sunday?
Let’s first point out the obvious. The Jaguars defense will not be as abysmal as they were against the Tennessee Titans. To be fair, the Titans do boast one of the better offensive line units in the NFL. That’s still no excuse as to how they played so poorly, especially in the second half. With the talented players across Jacksonville’s defense, I wouldn’t expect two awful performances back to back. The Ravens defense will also be strong, so look for whichever unit has the better day to lead their team to a Week 3 win.
As for the Jaguars offense, wide receivers Allen Hurns and Marqise Lee should lead the way, depending on how well their quarterback can get them the ball. Against this Ravens defense, I wouldn’t expect Blake Bortles to have a huge day. So what should be expected from rookie running back Leonard Fournette? After a debut, 100-yard rushing victory, Fournette still managed to get some productive runs against the Titans, adding another touchdown. So far, Fournette has looked every part of the number four overall pick in the NFL Draft. He’s the running back the Jaguars organization was hoping they found, making an immediate impact at the professional level. With this being said, the Baltimore Ravens defense has played very well against the run. Both the Bengals and Browns used two different rushers, with none of them collecting a total of 50 yards on the ground. But Leonard Fournette looks special. Don’t expect a huge day from him, but he will always have potential to breakaway a big run. And a goal-line rushing touchdown is far more probably for Jacksonville than a red zone passing touchdown.
This brings us back to the biggest issue for the Jaguars, which is at quarterback. The Jaguars beat the Texans in Week 1 largely because Blake Bortles made zero mistakes and played conservatively under center. Against the Titans, Bortles made multiple mistakes, including two interceptions and a fumble. Blake Bortles is not a very good quarterback, plain and simple. But if he can avoid making these mistakes, the Jaguars will play some close games into the fourth quarter this season. The run game and defense need to carry this team to a successful season. But this Ravens defense has looked elite so far in 2017. It would be a smart bet to assume that Blake Bortles doesn’t leave this game without making any mistakes, like his performance against the Texans.
At the end of the day, it comes down to whether the run game and defense can make up for whatever errors end up being made by the quarterback. It’s very possible that the Jaguars will have the momentum at Wembley Stadium and will be able to use that momentum to propel them to victory. But don’t expect the Jaguars to score a ton of points against this potent Ravens defense. Terrell Suggs will for sure be keeping his eyes on Blake Bortles all game long.
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