The Jaguars go into next Sunday’s matchup with the Ravens (2 and 6) as 6.5-point underdogs. Most of that is based off reputation, with them being the Ravens. It’s nowhere near the same team as we’ve seen the last couple of seasons. They are without their two emotional leaders, Steve Smith and Terrell Suggs, each with torn achilles. Their secondary is one of the worst in the NFL and has been shredded week after week. All that being said, they haven’t lost a game by more than one possession and Joe Flacco can keep them in it.
One of the keys to this game will be the health of Allen Hurns. Both of the Allen’s torched the Jet’s secondary, but Hurns was hurt on the last play. He is one of the team’s tougher players, and they will need him to fully exploit a shoddy Raven’s defense. Yeldon should get more room than last week and the blitz won’t be as bad. Julius Thomas is starting to concern some pundits and fans with his lack of production. He’s still opening up the offense by running more routes than Lewis did, but he does need to get more involved. The Ravens have been OK against TE’s, but if each of the Allen’s play, it could open him up. We’ll see if Marquis Lee goes. Walters has been as solid as you can get as the third receiver, but Lee’s raw speed is still something this offense has been missing.
Elvis Dumervil hasn’t had a big game in 2015 yet, and hopefully he won’t join the long list of players who finally do against Jacksonville. He was a big part of the 2014 game in Baltimore, where Bortles got sacked eight times. The line is obviously much better, as is Blake. Former Jag Justin Forsett hasn’t been as succesful as he was running the ball in 2014 for them and the Jags just set a record for smallest amount of yards on 23 carries against the Jet’s Chris Ivory. If they are able to shut down the run again, led by the healthier-every-week Sen’derrick Marks, it’s going to put pressure on Flacco and his sub-par receiving core.
The Jags continue to get close against good teams. I think they finally finish on the road against a depleted Baltimore team.
Prediction: Jaguars 31 — Ravens 27