Last week was apparently groundhog day for the Jaguars during their 20-9 loss to the Panthers. They out-gained the Panthers in yardage, but could never capitalize. It sounds very familiar to the Miami game last year at EverBank, where they also out-gained and possibly outplayed them, but mistakes including two pick sixes doomed the outcome.
This year’s matchup is a little different than last year’s, however. The Dolphins are supposed to be new and improved, but it didn’t show much after a close win last week over the hapless Redskins. This Sunday, each team will be looking to get closer to their optimistic expectations for the season.
Rookie RB T.J. Yeldon was one of the better looking players on offense in week one. He had 12 carries for 52 yards and a few catches. He’ll get even more work this week, as they ease him into the offense —though he’ll have to face off against one of the better defensive fronts, on paper at least. Led by Ndamukong Suh and Cameron Wake, the Dolphins front seven is one of the league’s most talented. However, last week, it allowed Redskin’s RB Alfred Morris to run for 120-plus yards. It’ll be a big matchup to see if the Jaguars can get a steady running game against their defense.
The Dolphin’s secondary is one of the better in the NFL, led by Brent Grimes, who is one of the best corners. Their linebackers aren’t as good as Carolina’s, so Bortles and the offense should be able to use the tight ends a bit more, after just two targets in week one (none to Mercedes Lewis). Allen Robinson will probably be picked up by Grimes, but getting him going will be key. If Marquis Lee can play after missing over a month with a hamstring injury, that’ll be an added bonus. Cameron Wake will likely line up against Jag’s backup left tackle Sam Young, due to a Luke Joeckel injury. They can’t let him have a big day.
Miami had a poor offensive showing in last weekend, with just one touchdown coming from that unit. Despite that, they still may be much improved, as speculated during the offseason. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill is a type of dual threat, with decent speed. The Jags shouldn’t have much trouble stopping the run with Miller and a trio of linebackers that looked good last week. We’ll see if Tannehill can get any of his new targets better invloved, TE Jordan Cameron. The defense was able to get decent pressure on Cam Newton last week, even though he escaped a few times, but this week, it should be easier to take the QB down once they get there.
I think both teams will look much better than their week one showings, but the Dolphins will grind out a close game. Prediction: Dolphins 27 Jags 20.