The bye week was good to the Jaguars as dysfunction rained down upon the AFC South. At 2 and 5, they are just a half a game short of the division lead, but they will have to overcome themselves before any real playoff talk could even be considered.
This week, they face off with the New York Jets (4-3), who are coming in losers of three straight, including a blowout last week in Oakland. Before getting throttled last week, the defense was first against the run and one of the leaders in sacks. They should be expected to blitz frequently, and they have the secondary to back it up.
Jet’s QB Ryan Fitzpatrick was knocked out of that game with torn thumb ligaments in his non-throwing hand, but will start this Sunday. Their star receiver Brandon Marshall missed practice this week and his questionable with a toe and ankle injury. The Jets are an old-school team, with a power-running game and tough defense. They blitz over half of their plays, so keeping Bortles off the ground might determine the outcome of the game. The Jags can’t let Chris Ivory, who’s had a good year, run all over them. That would only open up a passing game and make things easier on the injured Fitzpatrick. However, the Jag’s defense should be the healthiest it’s been all season.
The offense will still be without WR Rashad Greene for a couple more weeks. Marquise Lee and Zane Beadles won’t play either, but everyone else should be there. T.J. Yeldon is coming off his best game, but now has to face a stingy defense. Last week, Raider’s running back Latavius Murray rushed for over 100 yards, so Yeldon’s production will be key here. As will getting Julius Thomas more involved than he was in London (where he was hampered by a groin injury). We’ll see if Darrell Revis will guard Allen Robinson wherever he lines up, though he could be flipping between each of the Allen’s throughout the game. Antonio Cromartie is the corner opposite of him and very capable himself, so each of the Allen’s will have a big matchup regardless.
It’s a tough matchup against a legitimate playoff contender (possibly the best team they’ll face the rest of the season). But the injury to Fitzpatrick could play a big factor, and they were shredded by the Raiders last week, showing their weaknesses. In that game, Oakland QB Derrick Carr threw for over 220 yards and had two touchdowns facing a Jet’s blitz. Him throwing over the top opened things up for the running game. Bortles will have to be great in the face of many blitzes for the Jags to win this game.
Prediction: Jets 24 | Jags 20