With the Jacksonville Jaguars slated to take on the struggling New York Jets at home on Sunday, the JaguarMaven staff has come together to bring you the predictions on the game's most important storylines of Sunday's game.
From Gardner Minshew, to the defense to the wide receivers, how do we think Sunday will play out?
1. The Jaguars' defensive scheme could not be more different than the scheme New England used to attack the New York Jets offense. Do you think they still have some success against the Jets and Darnold anyways?
John Shipley: I think Jacksonville’s defense will have a strong day against New York’s offense largely because the Jets’ offensive line is full of reserve players who have been thrust into starting roles due to injuries.
The Jaguars aren’t afraid to blitz on defense, but they rarely run the Cover 0 blitzes that the Jets saw from New England on Monday. Despite that, I think Jacksonville is just too talented on defense for the Jets.
Andrew DiCecco: I think so. The Jets boast perhaps the most porous offensive line in the NFL at the moment, so much so that it appears they’ve broken their talented young signal-caller, as evidenced by the “seeing ghosts” comment on Monday Night Football.
If starter Kelvin Beachum is out for Sunday, look for rookie Chuma Edoga to get the start at left tackle once again, with Brandon Shell at right tackle. Oddly enough, their best performer might be backup guard Alex Lewis – who is filling in for Kelechi Osemele.
Jacksonville has too much talent along the defensive line for Darnold & Co. to get anything going. Josh Allen collects two sacks in this one.
Trevan Pixley: I think as long as Todd Wash watched film from the New England game the defense will try its best to copy New England's defensive scheme from Monday night. They need to bring pressure and play man coverage.
Brandon Eisenman: Yes, the Jaguars’ defense will have success against the Jets and Sam Darnold. New York’s offense is broken. Jacksonville will take advantage of that on Sunday.
2. Le'Veon Bell has been dangerous with the ball in his hands this season even if the production doesn't reflect it. How big of a day do you think he has against a Jacksonville defense that will be missing several linebackers on Sunday?
John Shipley: Jacksonville is going to start either Malcolm Smith or Austin Calitro at weakside linebacker this Sunday due to their numerous injuries at linebacker. Head coach Doug Marrone said Friday the team is still sorting out exactly what they want to do at the position for Sunday, which should be music to Bell’s ears.
Jacksonville has been up and down vs. the run this season, stifling some running games (see Cincinnati game), while also being bludgeoned by opposing running games at times (see Carolina game). Overall, I think the Jaguars' lack of healthy linebackers means a big day for Bell.
Andrew DiCecco: Le’Veon is always going to get his. He is a borderline generational talent that garners 25-30 touches a game on a stagnant Jets offense. Teams have figured out how to play the Jets, and Bell has really yet to go off in any game. The atrocious offensive line play really limits what Adam Gase can do schematically.
Trevan Pixley: I think Bell is going to be the main focus of the Jaguars defense. The lack of linebackers for the Jaguars will make it tough, but hopefully, the new guys step up. I think that Bell will still manage to put up 60 70 yards. The Jags just need to do their best to keep him out of the endzone.
Brandon Eisenman: I can see Bell rushing for at least 150 yards against the Jaguars, and maybe two touchdowns. With a few linebackers out, the Jaguars are going to be hurting defensively. I think Bell can break out from the backfield and have a solid game.
3. Who has the advantage on Sunday: The Jaguars wide receivers or the Jets defensive backs?
John Shipley: I think Jamal Adams is easily one of the best safeties in the NFL, but the cupboard is a bit bare behind him. Trumaine Johnson has been burned in coverage consistently since signing with the Jets, and it is not like they have many cornerbacks, if any, who are clearly better than the struggling Johnson right now.
Dede Westbrook is fighting through a tough shoulder injury but I think the Jaguars have the advantage here almost solely because DJ Chark should be able to dominate whoever he draws in coverage.
Andrew DiCecco: Jaguars wide receivers, and it’s not even close. Chark, Westbrook, Conley, Cole – pick your poison. They all have a chance to put up some numbers if Minshew has enough time to get the ball out.
Trumaine Johnson is being paid like a top cornerback ($72.5M), but plays as if he’s one of the worst cornerbacks. He doesn’t seem to trust his technique and has been benched on multiple occasions this season. Darryl Roberts, on the other side, has been a disaster as well. Their two best cornerbacks are Nate Hairston and Brian Poole, but they too have had their lapses on the backend.
Trevan Pixley: Jaguars receivers. I think after last week it proved the Jaguars have some depth at that position. Last week was the first week where all of the wideouts contributed and made plays. It couldn't have come at a better time.
Brandon Eisenman: Jacksonville’s receivers have an advantage in this game. DJ Chark, Dede Westbrook, all the other receivers are so talented. With as much talent as this receiving group has, they have a big advantage against the Jets’ defense.
4. Which player do you think the Jaguars need to have a big game the most to win on Sunday?
John Shipley: I am going to go with Myles Jack. With so many other linebackers injured, Jack will be the only Jaguars linebacker playing on Sunday who has been a contributor on defense in 2019. He will be badly needed to stop Bell and limit Darnold, and the Jaguars simply don't have many reinforcements if he doesn't perform.
Andrew DiCecco: For me, it’s Gardner Minshew in this one. All he needs to do is play smart football, eliminate turnovers and take what the Jets defense gives him and the Jaguars win. The only way I see them losing is if Minshew reverts to the player he was against Carolina and the Saints. The Jets defense is a decent bunch, led by Gregg Williams, that offers many different looks – so the offense can’t afford to sleepwalk through this one.
Trevan Pixley: I think it's all on the linebackers. They're all new and haven't been on the team. Their success in the run defense is going to determine how well this game is going to go for the Jaguars.
Brandon Eisenman: Leonard Fournette needs another big game. He’s played solid the past few weeks, and another great outing here could take the pressure off of Gardner Minshew to open up the passing game.
5. Final score prediction, and why?
John Shipley: I am going to go 20-9, Jaguars. I think this is going to be a sloppy, yet physical game with heavy dosages of Bell and Leonard Fournette, with neither offense really lighting things up.
Andrew DiCecco: I’ll say 24-13, Jaguars. I think this is the week the offense starts firing on all cylinders. Expect a big week from Dede Westbrook, who should draw Darryl Roberts in coverage.
Trevan Pixley: 24-13, Jaguars win. If we learned one thing from the Bengals game, it is the Jaguars don't really blow teams out of the water. So I think a 24-13 score is a very realistic prediction, especially with the linebackers injuries.
Brandon Eisenman: Jaguars win 34-17. Jacksonville is much more talented all around, but specifically on offense. I think Fournette has a solid outing in the backfield and Minshew will have a good production day in the passing attack.