Jacksonville Is On Center Stage As They Travel To MetLife Stadium To Face The Giants
East Rutherford, NJ — Week one of the NFL is one of the most exciting times of the year. Everyone has hope if you win you’re undefeated, and if you lose, it’s just week one.
However, week one for the Jacksonville Jaguars means more as they prepare for the New York Football Giants. The Jags made noise last year expectedly going 10-6. However, it was more about whom they beat; NFL Blue Bloods such as the Baltimore Ravens, Seattle Seahawks, and the Pittsburgh Steelers — twice.
In the AFC Championship Game, Jacksonville had a ten-point lead and ten minutes away from a trip to the Super Bowl before the New England Patriots snatched their dreams from their grasp.
The Jags are on a mission to prove that last year was no fluke nor a one-hit wonder. They have their work cut out for them due to a first-place schedule, and the return of AFC South quarterbacks Andrew Luck and Deshaun Watson. It begins Sunday afternoon at 1 pm on Fox.
New Look Giants
After a dismal 3-13 season in 2017, the Giants had a chance to draft the heir to quarterback Eli Manning who’s well into the back nine. However, they chose to go with running back Saquon Barkley out of Penn State. Due to that pick, The Giants are looking to win now, opposed to looking towards the future.
The Giants fired head coach Ben McAdoo and brought in offensive wizard Pat Shurmur. Under Shurmur, New York will be much more explosive in 2018 with the addition of Barkley and Odell Beckham Jr. coming back from injury.
Jacksonville All In With Bortles
This time last year Jacksonville had serious concerns about Blake Bortles’ future as the starter. At the end of the 2017 season, the Jags had a decision to make with Bortles coming off his best year in the NFL. Also, Bortles lead the Jaguars to two playoff victories in the same year for the first time since 1999. Jacksonville rewarded Bortles with a new $54 million contract, keeping him in Duval for the next 2-3 years.
Sunday will be intriguing as Bortles will have a cast of predominantly young receivers. Due to the losses of Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns to free agency, and Marquise Lee to a knee injury Jacksonville will be very inexperienced at the position. Bortles will have an opportunity to prove his detractors right or wrong in week one on the road. Can Bortles be Tom Brady-esque by making the players around him better?
Matchups To Watch
OBJ vs. Jalen Ramsey: The most intriguing individual matchup of the weekend features the best cornerback in the NFL and highest paid receiver in the history of the NFL. Jacksonville plays a lot of zone but when they decide to man up, look to Ramsey to follow Beckham around the field. Beckham will try to use his fast-twitch ability to separate while Ramsey love to use his long arms to dictate where he wants receivers to go. This will be fun!
The Trenches: The battles between big men will directly correlate to winning and losing. Jacksonville has one the top defensive lines in the NFL while the Giants have revamped offensive line who was horrible in 2017. On the other side, Jacksonville ran the ball more than anyone in the league in 2017. The addition of guard Andrew Norwell means they want more of that. New York a has good defensive line who underperformed in 2017.
The X-Factor: Third-down conversions will be crucial in Sunday’s matchup. Being able to sustain drives and keeping the opposing defense on the field will prove valuable. Last season Jacksonville ranked 20th in third-down conversions; the Giants ranked 30th. On the other side of the ball, getting off the field due to third down stops will directly impact the winner. In 2017 the Jags were fourth in third-down defense; the Giants were 22nd in third-down defense.
Prediction: Jacksonville 21 – New York 17