Jacksonville Looks For Their Second Straight Win As The Rams Travel To EverBank Field
Jacksonville, FLA — The Jacksonville Jaguars (3-2) host the Los Angeles Rams (3-2) Sunday afternoon at 4:05 pm on Fox. Coming off a statement win at Pittsburgh last week, the Jags seek their first true home win of the season. Jacksonville has been the worst home team in the NFL since the start of the 2012 season, hence, the 9-28 record.
Sunday’s matchup features two of the league’s most dynamic runners, Jags running back Leonard Fournette and Rams running back Todd Gurley.
The Rams bring their top five passing offense and scoring offense to EverBank Field. They will face the best defense Jacksonville as ever had.
Can the Jaguars take advantage of a west coast team traveling east? When west coast teams travel more than two time zones, they tend to play subpar as a result.
Run Game Strong
Due to another top ten draft pick, Jacksonville found the solution to their running game woes in the 2017 NFL draft, insert Fournette. The rookie is coming off his best performance in Pittsburgh last week with 181 yards on the ground. The former LSU running back is projected for 1,491 yards rushing and 16 rushing touchdowns at this rate. Also, Fournette is second in the NFL in rushing, behind fellow rookie Kareem Hunt, from the Kansas City Chiefs.
However, the Jaguars offense is solely dependent on Fournette. Most of all, his success carries the Jags offense with injuries to the offensive line and wide receiver position. Jacksonville should have some running lanes, due to the Rams 27th ranked run defense, giving up 133.6 yards per game.
Gain An Early Lead
All of Jacksonville’s wins have come by way of double-digit blowouts this season. Their recipe for success has been getting an early lead and limiting quarterback Blake Bortles from having to throw in volume. When Jacksonville wins, Bortles has 22 attempts a game. When the Jags lose Bortles has 34.5 attempts per game.
The Jaguars lead the NFL in turnovers with ten interceptions and five fumble recoveries. Jacksonville has scored 74 points off turnovers which has contributed to their early leads. The Rams have committed a total of ten turnovers thus far in five games. Jacksonville will have continued the trend of taking the ball away to set the tone, securing their first home win of the season.
Slow Down The Rams Offense
The Los Angeles Rams traded up and drafted quarterback Jared Goff in the 2016 NFL draft. Goff didn’t look like a number one overall draft pick; in nine games some were calling him a bust already. New Head Coach Sean McVey has brought stability, balance, and potency to Los Angeles. The Rams will try to run the ball early to set up the play action pass. Jacksonville will have to key on the Rams’ crossing routes on third down.
The Rams will test the Jaguars through the air and on the ground on Sunday. Los Angeles ranks fifth in total offense (382 yds/gm), fifth in passing attack (271.2 yds/gm), second in points per game (30.4), and running back Gurley is third in the league in rushing. McVey, who also calls the plays will look to find Gurley in the passing game as well. As a result, the Jags must key on Fournette on every down.
This Jacksonville defense is the best defense the team has ever fielded. Through great drafting and key free agent acquisitions, the Jags are a force and can change the game at any moment.
Jacksonville has a stout in the secondary with ten interceptions and defensive line harassing quarterbacks with a league-leading 20 sacks. The Rams passing success is scheme driven, with Goff spreading the ball around; six rams players have over 100 yards receiving. There is no real number one receiver, Gurley is the second leading receiver, and newly acquired wideout Sammy Watkins is still finding his way.
Goff has only been sacked six times this season with three interceptions. The Jags will have to continue their success in getting to the quarterback four times a game. Jacksonville cornerbacks A.J Bouye and Jalen Ramsey need to maintain their excellent play in the backend, as the Rams will look to go up-tempo for most of the game.
Rams defensive linemen Aaron Donald has been regarded as one of the top defensive linemen in the NFL. Donald is extremely violent in trying to get to the quarterback. The Rams play the All-Pro inside and outside to create different looks for opposing offenses. Although Donald may only have one sack this season, he creates havoc pressuring opposing quarterbacks consistently.
Furthermore, Jacksonville will have to be aware of Donald’s whereabouts on every play. Most importantly, when he lines up inside with Jags’ starting center Brandon Linder is out for the second straight week. The interior of the Jaguars offensive line will have to come together and open up some holes for Fornette. Especially relevant, Bortles must identify Donald on third and long situations, getting the ball out quickly and not taking unnecessary sacks.
The Jacksonville defense will keep the Rams in check, creating turnovers and limiting Goff to an average day. Fournette will have some room to run against the Rams defense. However, with Jacksonville being so dependent on the rookie; they should expect stacked boxes all game long. In conclusion, the Jags will grind out their first win at EverBank field on Sunday.
Jacksonville 27 – Los Angeles 23