JACKSONVILLE – Each Saturday during the 2017 season, eight Jaguars experts – Rick Ballou, Tony Boselli, Frank Frangie, Jeff Lageman, Brent Martineau, John Oehser, Brian Sexton and J.P. Shadrick – will break down the following day's Jaguars matchup.
Up this week:
The Los Angeles Rams at EverBank Field in Jacksonville.
Rick Ballou, Jaguars Sideline Reporter
The Jaguars will win if:They continue to run the ball. Jacksonville averages more rushing yards than passing per game. Some would say this is dangerous throughout the course of the season, but it's just what the Jaguars need against the Rams.
The Rams will win if:They get running back Todd Gurley going. He was a non-factor in last week's loss to Seattle. The Jags caused five turnovers at Pittsburgh, and did a solid job against the run. They're still ranked 31st in rushing defense.
As Ballou sees it:A* *24-20 Jags victory. The pass defense will have a big day and pick off Rams quarterback Jared Goff twice. Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette will rush for more than 100 yards.
Tony Boselli, Jaguars analyst and former Jaguars left tackle
The Jaguars will win if:They play great defense, run the ball and win the turnover battle; that formula hasn't changed. But as the season moves forward, they are going have to get more production from quarterback Blake Bortles, the receivers and the passing game. They are 30th in the NFL averaging just over 159 passing; to win this week they need to surpass the 200-yard passing mark and find more balance. A key: whether or not they can control defensive tackle Aaron Donald and give Bortles time to look down the field.
The Rams will win if:They stop the run. After five games everyone in the NFL knows what teams want to do and the tendencies they have. Rams defensive coordinator Wade Philips understands the Jaguars want to run. He will stack the box to make Fournette and the running game ineffective, creating obvious passing situations. If the Rams can get a two-possession lead and force the Jaguars to play catch-up, they will have a huge advantage.
As Boselli sees it:This will be a great test for the Jaguars defensively facing an offense that averages over 30 points a game (second in the NFL). I believe they are up to the task and will force three turnovers, giving the Jaguars offensive a couple of short fields. This will be Bortles' best game of the season and the Jaguars will win 24-21.
Frank Frangie, Radio Voice of the Jaguars
The Jaguars will win if:If they do what they have been doing -- keep covering, make a young quarterback hold the ball. Goff hasn't seen this very often in his NFL career … the type of coverage he will see, the ferocity of the rush. Make life miserable for Goff.
The Rams will win if:If they run it with Gurley, and Goff gets the ball out quickly. The Rams also have to overcome a physical game with Seattle this past Sunday – and manage the first leg of a long road trip that includes Jacksonville then London.
As Frangie sees it:The Jaguars are favored and should be. They are coming off a significant victory, are at home and playing a team dealing with difficult travel circumstances.
Jeff Lageman, Jaguars analyst and former Jaguars defensive end
The Jaguars will win if:They can control Gurley with a similar game plan as last week against the Steelers. Gurley is a complete back, effective in both the running and passing game, and he's the main reason they are scoring 30 points a game. Put all the pressure on Goff, the young – and highly drafted – quarterback.
The Rams will win if:They can win the turnover battle against a Jaguars team that has been "living the dream" in the turnover world with 15 takeaways. The Rams have all been in the even or plus side of turnover differential in all three of their victories. Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald must be blocked as he is a turnover creator.
As Lageman sees it:The Jaguars offensively will have balance similar to their performance against Baltimore. A strong desire will guide this Jaguars team to a victory – a desire to find consistency, a desire to create separation in the AFC South and a desire to win at the 'Bank.
Brent Martineau, Action Sports Jax Sports Director
The Jaguars will win if:Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles can make three important plays in the passing game. The Rams are going to load up on the run and do everything they can to stop what happened for the Jaguars in Pittsburgh this past Sunday. Bortles will have to pass more than once in the second half and prove he can win a close game.
The Rams will win if:They slow down – not stop – the Jaguars' running game and hold onto the football. This should be a Todd Gurley game for the Rams and they shouldn't put too much on the arm of Goff against the NFL's top pass defense.
As Martineau sees it:This is an important game for the Jaguars to show up and show out in front of the home fans. This town is excited about the potential of this defense and star running back; now they just wonder if this team can win two in a row and win at home. I think they get it done in front of a frenzied fourth-quarter crowd at the 'Bank.
John Oehser, jaguars.com senior writer
The Jaguars will win if:They can run and limit Gurley. Until the Jaguars do something to the contrary, their offense will be defined by Fournette and to a lesser degree running back Chris Ivory. They lead the NFL in rushing and got to first place in the AFC South imposing their will. If the Rams can't stop that – and if Gurley can't produce 100 yards total offense – it's hard to see the Jaguars losing.
The Rams will win if:They protect the ball. The Jaguars lead the NFL in takeaways with 15; the Rams have committed the fourth-most takeaways with 10. If the Jaguars get an early takeaway this will be a touch game for the Rams, particularly if the Jaguars turn that Rams mistake into early points,
As Oehser sees it:This is a tricky test for the Jaguars. They're playing well defensively, but their offense lacks balance. And the Rams are a team that has confidence after road victories over Dallas and San Francisco. Still, the Jaguars' defense appears to be the best unit in this game. The guess here is they force enough Rams mistakes to stay alone in first place in the AFC South.
Brian Sexton, jaguars.com senior correspondent
The Jaguars will win if:The NFL's best secondary imposes its will on Goff and the Rams as effectively as it did to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers. Cornerbacks Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye and safeties Tashaun Gipson and Barry Church have combined for eight interceptions this season; they took the game over last week in Pittsburgh. If they can do it to a hot – but still-largely-unproven – quarterback Sunday, the Jags will win.
The Rams will win if:They prevent Fournette from going off in consecutive weeks. It just feels as if Fournette exploded into his own last week against the powerful Steelers defense, and there is no denying the Jaguars' offense now goes through him. Fournette's teammates talked about his style being their personality his week, being who they are. If you take that away, you win.
As Sexton sees it:The third time is a charm for the Jaguars. They whiffed at home against Tennessee in Week 2 after blasting the Texans in Week 1. They narrowly missed beating the Jets in Week 4 after routing the Ravens in London in Week 3. Now, a week after throttling the Steelers, they know the spotlight is on their team – and they feel the need to prove it, at home, against a team playing on the east coast in the heat after a long trip from California. I think this is the game that opens up a world of possibilities for the rest of the Jaguars' season.
J.P. Shadrick, jaguars.com reporter/editor
The Jaguars will win if:The defense finds an answer for Gurley. Yes, he's the leading rusher for the Rams, but he is also the leading receiver. Take him away and good luck throwing elsewhere against this Jaguars secondary right now, Goff.
The Rams will win if:They outrush the Jaguars and force a couple of takeaways. This Jaguars offense ran the ball in the fourth quarter against a strong defense in Pittsburgh that knew it was coming. If the Rams find something offensively to move the ball and steal a couple of possessions, the Jags will be away from their strengths.
As Shadrick sees it:This feels like the beginning of a trend for the Jaguars. They made a statement Sunday in Pittsburgh, and a lot of people saw the Jaguars for the first time in a long time. The Rams are flying cross-country, but their minds could be on the practices in Jacksonville next week ahead of their trip to London in Week 7. The Jaguars are in first place; act like it. Defend the 'Bank, and start stacking up victories.