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 Seattle Seahawks at EverBank Field.
Rick Ballou, Jaguars sideline reporter
The Jaguars will win if:They have the same success passing as last week. In a game in which it feels like the team with the most rushing yards will win, the Jags need balance and for quarterback Blake Bortles and the wide receivers to have a big game.
The Seahawks will win if: They can get to Bortles. The Jags have been beaten up on the offensive line. Even though Seattle is missing three Pro Bowlers off its defense, if end Michael Bennett and company can get to Bortles, Seattle will win.
As Ballou sees it:Jaguars win, 17-14. This is just another game for Seattle; for the Jaguars, it's arguably the biggest home game in over 10 years.
Tony Boselli,Jaguars analyst and former Jaguars left tackle
The Jaguars will win if: They* can limit the off-schedule play of Russell Wilson. The Jaguars' defense should have its way with the Seahawks, but the one wild card is Wilson. There is no one in the NFL that can make something out of nothing better than Wilson*
The Seahawks will win if: The Jaguars get overwhelmed by the front seven of the Seahawks. The Legion of Boom might not be intact, but Bobby Wagner and Michael Bennett are still a handful. If they can take away the run and make the Jaguars pass happy we could see a bunch of turnovers.
As Tony Boselli sees it: The Jaguars get their best win of the year in front of a great crowd. The run game we saw the first half of the year will be back and defense will be too much for Wilson to overcome. 21-13 JAGS.
Frank Frangie, Radio Voice of the Jaguars
The Jaguars will win if:They can generate some early offense and play from ahead. That will get the crowd, which should be significant, involved early. That could really help the cause. The Jaguars also must contain Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson when plays break down; that is when he is at his best.
The Seahawks will win if:They stuff the run and force the Jags to throw off schedule. Their mission against Jacksonville will be to win first down. Make the Jags throw in difficult situations. Seattle also has to run some, perhaps with the emerging Mike Davis.
As Frangie sees it:This is a gigantic game that has generated buzz all over town. It feels like a playoff game. It will be the toughest remaining game for Jacksonville. The Jags don't necessarily match up well with the Seahawks, who play defense like the Jags do. It won't be easy. But if Jacksonville can get a lead, get the crowd involved, it could be the biggest victory in a long time.
Jeff Lageman, Jaguars analyst and former Jaguars defensive end
The Jaguars will win if:Their No. 1-rated defense controls Wilson. No secret here. Wilson is 85.7 percent of the Seahawks' offense, which will break an NFL record if he finishes the season above 81.8 percent. He is their leading rusher with 432 yards and challenging in the passing game. He can function in the pocket or out of the pocket and is excellent at making "off-schedule" plays.
The Seahawks will win if: Their defense can continue to play at the level it did against the Eagles Sunday night and win the turnover battle. Seattle is 5-0 on the season when winning the turnover battle. The Seahawks are missing some key pieces to their defense, but have many keys on their ring of defense. Linebackers Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright, ends Michael Bennett and Frank Clark, safety Earl Thomas, and defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson are really good.
As Lageman sees it:This will be the Jaguars' most challenging game of the season against an opponent that has been there and done that when it comes to "big" games. December games are all big for teams making a playoff push; Wilson and the Seahawks are 20-5 in regular season games in December and January. The Jaguars' defense will show they are worthy of wearing that No. 1 and force Wilson into making just enough mistakes.
Brent Martineau, Action Sports Jax Sports Director
The Jaguars will win if:Bortles can deliver in what I think is the biggest game of his four-year career. He is coming off one of the best games of his career and now has a chance to help the Jaguars make a statement victory. Seattle is good on defense, especially against the run – and the Jaguars' run game is struggling lately. That means Bortles must come up big.
The Seahawks will win if: They look like the Seattle team we all know from the last five years. The 'Hawks know how to play winning football and December football as much as anyone in the NFL. Wilson is having an MVP-like season and this will be just another game for him.
As Martineau sees it:I think the Jaguars' can get this one. I've liked this game on the Jaguars' schedule for a long time and I think they will be as ready for the big stage as they have been for any game this season. As this franchise continues to turn around, moments like these are bigger than one game and the Jags have the chance to become a darling of the NFL on Sunday.
John Oehser, jaguars.com senior writer
The Jaguars will win if:Bortles and the Jaguars' receivers can make plays in the passing game. The Seahawks are very good against the run, and the Jaguars seem unlikely to break out of their recent run struggles Sunday. There will be opportunities in the passing game and if Bortles can hit two passes of 30-plus yards that could be enough offense in a defensive-oriented game.
The Seahawks will win if:Wilson's legs define the game. Wilson has developed as a pocket passer in recent seasons, but it's his escapability and mobility that could be the difference. The Jaguars should stop the run and they should be able to pressure Wilson. If he gives them fits and creates too many first downs by scrambling, that could push the game in Seattle's favor.
As Oehser sees it:This is a tough one to call. The guess here is the Jaguars' defense will play well and that the offense will get enough points to keep this game tight. But Seattle's experience in games of this size and Wilson's clutch ability could be too much to overcome.
Brian Sexton, jaguars.com senior correspondent
The Jaguars will win if:If Bortles is smart and tough. The Seahawks are so much better than the Colts it isn't even a fair comparison. The Seahawks will bring the pressure off the edge so fast it will make your head spin; their secondary isn't the Legion of Boom any longer, but Thomas can wreck your game plan from the middle of the field. Bortles was lights out last week and needs to be smart with the ball, hang tough in the pocket and wait for routes to develop. If he is, it should set up the running game to at least help manage an excellent Seahawks front.
The Seahawks will win if:They can make Bortles make bad decisions. Bortles famously tried to give it away in the final two minutes against the Chargers; you can be sure if that happens on Sunday, the Seahawks will close the door. Few teams create as much havoc or cause as many problems for opponents as Seattle even without safety Kam Chancellor and cornerback Richard Sherman. They're strong enough up front to take chances and bring pressure from different spots, which means if Bortles isn't smart and tough the Seahawks are in control.
As Sexton sees it:I don't have any idea! That's what makes this game so much fun. You have an experienced, championship team with an electrifying quarterback – but without its personality on defense – against the NFL's next great defense on its turf with heavy playoff consequences for both teams. Can the Jaguars handle Wilson better than the Cardinals or Eagles have the last few weeks? Can the Seahawks' rebuilt offensive line handle everything the Jaguars' incredibly talented defense can throw at them? Can Bortles put together back to back games where he controls the action from the pocket? I don't want to guess; I want to watch. One thing I do know is the crowd will be ready to explode, so if the Jaguars start fast things could get crazy and in a very good way.
J.P. Shadrick, jaguars.com reporter/editor
The Jaguars will win if:They can sustain drives like they did last week. The Jaguars had touchdown drives of 80, 75 and 67 yards last Sunday in the victory over the Colts. The Jags were efficient on third downs and found success in the passing game. That was against a Colts defense without starting talent on the field, and this is a Seahawks defense with much better talent – even though some of the front-line guys are sidelined.
The Seahawks will win if: Wilson runs wild. There's not really a number for this, but if he gets out of the pocket, he's a headache all day long. Keep him contained and put him on the ground.
As Shadrick sees it:Two 8-4 teams playing at EverBank Field in December … this is what the NFL is all about. Can the Jaguars play up to the hype? The last meeting between the franchises in 2013 is a long time ago in more ways than one. This Jaguars team will not back down from anyone, including a perennial NFC powerhouse. You think the hype is big now for the Jags? Wait until they win this game and move to 9-4.