JACKSONVILLE – Each Saturday during the 2018 season, nine Jaguars experts – Rick Ballou, Tony Boselli, Frank Frangie, Jeff Lageman, Brent Martineau, John Oehser, Brian Sexton, J.P. Shadrick and Ashlyn Sullivan – will break down the following day's Jaguars matchup.
Up this week:
The Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.
Rick Ballou, Jaguars sideline reporter
1.The Jaguars will win: If they score on defense. The splash plays are missing this year defensively for Jacksonville. The Dolphins are beat up at running back, so they'll have to pass to move the chains. If the Jags can force some turnovers and take one back for a touchdown, they can pull off the upset. Jacksonville should also be able to create pressure; the Dolphins allowed nine sacks a week ago.
2.The Dolphins will win if: They make the Jaguars one dimensional. Jacksonville has scored one touchdown in 31 drives since the quarterback Cody Kessler/play-caller Scott Milanovich combination has taken over. Miami will do its best to take away the run, even though the Dolphins have struggled to do that this year. The Jaguars' running game has been suspect and Miami will do its best not to allow it to get going.
3.As Ballou see it: Miami, 20-9. The Dolphins were embarrassed last week after their last-play victory a week earlier against New England. This game means more to the Dolphins, who still have a chance at making the playoffs. I expect the Jaguars to play hard, but it won't matter as they have to settle for three field goals. The Dolphins will take advantage of a tired Jaguars defense in the second half and score a couple of touchdowns.
Tony Boselli, Jaguars analyst and former Jaguars left tackle
1.The Jaguars will win if: The defense/special teams turn the Dolphins over two-plus times to create at least two short-field opportunities for the offense – and the Jaguars' offense scores at least two touchdowns.
2.The Dolphins will win if: Their defense can make the Jaguars one-dimensional, which would continue the Jaguars' struggles to score. To do this, the Dolphins' defense will need to find a way to improve on the second-worst run defense in the NFL.
3.As Boselli sees it: Both teams struggle offensively; the Jaguars are 26th in total offense and 30th in scoring while the Dolphins are 29th in total offense and 23rd in scoring. It will come down to who wants it more; my gut says the Jaguars will get the run game going against the putrid Dolphins run defense to get their fifth victory of the season, 16-10.
Frank Frangie, Radio Voice of the Jaguars
The Jaguars will win: If they find some offense. Same story every week, it seems. They have to target wide receivers, which they haven't done much lately. They must hit some passes down the field. Opposing defenses don't respect the Jaguars' ability or willingness to hit plays down the field, so they play the run intensely. You have to open that up.
The Dolphins will win: If they score 17 points. I think that's the goal – get to 17 points. It has been a long time since the Jaguars have hit that number.
As Frangie sees it: These are tough times for the good guys. I still think the defense is playing well, probably better than others believe it is. But I'm not sure the Jags can generate enough points to win.
Jeff Lageman, Jaguars analyst and former Jaguars defensive end
The Jaguars will win if: They can get three takeaways by their defense to help their offense score. Points have been hard to come by and some assists are needed.
The Dolphins will win if: They keep playing the way they've been playing at home. Miami is 6-1 at home, with the last "W" being the "MIAMIRACLE," and should be motivated after getting embarrassed in Minnesota.
As Lageman sees it: The Dolphins are playing with playoff hopes in front of their home crowd and the Jags are playing for pride and future jobs. The Dolphins will miss running back Frank Gore but have depth in their backfield with Kenyan Drake and rookie Kalen Ballage emerging last week. Motivation and ability to score give the advantage to Miami.
Brent Martineau, Action Sports Jax Sports Director
The Jaguars will win if: They find some offense. That means getting wide receiver Dede Westbrook the ball. Running back Leonard Fournette and Westbrook are the only playmakers on this offense. Westbrook needs more touches and the Jaguars have not done a good enough job of getting him involved.
The Dolphins will win if: They score 20 points. They might just need 14 points, but 20 should lock this up. The Jaguars have scored one touchdown in the last three games, so planning on any kind of offensive production is blind faith. Miami needs to avoid turning the football over and allowing big plays by the Jags defense.
As Martineau sees it: At season's start, this looked like it could be a playoff clinching game for the Jaguars. Instead, they might be better off losing and drafting in the top five. It's hard to find a Jaguars victory right now and I don't think South Florida will be the remedy. The Dolphins will win, 23-10.
John Oehser, jaguars.com senior writer
The Jaguars will win if: They show something offensively they haven't shown in the last three weeks. The Jaguars have stagnated in three games since Cody Kessler became the starting quarterback, scoring one offensive touchdown in that span. If the Jaguars can get two offensive touchdowns, they have a chance against a struggling Dolphins offense.
The Dolphins will win if: They do what they have done all season, which is play well at home. Miami is 6-1 at Hard Rock Stadium this season. The Jaguars' lone road victory of the season came in Week 1: a 20-16 victory over the New York Giants.
As Oehser sees it: This is a tough spot for the Jaguars and it's difficult – if not impossible – to predict a victory. The Jaguars need the defense and special teams to play nearly flawlessly – and to create scoring opportunities. That happened last week, and it still wasn't enough for the Jaguars to beat a struggling Redskins team.
Brian Sexton, jaguars.com senior correspondent
The Jaguars will win if: They get touchdowns from special teams and their defense. It's where they're at; there is no reason to believe the offense can provide anything after last Sunday's 20 net passing yards.
The Dolphins will win if: They play like a team with the playoffs still a possibility, which they are. If Miami is focused, they should be able to beat a team that is fractured.
As I see it: The Dolphins should win this one. Not that the Jaguars won't put up a fight, but they're too beat up to stand and go the distance against a team that needs to win to stay in the race. The Jaguars' offense is nearly nonexistent at this point in the season.
J.P. Shadrick, jaguars.com reporter/editor
The Jaguars will win if: They can find some spark on offense. They had a great special-teams day and a good defensive day last week and still lost to the Redskins. It's simple: The Jaguars must move the ball and score points on offense. Not much on that side is reliable right now.
The Dolphins will win if: They score a pair of touchdowns. The Jaguars are coming off the worst offensive-scoring three-game stretch in franchise history. The Jaguars haven't proven lately they can score with any regularity.
3. As Shadrick sees it: The Dolphins still have some hope, as slim as it might be, of a playoff berth. They need to win and have some help. The Jaguars are done, and they are already playing younger players to see what they have – most notably at running back last week. Road trip to Miami plus the weekend before Christmas plus team out of the race equals a tough matchup for the Jaguars.
Ashlyn Sullivan, Digital reporter and host
The Jaguars will win if: They get something going on offense. The offense has scored one touchdown in three games and is coming off a game in which it recorded a season-low 192 yards. There will no major changes offensively in the next two weeks. Playcaller Scott Milanovich must work with what he has and get more creative with limited weapons. All areas of the offense must be more productive; it starts with Kessler playing better and taking more command of the offense.
The Dolphins will win if: The Jaguars' defense plays for themselves. The defense has struggled at times this season when a specific player tries to make a big-time play and abandons his job. The defense as a whole played well last week against the Redskins, well enough to win. They must continue to play as a unit with good communication to hold this team together. For most of the season, the defense has lacked big plays; it will need a few Sunday to win.
As Sullivan sees it: The Dolphins should not scare the Jaguars; their defense is allowing 6.2 yards per play, the second highest in the NFL. If Fournette is able to run aggressively, the offense should be able to move down the field. However, the Dolphins are playing for something right now: the slim chance they have to make the playoffs. Normally, when a team is playing for something in December, they win. That is what worries me this week. The Jaguars are playing for the love of the game and the Dolphins are playing to keep their season alive. I have to go with keeping the season alive.