JACKSONVILLE – Each Saturday during the 2019 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 New Orleans Saints at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville.
Rick Ballou, Jaguars sideline reporter
The Jaguars will win if: They run the ball in the first half. The Jags have had tremendous success with running back Leonard Fournette the last two weeks, but only in the second half. Running early changes everything for this offense.
The Saints will win if: They copy Carolina's blueprint from a week ago and run the ball right at the Jaguars. You have to believe Jacksonville will do all it can to fix the defensive problems against the run. If the Jaguars don't, Saints running back Alvin Kamara could have a huge day.
As Ballou sees it: I expect Jacksonville to respond defensively. The Jaguars heard about it all week, similar to when Tennessee came to town and they listened to talk leading to the game about how they struggled with Titans running back Derrick Henry. Look for the Jags to step it up on defense and knock off the Saints by a touchdown.
Tony Boselli, Jaguars analyst and Pride of the Jaguars left tackle
The Jaguars will win if: They get back to playing good defense. Notice I said "good" not "great;" with an offense capable of moving the ball and scoring points, good is all they need. While Kamara isn't quite at the level of Carolina running back Christian McCaffrey, he is still very good. If the Jags don't get their run fits figured out, it will be ugly again Sunday versus the Saints.
The Saints will win if: They control the line of scrimmage offensively and get Kamara going on the ground. It will be critical for the Saints to get the ground game going to keep the pass rush off quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. This is exactly what the Panthers did last week, forcing the Jaguars and rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew II to play catch up all day.
3.As Boselli sees it: The Jaguars' defense is too talented and has too much pride to not respond in a positive way after an embarrassing performance last week versus McCaffrey and the Panthers. This is a defensive group that is used to carrying the team to victory, not being the reason for a loss. Led by a front seven that will shut down Kamara and the Saints' rushing attack, the Jaguars' defense will put together its best performance to date this season. The Jaguars will get multiple turnovers, giving Minshew and the offense at least one short field. The Jaguars will roll on Alumni Weekend to a 24-10 victory.
Frank Frangie, Radio Voice of the Jaguars
The Jaguars will win if: They contain Kamara; they can't let him take over the game as McCaffrey did at times a week ago. I don't think Bridgewater can beat them without a strong running game. Offensively, I would love to see some early rushing yards from Fournette, who has to be fired up playing against his hometown team. And I expect another big game from Jaguars wide receiver DJ Chark Jr., also from Louisiana. Jacksonville also has to avoid another bad start. The Jaguars can't keep playing from behind.
The Saints will win if: They can turn the Jaguars over early in the game and get an early lead. I think it might be a pretty good crowd — the first home game since Minshew Mania really took off — and the Saints would be well-served to take the crowd out of it early. And they need to get Kamara going.
As Frangie sees it: The Jaguars are favored – and if they play a clean game, will win. They need to win the turnover battle; that has been a problem. But they will play clean and they will win.
Jeff Lageman, Jaguars analyst and former Jaguars defensive end
The Jaguars will win if: They find a way to end up on the plus side in turnover differential. In every NFL game, it is the one stat with a direct correlation on winning and losing. The Jaguars haven't been taking the ball away as a defense – only one interception – and that must change. The offense overall has done a pretty good job of protecting the football this season. Minshew has done an incredible job at minimizing interceptions and must improve in the lost fumble category.
The Saints will win if: They have balance as an offense with Kamara being effective as a runner and a receiver. He is a very strong runner and the passes he catches are short, essentially acting as effective runs. If he can be a force, it will be nearly impossible to stop wide receiver Michael Thomas. Arguably the best receiver in the league, Thomas needs extra attention and it will be hard to give it to him if New Orleans has balance offensively.
As Lageman sees it: This might be the Jaguars' toughest test yet. Saints Head Coach Sean Payton has done a really good job with Bridgewater at the helm of the offense and has a really balanced team. The Saints for many years were all about scoring points to win but an improved defense has changed that. The Jaguars will need a positive turnover differential to get the victory.
Brent Martineau, Action Sports Jax Sports Director
The Jaguars will win if: Kamara has less than 120 total yards. That would be containing Kamara, forcing Bridgewater to beat the Jaguars' defense. I think the Jags will get to 24 points. If they hold Kamara, the Saints will have less.
The Saints will win if: They can finally slow Minshew Mania in Jacksonville. The Saints' defense has been just OK overall in 2019, but they have capabilities to shut down this emerging wide receiving group and therefore momentarily stall Minshew Mania.
As Martineau sees it: I'll be the bad guy here. I think the Saints are really good and rallying around Bridgewater. I thought the Jaguars would beat Carolina and lose to the Saints. I have to stick with the Saints here, 27-24.
John Oehser, jaguars.com senior writer
The Jaguars will win if: They get an early lead. They have trailed by double-digits in four of five games this season, and the Saints since Brees' injury have done a masterful job of keeping Bridgewater out of must-throw situations. If the Jaguars can make Bridgewater throw a lot into a defense expecting the pass, then this can be the game the Jaguars finally start producing takeaways.
The Saints will win if: Kamara plays like Kamara. The Saints haven't lost since quarterback Brees' thumb injury for a couple of reasons. One is that Bridgewater has played within himself and within the offense. Another is that Kamara is a dangerous back who can make plays in the passing game or running game. When your running back is equally effective running or receiving, your offense is so balanced and tough to read that you rarely get completely shut down as an offense.
As Oehser sees it: This is a second consecutive brutal matchup for the Jaguars. I see a Jaguars loss Sunday followed by a stretch in which they win a handful of games to get back into the AFC South division race.
Brian Sexton, jaguars.com senior correspondent
The Jaguars will win if: Cornerback A.J. Bouye brings his "A game" or cornerback Jalen Ramsey is ready to go. Thomas looks unstoppable, the tight end has had big days against the Jaguars in the past and let's not even get started on Kamara. If the Jaguars have any hope to beat the Saints, the defense has to play more like they did against the Texans and Titans than the Broncos and Panthers – and that means they must stop Thomas. Bouye hasn't played to an elite level since 2017, but he's certainly capable of slowing Thomas down. Ramsey, if healthy enough to play, also could shut him down. Either way, the Jaguars need the secondary to man up so they can sell out to stop Kamara.
The Saints will win if: The Saints will win if Kamara plays like McCaffrey. Kamara is slippery, hard to tackle, and fast and aggressive. He's a nightmare for a defense that gave up 285 yards and three touchdowns rushing last week in Charlotte. If Kamara finds it as easy as McCaffrey did, the Jaguars won't be able to keep up. Bridgewater isn't Bills quarterback Kyle Allen; he's a legitimate starting quarterback and he'll pick the Jaguars apart if they're overcommitted to the run.
As Sexton sees it: The Jaguars are in desperation mode this week, which makes them dangerous. But the Saints are too talented on both sides of the football. Minshew hasn't seen a secondary like this one and the Saints' front four can be a nightmare for a good offensive line. I just don't think the Jaguars are playing well enough to beat a team that went to Seattle and won, then followed it up by beating then undefeated Dallas and a Tampa Bay squad that hung 55 on the Rams in Los Angeles the week before. I think the Saints keep it rolling and the Jaguars drop their second home game of the season.
J.P. Shadrick, jaguars.com reporter/editor
The Jaguars will win if: They are even or better in the turnover margin. If they had been even in that department last week with Carolina, they would have won. This offense is playing well right now, but you cannot count on it every week if you keep giving the ball up. This is on the defense as well; they only have one defensive takeaway this year. That needs to change to give a good offense more opportunities.
The Saints will win if: They get explosive plays with their stable of playmakers on offense. Kamara can break tackles and make you look silly one-on-one. Thomas is arguably the best receiver in football. They have others that can wreck you too, and the Jaguars were wrecked on defense by big plays last week. That needs to stop – make 'em earn it.
3.As Shadrick sees it: It's good to be back home, and it's a good feeling in that locker room right now. The next month is an opportunity to set up for a late November/December run for the division. Take advantage of a Brees-free Saints team here, and it sets up even better than we think. There is a lot of football left.
Ashlyn Sullivan, Digital reporter and host
1.The Jaguars will win if: The Jaguars' defense plays like the Jaguars' defense. Last week, it was uncharacteristic to allow the Panthers to run for 285 yards and three touchdowns. The defense will need to be on its "A" game this week to stop Kamara and slow down the Saints' offense.
2.The Saints will win if: The Jaguars underestimate Bridgewater. When I found out Brees would still be injured for this game, I thought it was almost a guaranteed victory. Not anymore after watching Bridgewater play. Similar to Minshew Mania, Bridgewater has given the Saints' fan base hope and it's going to be very difficult to slow down his momentum with the Saints offense.
3.As Sullivan sees it: I hate to say it, but I have a hard time believing the Jaguars can win this one. The Saints offense has so many weapons and the defense is no joke, either. The Jaguars will have to play nearly a perfect game to get to 3-3 Sunday.