JACKSONVILLE – Each Saturday during the 2020 season, 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 Cleveland Browns at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville.
Rick Ballou, Jaguars sideline reporter
The Jaguars will if: Mike Glennon hits passes downfield. Glennon, who will start at quarterback for the Jaguars Sunday, said on Wednesday he has nothing to lose. If offensive coordinator Jay Gruden allows Glennon to take some shots downfield in his first start in three years, the Jaguars could surprise the Browns. Cleveland is coming off a victory over Philadelphia and could be overlooking the Jaguars before going back out on the road against Tennessee.
The Browns will win if: Quarterback Baker Mayfield struggles, which he has done the last three games – not throwing a touchdown in that time frame. The Jaguars, a depleted team defensively, should allow Mayfield to have success Sunday. If the Browns are able to have a balanced attack, they should be victorious against Jacksonville.
As Ballou sees it: The Jaguars are going with their third quarterback this season and are incredibly beaten up. They also will be without three defensive coaches because of COVID-19 protocols. The Browns have the longest drought in the NFL for making the playoffs – it has been 17 years – but they will move to 8-3 after a victory Sunday.
Tony Boselli, Radio analyst and Pride of the Jaguars left tackle
The Jaguars will win if: They can stop the potent Browns rushing attack, which is no small task. Running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt are the best one-two running-back combo in the NFL. The Jags are going to need to stack the box and force quarterback Baker Mayfield to beat them.
The Browns will win if: They can just be consistent and not turn the ball over. They are facing a Jaguars team that has lost nine consecutive games and will be without several defensive coaches and a number of its best players. This a game the Browns need to stay in the AFC wildcard race, so I doubt they will look past the Jaguars.
As Boselli sees it: This was going to be a tough game for the Jaguars before all the injuries to key players – and before a week in which the majority of the defensive staff never stepped on the practice field because of COVID-19. I do believe the Jaguars will give great effort and fight, but it just won't be enough. The Jaguars will lose, 24-14.
Frank Frangie, Radio Voice of the Jaguars
The Jaguars will win if: They protect the quarterback better than they did last week – and really, better than they have in the last game and a half. You must be able to get the ball out. And you must protect the ball. Four more turnovers and they will have no chance. Defensively, they must make Mayfield fidgety, get him off his spot and hope he turns it over.
The Browns will win if: They stop running back James Robinson and force the Jaguars to pass. And if they protect Mayfield and attack a Jaguars secondary that seems to be getting younger by the minute.
As Frangie sees it: I still believe this Jaguars team is playing hard. There truly is a fight and a grit to the Jaguars. They were right in it with an undefeated team last week, late in the first half, down a touchdown and in the red zone, when a tipped interception and long return knocked the wind out of their sails. They will play hard here, too. But it's against another team having a good season. It could be another tough day.
Jeff Lageman, Jaguars analyst and former Jaguars defensive end
The Jaguars will win if: They finish plus-two in turnover differential. This will not be easy with a new quarterback – Glennon – who hasn't played meaningful football in years playing behind an offensive line that has not played well on the edges. The James Robinson Train needs to keep on rolling to keep an injured defense on the sideline as much as possible.
The Browns will win if: They continue to run effectively with running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. This is arguably the best one-two punch in the NFL when it comes to playing old-school football – and it has allowed Cleveland to not expose Mayfield too much. The Jaguars' run defense, which has been getting better lately, will be tested.
As Lageman sees it: This will be a very low-scoring game. Neither team has had much offensive firepower lately and this game could come down to which defense gets turnover(s) to help boost its offense. The Jaguars' defense will look much different this week with quite a few front-line starters on injured reserve; preparing replacements with a defensive staff unavailable for COVID-19 reasons will make for some uneasy feelings. The Browns are feeling good about where they are in their season, but have they beaten anybody of significance? The Jaguars have a chance in this one.
Brent Martineau, Action Sports Jax Sports Director
The Jaguars will win if: They stop the Browns' running attack. This has been the Jaguars' focal point all season and it's the strength of Cleveland. If they Jaguars slow Cleveland's running attack, they have a real chance.
The Browns will win if: They can attack the Jaguars' secondary. Jacksonville doesn't even know who is starting opposite Tre Herndon. This could be a big day for Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry and Company.
As Martineau sees it: I'm doing it. It's my turn to try some crazy $!?& and pick the Jaguars to win Sunday. I actually thought they would play Gardner Minshew II at quarterback and liked their chances better with Minshew, but let's do it anyway. The Jags will get big games from their linebackers and slow down the run game. Mayfield has been pedestrian. Glennon will lead the Jaguars to a 23-20 victory.
John Oehser, jaguars.com senior writer
The Jaguars will win if: They stop the run and generate a pass rush to force Mayfield into mistakes. That's a tall task against a team that runs as well as any team in the NFL this season. Also, Glennon must have success early in his first start in three seasons.
The Browns will win if: They run as they normally do and have one or fewer turnovers. The Browns have been consistent this season, beating teams they are supposed to beat and losing to most of their better opponents. If the Browns play their game and don't give away possessions or points, the Jaguars probably can't generate enough offense or pass rush to win.
As Oehser sees it: The Browns are a motivated team that has discovered its identity and plays to that identity. The Jaguars must have a lot go right and have young players play at levels they've never reached to have a chance in any game right now, including this one.
Brian Sexton, jaguars.com senior correspondent
The Jaguars will win if: They can eliminate mistakes. Not to say they must play a perfect game – but they must come darn close. Last week, it was turnovers and missed tackles. The week before, it was blown coverages and breakdowns in protection. This season, it has been something different every week and nearly everything over the course of nine consecutive losses. You can't hang with Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger or beat Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers unless you eliminate the mistakes.
The Browns will win if: They can run. The Browns haven't run this well since the halcyon days of Earnest Byner and Kevin Mack. They're good – really, really good – and when they're pounding the football at almost five yards per attempt for close to 160 yards per game they're really, really hard to stop.
As Sexton sees it: This is the Jaguars' best chance to break into the win column. The Browns are 7-3 and having the kind of season they have been waiting for almost 30 years to enjoy. If the Jaguars had defensive end Josh Allen and cornerback CJ Henderson and guard Andrew Norwell, I would give them this one – but they're struggling and injured and it's hard to pick them to win. What the heck: Mayfield isn't Roethlisberger or Rodgers. Give me the Jaguars to pull off the upset and end the losing streak by a late field goal.
J.P. Shadrick, jaguars.com reporter/editor
The Jaguars will win if: The offense controls the ball, shortens the game and scores touchdowns at the end of drives. They need a couple takeaways on defense.
The Browns will win if: They stop the Jaguars' running game and see what Glennon has to offer in the passing game. Maybe he has something left in the tank, but it could be a long day at the office for the Jags if Glennon has to air it out 40 times.
As Shadrick sees it: The Jaguars have lost nine consecutive games by an average of just over 11 points per game, they have COVID-19 issues on the coaching staff, an injury-riddled defense, and a quarterback starting an NFL game for the first time since 2017. The Browns are 7-3 and pushing for their first playoff berth since 2002. Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone has squeezed as much out of this depleted roster as he can. He'll keep squeezing, but I'm curious how much juice remains.
Ashlyn Sullivan, Digital reporter and host
The Jaguars will win if: Like Glennon said best: "Go out there and let it rip." That's how the Jaguars can win this game. Glennon sees this as possibly his last chance to start in the NFL. Expect some big throws down the field. If he hits more than he misses, Jaguars could win this one. An aggressive offensive plan could make something happen; Glennon has nothing to lose and should take some chances.
The Browns will win if: They run over the Jaguars' defense … literally. Jaguars middle linebacker Joe Schobert is in for a huge day managing Chubb and Hunt. Both Browns running backs are on pace for a 1,000-yard season. I don't think the Jaguars' defense is capable of taking out the Browns' running game, especially with how injured Jacksonville's defense is. But if they can limit explosive runs the Jags give themselves a chance.
As Sullivan sees it: This is the Jaguars' best chance to win the rest of the season. If the defense can have a strong showing against the Browns' running game, I feel good about this game – which is crazy to think on a nine-game losing streak, I know. Glennon must be efficient and limit turnovers. This is the most optimistic I have felt about a Jaguars game in the past month.