JACKSONVILLE – Each week during the 2021 season, Jaguars experts – Rick Ballou, Tony Boselli, Frank Frangie, Jeff Lageman, Brent Martineau, John Oehser, Brian Sexton, J.P. Shadrick and Ashlyn Sullivan – will analyze the following day's Jaguars matchup.
Up this week:
The New York Jets at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.
Brian Sexton, jaguars.com senior correspondent
The Jaguars will win if: The defense scores. Let's face it: the offense has fallen and won't be getting up in 2021. I thought rookie cornerback Tyson Campbell's fourth-quarter interception setting up a red-zone opportunity was the turning point against the Houston Texans last Sunday – the sort of game-changing, field-flipping scenario I've written about in this space for weeks. It was not. Maybe if he had scored that would have turned the tide.
The Jets will win if: They score on their opening drive. It has worked for the Indianapolis Colts, San Francisco 49ers, Atlanta Falcons, Los Angeles Rams, Tennessee Titans and Houston Texans in succession. Why not the Jets? We've talked a lot about how the defense has hung in there absent any offense whatsoever. But what if the Jaguars had stopped any of these teams and not put themselves in an early hole?
As Sexton sees it: The Jets are the last team the Jaguars have a shot to beat. The New England Patriots and Colts will both be playing for something in the last two weeks of the season, and we've seen the advantage in recent weeks that teams with something on the line in December have over teams playing out the string. The Jets aren't playing for anything, but they are scoring 18 points a game and the Jaguars haven't scored 18 or more points since October 17. I don't see the Jaguars' six-game losing streak ending in New York.
John Oehser, jaguars.com senior writer
The Jaguars will win if: They get a lead, score 20 and get two takeaways. The last two elements are perhaps intertwined, because it feels as if the Jaguars need turnovers and short fields to get out of the teens for the first time since Week 6.
The Jets will win if: They force turnovers and take advantage of Jaguars mistakes. The Jaguars have managed to keep games somewhat competitive in recent weeks – when they have limited turnovers. But too often, untimely penalties have given the Jaguars' opponents extra – and unearned – opportunities. If the Jets take advantage, they will win.
As Oehser sees it: The Jaguars have lost six consecutive games and have led in none of those games. They have trailed by 10 or more points in the first half of all those games. Until they show otherwise, it's hard to pick them to win.
Brent Martineau, Action Sports Jax Sports Director
The Jaguars will win if: They have their best offensive performance of the season. The latest bump opportunity is with passing-game Brian Schottenheimer getting the play-calling duties. Nothing has worked for the Jaguars so far and there's no evidence anything will work. It's a bit of blind faith, but if there can be one game where everything clicks … maybe this is it.
The Jets will win if: They score 20. That's the magic formula for anyone against the Jags. They might not even need that much. The Jaguars can look pretty good on defense, so the Jets must get in the end zone. Jets rookie quarterback Zach Wilson is prone to mistakes, but if he can land the Jets in the end zone a few times it's probably game over.
As Martineau sees it: I've got nothing, folks. I've been beaten down by these Jaguars. It's very difficult to envision a scenario in which they win. It's the NFL, so it can happen. I'm not picking it. The Jets will win, 27-16.
J.P. Shadrick, jaguars.com senior writer
The Jaguars will win if: They play a mistake-free game on offense and get a couple takeaways on defense to shorten the field. The one takeaway they got last week, the offense started at the Texans' 22-yard line, gained only five yards and settled for a field goal. Yes, it made it a one-possession game, but the point is the Jags offense did not move the ball in that scenario. Additional opportunities with the ball in their hands would not hurt.
The Jets will win if: They somehow rally the troops after a wild COVID-19 week and play above the depth chart. Quarterback Zach Wilson is likely eager to prove that the league had it wrong during the 2021 NFL Draft.
As Shadrick sees it: There are plenty of familiar faces on the Jets sideline, and the Jags need a win in a bad way. For Interim Head Coach Darrell Bevell it has been a somewhat normal game-week routine for the first time after the bedlam of last week – or at least it was until the Jaguars added a few starters to the COVID-19 list Friday. Let's see if it translates to a more complete and clean game this week.
Jeff Lageman, Jaguars analyst and former Jaguars defensive end
The Jaguars will win if: They find a way to score. It has been a major struggle over the last eight games for rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence and his offensive mates as they have averaged a mere 10 points a game. A renewed commitment to running back James Robinson and the running game last should help, but everyone must perform better on that side of the ball to expect anything different.
The Jets will win if: They can keep their team off the COVID-19 list. Jets Head Coach Robert Saleh and General Manager Joe Douglas have been dealing with an outbreak that included Saleh. Roster management in today's NFL is not exactly what it was a couple years ago.
As Lageman sees it: This game will be interesting from the comparison aspect of the two quarterbacks. It's somewhat rare to you see the No. 1 and No. 2 overall selections from a past spring's draft meet and this will be the only interest from a national perspective. The only other interest may be positioning of this coming spring's draft. From a Jacksonville perspective, the development of Lawrence will be closely watched in the remaining three weeks – as well as the impact of Schottenheimer as the offensive play-caller.
Ashlyn Sullivan, Jaguars team reporter
The Jaguars will win if: They take the ball and score first. The Jaguars must play aggressive offensively. They have nothing to lose, so they should take some chances. Lawrence has only thrown one touchdown pass in the past seven games; he must get it going Sunday to silence the narrative starting to brew – people wondering if he has what it takes to be "the guy." The Jaguars have had major trouble playing themselves out of a hole this season; if they take the ball and get in the end zone early, that is their best chance to win. This team needs momentum on their side.
The Jets will win if: The defensive line allows Wilson to run free. Multiple Jaguars defensive players have spoken about Wilson's ability to get out of the pocket and get the ball downfield. The Jaguars must keep him contained. Cornerback Shaquill Griffin said he was impressed with Wilson and his fearless approach. If the Jaguars can't pressure him early, that could be a problem. It does not help that the Jaguars' best pass rusher is out with COVID-19 this week; defensive end/linebacker Josh Allen will now miss ten days.
As Sullivan sees it: I am curious to see how different the Jaguars will play this week after having a somewhat "normal" week to game plan with limited distractions. Still, I can't pick the Jaguars to win until they prove they can score more – even against a struggling Jets team. The Jaguars must play better overall to beat any team in the NFL right now.
Frank Frangie, Radio Voice of the Jaguars
The Jaguars will win if: They can affect and fluster Wilson with a variety of blitzes and looks in the secondary. This is the second consecutive week the Jaguars will face a rookie quarterback. Next week in New England will make it three in a row. So, the Jags need to come after Wilson and keep this a low- scoring game. And new Schottenheimer must find a little magic with the offense. And somehow find a way to get Lawrence into a rhythm.
The Jets will win if: They take away Robinson and make the Jaguars pass off schedule. Robinson had his best game in a while last week and the Jaguars started to show at least a semblance of balance. The Jets also must run it at least a little to keep the Jaguars' blitzing defense honest about coming after Wilson.
As Frangie sees it: I do think the Jaguars found a little new energy after the head-coaching change. But the mistakes continued Sunday. I'm not sure they can get that turned around this week. These are two struggling teams, but it might be hard to get this on the road.
Tony Boselli, Jaguars analyst and former Jaguars left tackle
The Jaguars will win if: The eliminate mistakes that have extended opponents' drives, and get some early points go allow them to play with the lead. If they can get an early lead, they can stick to the ground game and take some pressure off their defense. They must eliminate the self-inflicted errors on both sides of the ball.
The Jets will win if: Wilson gets in an early rhythm and can avoid costly turnovers. With Jets missing several starters because of COVID-19, they are going to need to count on guys who have just joined the team, putting even more pressure on the young rookie quarterback.
As Boselli sees it: This is the Jaguars' best chance to get one more win this season – an even matchup of teams with rookie quarterbacks struggling with consistency. This game will come down to who makes fewer mistakes and wins the turnover battle. I think the Jags give all of us a nice Christmas present with a 20-17 win.
Rick Ballou, Jaguars sideline reporter
The Jaguars will win if: They pressure Wilson. He has been inconsistent; if the Jaguars get to him, he's prone to make mistakes. The Jets are a turnover machine at minus-14; Jacksonville must get a couple of takeaways.
The Jets will win if: They're somewhat healthy. How many players will be out? The Jets have been hit hard by COVID-19 all week. We won't know for sure who will play until 90 minutes before kickoff. The Jets were balanced last week when they ran 24 times, passed 24 times and scored 24 in a loss. If they do the same Sunday, they will win.
As Ballou sees it: The intangibles favor the Jets, though it won't be as cold as appeared likely earlier in the week. Both teams could end up with the No. 1 selection in the 2022 NFL Draft. Jets fans are angry as they've been in a rebuild for years. They should smile Sunday as they sneak by Jacksonville for a victory.