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 Seattle Seahawks at Lumen Field in Seattle, Wash.
Brian Sexton, jaguars.com senior correspondent
The Jaguars will win if: They score 25 points or more. The Tennessee Titans and Minnesota Vikings had to score 30 to beat Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson while the Los Angeles Rams and Pittsburgh Steelers had to score at least 23 to beat Seahawks backup Geno Smith. I don't think you can expect to match the Saints' 13 points from Monday Night Football and win in Seattle, where the Jaguars have been outscored 86-17 in their last two meetings. Twenty-five would be the most Jaguars rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence and Co. have scored in 2021, but this Seattle defense isn't anywhere close to what it has been in recent years. The Seahawks rank 31st in the NFL in total defense.
The Seahawks will win if: They rattle Lawrence. If you've ever watched a game at Lumen Field, you've seen the required shot of a decibel meter to prove it's the loudest place to play in sports. I don't sense this particular Seattle defense is good enough to strike fear into Lawrence, but it's as difficult a place as there is to play in the NFL – and it doesn't take much to get the 12 to their feet. Be careful.
As Sexton sees it: The Seahawks without Wilson are an average team – though some might argue below average, because they're 0-2 without him. I think the Jaguars winning in London will make the long trip west a moot point, but I don't know if they're ready to go into that hostile atmosphere and win. Maybe they are, but I am not ready to predict it.
John Oehser, jaguars.com senior writer
The Jaguars will win if: They continue their recent offensive improvement. The Jaguars hit their season-high with 23 points against the Miami Dolphins in Week 6, and much about this offense – running back James Robinson's consistency and Lawrence's recent improvement – indicates they can start getting into the high twenties. That won't be as easy Sunday as some observers believe; the Seattle defense has improved in recent weeks and is better than its league ranking.
The Seahawks will win if: They hit big plays in the passing game and avoid mistakes. While there is a significant drop-off from Wilson to Geno Smith, the Seahawks' still have big-time weapons at receiver in Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf. If Smith can get the ball to them against a Jaguars defense that has just two interceptions, Seattle can generate enough offense to win.
As Oehser sees it: This is a tougher test for the Jaguars than some observers believe. While the Jaguars have improved in recent weeks, they have yet to turn their offensive improvement into a breakout performance – and they still have trouble covering well enough to prevent big plays in the passing game. Seattle is still playing hard and will be a tough out in a difficult venue for road teams.
Brent Martineau, Action Sports Jax Sports Director
The Jaguars will win if: If the offense has its best scoring day of the season. I like the Jaguars' offense, which is doing good things – but it has yet to score more than 23 points in a game. The Seattle defense is average at best. If the Jaguars can take advantage of scoring opportunities, I think this can be a 30-point game for the offense – and that's a victory for the Jaguars.
The Seahawks will win if: Metcalf and Lockett combine for more than 150 yards. The Seahawks should be able to move the ball against the Jaguars even without Wilson. The Jaguars have a matchup problem on the outside and they can't allow those two wide receivers to have big plays. That's Seattle's key to victory.
As Martineau sees it: I want to pick the Jaguars here. I kind of like them coming out of the bye week, and I like Lawrence and the offense. I just don't have a good feeling because of the trends. The Jaguars don't play well out west. Seattle doesn't lose a lot at home and the Seahawks are 0-3 this season in Seattle. I think the Seahawks are desperate and find a way to win, 27-24.
J.P. Shadrick, jaguars.com senior reporter
The Jaguars will win if: They get an early lead and continue to have offensive balance. There seems to be real momentum in the play of Lawrence, but let's see if they can find something extra in the offense to help spread the opposing defense. Keep running Robinson. That rarely is a bad strategy.
The Seahawks will win if: Metcalf and Lockett run wild in the secondary. The Jaguars' pass rush must get home to Smith, and the coverage must be better on the back end.
As Shadrick sees it: This is a long road trip to a place where the Jaguars never have won. Many on this team never have been to Seattle, though this is a different Seahawks team without Wilson. Keep it tight, get to the fourth quarter, overcome the adversity of the crowd noise and see if you can steal one in the Pacific Northwest.
Frank Frangie, Radio Voice of the Jaguars
The Jaguars will win if: They continue the momentum from winning the last time out. They must run Robinson and – once again – hit at least a few plays down the field. Seattle is reeling, a team with much higher expectations than it appears the Seahawks will reach. The Jaguars must play well early and get the Seahawks doubting themselves again. Now that Head Coach Urban Meyer has indicated the Jaguars are pretty much a zone team defensively, they must keep everything in front and make Seattle go the length of the field without Wilson.
The Seahawks will win if: They can bottle up Robinson and force the Jags to pass off schedule. Lawrence has gotten much better each week, so the Seahawks must rush the passer better than they have. Seattle needs early confidence; it needs to win the first quarter or two.
As Frangie sees it: This will be a close one. The young Jaguars are playing with little to lose – and despite the early losses, they don't seem fazed. Meyer has talked about how good the locker room is and the Jaguars do indeed seem to be pulling in the same direction. They must get an early lead and take advantage of a rattled Seattle team. If they do that, the Jaguars could win this.
Tony Boselli, Jaguars analyst and former Jaguars left tackle
The Jaguars will win if: They start fast and have a very effective running game. The Seahawks' defense struggled early in the season, but has played better the last few weeks and will be a test of the Jaguars' offense. Lawrence is playing better each week, but the Jaguars' offense is still most effective when it runs through Robinson. He needs to have at least 25 touches.
The Seahawks will win if: *The Seahawks' offensive line can protect Smith and give him time to find his explosive receivers. Offensively, the Seahawks have struggled since Wilson was injured, but they have big-play weapons and the Jaguars have struggled in pass defense.
As Boselli sees it: *This is a great opportunity for the Jaguars to string a couple wins together and win in Seattle for the first time in franchise history. The Jaguars are the better team with Wilson out. If they play smart, turnover-free football, it will be a great plane ride home from the West Coast: 21-17, Jaguars win.
Jeff Lageman, Jaguars analyst and former Jaguars defensive end
The Jaguars will win if: They continue improving offensively against a Seattle defense that has played well lately. The Jaguars have seen significant improvement in nearly every metric from Lawrence over the last three games, and improved third-down production (currently second worst in the NFL at 31.3 percent) must be a focus moving forward. This would allow Robinson more carries, better play-action passing, more explosive plays and keep the defense rested and on the sideline.
The Seahawks will win if: They have great success running to keep the Jaguars' defense off balance. Smith has shown he is no Wilson and would need a strong running game to utilize Metcalf and Lockett, making them the dangerous weapons they can be. The Seattle defense also found a bit of a groove the last couple games, allowing only 18 points per game. Seahawks safety Jamal Adams is a player that can be difficult to contend with as he can line up many different ways and is an excellent blitzer.
As Lageman sees it: This will be an excellent matchup, with Lawrence leading an offense with a strong running game against a Seattle defense playing well of late – and that has the backing of the 12th man. Can Lawrence handle hostile Lumen Field? Can the Jaguars' zone defense keep Metcalf and Lockett in check? If Lawrence can handle the noise and the Jaguars can handle two dangerous receivers, the Jaguars can start a winning streak.
Rick Ballou, Jaguars sideline reporter
The Jaguars will win if:They convert on third down. Jacksonville has moved the ball but has struggled making less than one-third of third-down opportunities. This will be a time-of-possession, low-scoring game where the Jaguars have to extend their drives.
The Seahawks will win if:Smith gets the ball to Metcalf and Lockett. Smith has struggled, but the Jaguars' pass defense has as well. Jacksonville should be able to stop the run, putting even more pressure on the pass. Yards after catch by these two is dangerous for Seattle.
As Ballou sees it:Seattle hasn't won a home game this season and has lost three in a row overall. Once again, Jacksonville will show improvement offensively, but the Seahawks will make the bigger plays and win by a field goal.
Ashlyn Sullivan, team reporter
The Jaguars will win if: They stick with what they are doing well. The Jaguars' running game is averaging almost 5.2 yards per carry and the Seahawks' defense is ranked second to last in the league. You see what I am getting at: Run against a defense that has not been able to stop the run lately.
The Seahawks will win if: They get the first turnover and momentum is on their side. For the Jaguars to win, a lot must go right for them. If the Seahawks do something big early on (explosive play or a turnover), I do not see the Jaguars coming back from that. Coaches and players have talked all week about preparing as best they can for the 12th Man. If the Seahawks get the first turnover, that 12th Man will be difficult to handle.
As Sullivan sees it: This game will be close – closer than I would have said in August when expectations for both teams were much different. The Jaguars are playing better than at the beginning of the season, but I do not think it will be enough to beat a team that has more talent – even with Wilson not playing. There is a reason not many teams win in Seattle, and I do not think the Jaguars will be able to make enough plays to overcome the adversity of a tough venue.