HOME SWEET HOME, DUVAL! This week is huge! It's homecoming and the Jags are finally back in TIAA Bank Stadium to face an NFC powerhouse, the New Orleans Saints. This game will be a battle of the back-ups, as both quarterbacks started the season as the No.2 guy on the roster, but due to injury, have found themselves in the spotlight.
Outside of Minshew Mania, there's a ton of reasons for fans to get excited about this match-up! As you know, Jacksonville hasn't had a home game since the Thursday Night Football victory over the Tennessee Titans - nearly a month ago! Not only did the offense light up the field in primetime but Sacksonville recorded nine sacks. Yes, NINE sacks! So not only should fans get pumped to have football back in Jacksonville, but they're also celebrating the All-25 team this weekend in honor of the franchises' 25th season anniversary.
The Jaguars All-25 is a recognition of the top 25 non-active players in franchise history, as voted on by a panel including members of the local media who covered the team throughout the majority of its existence. You can find out more information on the members that will be honored here.
Leonard Fournette is set to play his hometown team on Sunday. The Jaguars' running back is a product of New Orleans, Louisiana that made his way to be one of the most successful players at his position to play for LSU. Fournette was then drafted in 2017 as the 4th overall pick by Jacksonville. Since joining the Jags, his work speaks for itself. In case you didn't know, Fournette became the first player in franchise history to score a touchdown from scrimmage in each of his first six games wearing the teal and black. This season, the rusher isn't skipping a beat.
Through five weeks of play, he's third in the league in rushing yards but the leader in the AFC. The last two weeks Fournette has really burst back onto the scene. He had a combined 333 rushing yards which included back-to-back 100-yard rushing games. The talented rusher is facing a strong defensive unit this week which might be his toughest test yet. However, the promising side is that again, Fournette has familiarity with the Saints.
This is a special game for Leonard Fournette. The Saints are a massive part of his hometown. And there are very few players in the NFL that are as connected to their homes as Fournette is. Family means everything to him. On this week's Leonard Fournette: In His Shoes by Jaguars Production, his high school coach, Cyril Cruthfield, said Leonard is extremely extremely loyal to the people of his hometown. He knows the impact that he has every time he touches the field for the people of New Orleans. All eyes will be on him this weekend, and you can expect him to put on a show.
To watch the full mini-documentary, "Leonard Fournette: In His Shoes" click here.
Marshon Lattimore vs DJ Chark is going to be one of the best one-on-one matchups across the entire league this weekend. Marshon Lattimore is a defensive back for the New Orleans Saints that has locked down the league since entering in 2017. He won Defensive Rookie of the Year that season and never looked back. In fact, last week he completely took Mike Evans' out of the Bucs' offense which was previously - firing on all cylinders. He held the Pro Bowler to 0 catches.
This week DJ Chark will set his sights on the Saints' no fly zone. While Lattimore is one of the best in the league at his position, so is Chark. Duval's top wide-out is ranked number five in total receiving yards amongst the league and he's atop of the entire AFC. He is also tied for second most receiving touchdowns (5) only one behind the league leader. The one unique aspect about this game is that typically Lattimore lines up from the No. 1 receiver, which in this case is Chark. However, Chark lines up on the left side of the offense in most cases, which would usually place Eli Apple as his cover man. What does this mean? Well, it could mean that Lattimore might have to play slightly out of his typical situation to cover Chark - an advantage for the WR.
So who wins this battle? I have all the confidence in DJ. He's coming off his best game of the season so far where he put up 164 yards on 8 receptions and pulled in two touchdowns against the Panthers. I believe that momentum will carry on into this week. Regardless, expect this to be a show!
I cannot emphasize enough how incredible it is to say that the Jags are back home this week. The best part? Sunday is expected to be a beauty of a day! High is 83 and mostly sunny. So what does that mean Duval?
It means you should be prepared with these tips:
- GIVE INTO THE MANIA. Minshew Mania to be exact. Be ready to go with your mustache and jorts. Yes, jorts. Let's just imagine how incredible this moment can be… a stadium full of jorts and mustaches. In fact, the Jags are giving away 35,000 mustaches and ten lucky fans to wear jorts will receive a signed Minshew jersey. So arrive early for the goodies or BYOM (Bring your own mustache).
- Outside of those two important tips, also remember this will be a hot one. Throw on a Jags hat or bring that sunscreen because you're going to need it!
- WATER. WATER. WATER. Remember that each fan is allowed in one factory sealed 16 ounce bottle of water. While you're at it, throw those bottles into your clear stadium-approved bag!
- PRO TIP: Did you know about the Designated Driver Program? Well, fans 21 years of age or older with a valid driver's license can sign a pledge at any Guest Services Booth to be a designated driver. In appreciation of their commitment to getting their friends home safely, all designated drivers who sign up will be eligible to win a Bud Light prize package. Registration must be completed by the beginning of the third quarter. The drawing will occur and be announced in the fourth quarter. Each designated driver will receive a voucher for a free non-alcoholic O'Doul's beverage, soda or water, redeemable at participating concession stands.
As always, have fun this weekend, stay safe and cheer on the Jags to another victory! Reminder - kickoff is at 1pm ET.