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Ten Things the Jaguars Must Do Regain Momentum and Beat the Browns 

Week 14 - 10 things

JACKSONVILLE – This one feels big. Really big.

And while that would have been true in many circumstances, the specific circumstances around the Jaguars these days give Sunday’s game against the Cleveland Browns at Cleveland Browns Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio, added importance.

Those circumstances are layered, with quarterback Trevor Lawrence being the most high-profile – and important layer – for the AFC South-leading Jaguars.

Lawrence sustained a high-ankle sprain in a 34-31 overtime loss to the Cincinnati Bengals this past Monday. The loss reduced the 8-4 Jaguars' lead in the South to one game over the Indianapolis Colts (7-5) and Houston Texans (7-5), with the Jaguars holding tiebreaker advantage over both teams.

Lawrence's injury makes his status for Sunday the No. 1 Jaguars storyline of the week. He never has missed a start in 46 NFL games. Head Coach Doug Pederson didn't rule him out. If he can't play, backup C.J. Beathard will start.

Times change fast in the NFL. The Jaguars on Monday narrowly lost a game when a victory would have put them atop the AFC seedings with five games remaining. Instead, they enter Sunday trying to maintain their edge in the South – and regain the momentum they had after back-to-back AFC South victories entering the game against Cincinnati.

Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Cincinnati Bengals

OL Anton Harrison (77)

The Jaguars need this one – not only in the standings, but to regain the good feeling of late November. Here are 10 things they must do to get it:

  1. Stop the run. The Jaguars have done this well most of the season. They pride themselves on it. They didn't do it against the Bengals, and not doing it allowed the Bengals to maintain momentum through most of the game.
  2. Stop the run. It's important enough Sunday to mention twice. The Browns are at their best when they run effectively. The Jaguars believe they're one of the best in the NFL in the stopping the run. They believe it's why they're a good defense and a good team They'll get a big-time chance to prove they're right Sunday.
  3. Protect the passer. The Jaguars pass-blocked well for the most part against the Bengals, with the Bengals getting pressure – and sacks – mostly in obvious passing situations. The Browns are a dominant pass-rushing front, even with defensive end Myles Garrett playing through a shoulder issue. Whether it's Lawrence or Beathard, the Jaguars need the passer to have time Sunday.
  4. Convert short yardage. This has been a season-long issue for the Jaguars. Maybe they won't solve it consistently this season with the interior line struggling to get push. It still must be a priority.
  5. Convert in the red zone. Whether it's the backup quarterback or a physically limited starter, red-zone opportunities figure to be precious for the Jaguars Sunday. They scored three touchdowns on three red-zone possessions Monday, also scoring after reaching the Bengals 22. Such efficiency in big moments will be necessary again Sunday.
  6. Force turnovers. The Jaguars were really good here most of this season. They have hit a bit of a lull in recent weeks. They hit a similar lull last season, then were really good late in the season, with takeaways keying many victories in a five-game season-ending winning streak that led to their first AFC South championship in five seasons. They need to get good here again.
  7. Distrubute between the remaining three. Jaguars wide receiver Christian Kirk is out with a groin injury. The offense struggled at times early in the season with wide receiver Zay Jones out, but the Jaguars are good enough at the skill positions with Jones, wide receiver Calvin Ridley and tight end Evan Engram that they should be able to overcome Kirk's absence.
  8. Run. The Jaguars haven't run consistently enough this season for this to feel reliable. The absence of left tackle Cam Robinson makes it tougher to trust the run. Still, with quarterback issues, the Jaguars need to get reliable here this week.
  9. Step up all over. Lawrence is far from the only Jaguars injury issue. Wide receiver Christian Kirk is out. Left tackle Walker Little has a hamstring issue. Nickelback Tre Herndon is in the concussion protocol. Like every NFL, the Jaguars have a "next-man-up" philosophy. That philosophy will be tested in a big way Sunday.
  10. Gut it out. This won't be easy. The Browns have lost just once at home this season, and Lawrence may not be at quarterback in a regular season game for the first time since 2020. Still, the Jaguars are good on the road. They are 6-0 away from Jacksonville this season. Rely on that. Find a way. This one's critical.

Sun came up and we are back to work 💪 Swipe through top photos of the Jaguars preparation for Week 14. The Jaguars will face the Cleveland Browns in Ohio on Sunday afternoon.

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