Well, on paper this is one of those weeks when things just don't look very good for the Jaguars. Their opponent is the New Orleans Saints, and on paper, it's hard to imagine a trickier, harder-to-handle matchup.
The Saints' blitzing defense vs. a young quarterback . . .
The Saints' high-scoring offense against a Jaguars offense that's struggling . . .
The Saints . . .
Well, the list goes on, and as evidenced by the predictions of just about anyone bothering to predict, on papers, the Saints are considered an overwhelming favorite.
Here's why the Jaguars have a chance: The NFL isn't played on paper.
That's obvious, and it probably sounds like the Teal Kool-Aid talking, but it remains true that as often as not in the NFL when it looks like there is absolutely no way one team can possibly stay on the same field with the other that the game turns out nothing like what people are predicting.
Go back in time, all the way to last week . . .
No one thought the Indianapolis Colts could beat the Pittsburgh Steelers. Pittsburgh needed a late field goal to win, 23-20. No one thought the Kansas City Chiefs could push the San Diego Chargers. Another three-point game.
That's not to say it's not a difficult match-up for the Jaguars. It is. The Saints are playing and throwing at a high level, and seem to be able to score in the 20s consistently. The Jaguars have yet to get to the 20s. Something along those lines obviously must change.
That something could be anything. A turnover here, a big play there.
Will the Jaguars need to play better than they have the first three weeks? Absolutely. Are they capable of doing that? They believe so, and that's what we'll find out Sunday.
Meanwhile, here are 10 things the Jaguars must do to beat the Saints:
1.Pressure Drew Brees.This isn't easy, but he has been sacked six times this season. Sacks aren't absolutely necessary, but you can't let him get comfortable and into a rhythm.
2.Let Gabbert throw.So far, they haven't. Maybe he's not ready. Maybe they don't trust him. But eventually . . .
3.Score "weird" points.The Jaguars have scored 29 points this season. The Saints have scored at least 30 points in every game. The Jaguars need some breaks. Special teams touchdowns. Turnovers. Something. Anything.
4.Catch the ball.Talk separation all you want, but receivers have to catch the ball when it's catchable. The Jaguars have had too many drops.
5.Throw in running situations.When you make any quarterback throw in 2nd-and-3rd-and-long, you're asking him to throw into a rush. Let him throw on first down some. Let him get comfortable.
6.Tighten up special teams.The Jaguars have been giving away field position on special teams. They're not built that way.
7.Run Maurice Jones-Drew. Obviously.
8.Get Marcedes Lewis involved.Four receptions for 43 yards in two games. That's not enough for your second-best offensive weapon behind MJD.
9.Handle details.The Jaguars lost a chance at at least two plays late last week when they didn't get the ball snapped in the final seconds. Against an overwhelming favorite like New Orleans – shoot, against any NFL team – you can't give away opportunities.
10.Stop the run.Even against a passing team such as the Saints, you can't ignore it. This has been a strength for the Jaguars this season. Don't overlook it.