JACKSONVILLE – This is another opportunity, and a big one.
That's how the Jaguars see their game against the New York Giants at TIAA Bank Field Sunday – as a very real chance against one of the NFL's best teams.
It's a chance to break a three-game losing streak.
It's a chance to start climbing back into the AFC South race.
It's a chance against a team that has become one of the NFL's surprise teams of the 2022 season by doing what the Jaguars have struggled to do – make big plays at crucial moments to finish close, winnable games.
"Right now, we're 2-4," Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence said. "We're a really good team, and we've lost a lot of games that we were that close to being a 5-1, even possibly a 6-0 team. That doesn't really matter to anyone else, but for us, we have confidence in who we can be, and we've just got to go make those plays to finish those games, but we have a lot of confidence."
The Giants (5-1) have played six games decided by a score or less. They have trailed in all five of their victories, three times rallying from double-digit deficits to win – and rallying from 10-point second-half deficits to beat the Green Bay Packers and Baltimore Ravens the last two weeks.
The Jaguars (2-4) have lost four games by a score or less. They have led in all four of their losses, and have led by double digits in three of those losses.
Sunday is a chance to end that trend.
Here are 10 things the Jaguars must do to make that happen:
- Score in the red zone. The Jaguars are 11th in the NFL in total yards in 2022 and have moved efficiently for extended periods in all six games. They have been less consistent in the red zone but were three-of-three touchdowns there last Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts. The result was 27 points – their second-highest total of the season. The red zone is key for this offense.
- Take the ball away. The Jaguars led the NFL with nine takeaways in the first four game of the season. They have none since. They must end the mini-drought to get their early-season defensive feel back.
- Turn turnovers into points. The Jaguars are struggling. There's no better way to break out of struggles against a hot team than a turnover for a touchdown.
- Stop Saquon Barkley. This may not be entirely realistic. The Giants' running back might be the best player in the NFL at his position. But the Jaguars must contain him to a reasonable extent Sunday. He's a threat on every play. Concentration and effort must be high the entire game.
- Pressure Daniel Jones. The Giants' quarterback hasn't been asked to make hero plays this season. And with Barkley playing at a high level, they haven't had to expose Jones to a lot of obvious pass-rushing situations. The Jaguars have 10 sacks this season with none against Colts quarterback Matt Ryan last week. They must pressure better at home Sunday.
- Protect the ball, particularly late. The Giants thrive off turnovers and turned a late-game interception into the game-winning/go-ahead touchdown in a victory over the Ravens last Sunday. The Giants are winning by creating their own breaks. If the Jaguars get a late lead, pressure will be on Lawrence to avoid critical mistakes.
- Convert fourth down. Jaguars Head Coach Doug Pederson is aggressive on fourth down. That won't change. The Jaguars, after converting four of six fourth downs during a two-game winning streak in Week 2-3, have converted one of six fourth downs during their current three-game losing streak. Their five successful fourth down have led to five touchdown drives. It's critical Pederson's aggressiveness pays off.
- Break it all the way. Jaguars running back Travis Etienne Jr. has been a step away from a huge touchdown run each of the last two weeks. It's time.
- Play clean. The Jaguars are the 12th-least penalized team in the NFL this season, so penalties in that sense aren't a major problem. But big penalties by outside linebacker Travon Walker and cornerback Shaq Griffin have extended key drives at key moments in recent weeks. Those must stop.
- Get a late stop. The Jaguars have struggled here this season. In three of their four losses, they have allowed the opponent a touchdown to take the lead in the final four minutes. Defense in the NFL these days is about getting off the field in big situations. The Jaguars must be better here.