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Ten Things the Jaguars Must Do To Defeat the AFC's Top Team

10 Things Article

JACKSONVILLE – This is a matchup – and a moment – befitting of the time slot.

The Jaguars on Sunday will play host to the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday Night Football at EverBank Stadium, a big prime-time game – and a big prime-time moment – for the Jaguars for multiple reasons.

  • It's a chance to snap a two-game losing streak.
  • It's a chance to solidify their lead in the AFC South.
  • It's a chance to pull to within a game of the No. 1 seed in the AFC.

It's also the Jaguars' first regular-season appearance on Sunday Night Football since 2008 and their second appearance all-time on SNF. It's their second prime-time appearance in three weeks, with the Jaguars making their first Monday Night Football appearance in 12 years in a 34-31 overtime loss to Cincinnati in Jacksonville two weeks ago.

The Jaguars have struggled defensively the past two games, and they remain an injured team – though quarterback Trevor Lawrence practiced full this week after practicing sparingly entering a loss to the Cleveland Browns this past Sunday. Lawrence was limited because of a high-ankle sprain sustained against Cincinnati six days earlier.

What mostly makes this matchup difficult is that the Ravens are the AFC's best team entering the game. They lead the conference's best division, the AFC North, and they hold the conference's best record at 10-3 with four regular-season games remaining.

The Ravens are tough on defense, dynamic on offense, and they have earned their status as potential Super Bowl favorites. Beating them isn't impossible for the Jaguars. It would be impressive.

Here are 10 things they must do to do it:

  1. Slow the run. It's probably unrealistic to completely stop the Ravens from running. They're the NFL's No. 1-ranked running offense, consistently running well the last several seasons. But the Jaguars have been very good against the run much of the season. The Jaguars must do well enough here to force second-and-third and longs to keep the Ravens uncomfortable.
  2. Contain Jackson. Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, the 2019 NFL Most Valuable Player, is perhaps more dangerous as a passer than he ever has been in six NFL seasons. But he's still dangerous running. The positive for the Jaguars here: They have done well containing mobile quarterbacks this season.
  3. Shut out the noise. There has been "noise" in the system around the Jaguars after two consecutive losses. This noise has little to do with reality. The Jaguars are 8-5. They must play like the team that won the eight games.
  4. Run. The Jaguars have struggled to run at times this season, particularly the last three weeks. It may not be realistic to dominate in this area Sunday night because the Ravens are really good defensively. But the Jaguars must run well enough to make the Ravens worry about it.
  5. Protect Lawrence. The Jaguars have been OK here in recent weeks, at least until they have had to throw to catch up late in games. They must be better than OK Sunday against a Ravens team that leads the NFL in sacks.
  6. Feed off the crowd. The Jaguars are 2-4 at home this season. That's not good enough. But the EverBank Stadium crowd has waited a looooooong time for a Sunday Night Football home game. They will be ready. They will be raucous. Homefield is an advantage. The Jaguars must play like it.
  7. Protect the ball. Among the myriad reasons the Jaguars lost to the Browns last week: Four turnovers by the Jaguars offense. The Jaguars fought throughout and lost by four points. If they give the ball away like that Sunday, it likely won't be that close.
  8. Cut down the mistakes. Turnovers weren't the only sloppy area offensively last week. The Jaguars have committed eight pre-snap penalties – false starts and delay of game – in the last two games, including five against the Browns. Those penalties are hard to overcome and lead to offensive inconsistency.
  9. Turn the ball over. This remains the pillar on which the Jaguars' defense stands. They were one of the NFL's best teams forcing takeaways last season and are one of the league's best this season. In a game as big as Sunday's – against an opponent as good as the Ravens – they must depend on that pillar.
  10. Just win. This is a "find-a-way" game. The Ravens on paper have the edge. The Jaguars enter the game with little momentum. But if they win, they're very much in control of the South with a very real chance at the AFC's No. 1 seed. Find a way. Just win.

Jaguars are working hard to get ready for Sunday Night Football 🌙  Check out top practice photos from the Miller Electric Center in Jacksonville, FL. Jaguars play the Ravens Sunday night in EverBank Stadium. Be here, be loud and go Jags! 

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