Jacksonville Jaguars: Preparing for the Ravens
As if last week’s loss to division rival Houston wasn’t enough to deal with – having a halftime lead and losing momentum faster than a deflating balloon – the Jaguars now face Baltimore and its suffocating defense in head coach John Harbaugh. There are three games left in the team’s season and any kind of momentum would be much welcomed in the Jacksonville locker room.
The Jaguars must find a way to stop the run – especially with Justin Forsett and his legs churning out huge yards for the team, and then try and keep the passing offense with fleet receivers at bay. The Jaguars beat the Ravens 12-7 on a Thursday night four years ago when the team was in a situation of despair. This is not the same crossroads, but the team must gain some added measure of completion on both sides of the ball.
Here are a few things to look for in the matchup on Sunday, according to John Oehser and Jaguars.com.
The Ravens haven’t been dominant throughout this season, but they have been good.
They’ve been good enough to stay in contention in perhaps the NFL’s toughest division, and good enough to control their playoff destiny with three weeks remaining in the season.
The Ravens – winners of three of their last four games after a 5-4 start – on Sunday rallied from a 10-point deficit to beat the Miami Dolphins, 28-13, in Miami Gardens, Florida. While they’re currently the No. 7 seed in the AFC, they will earn at least a wild-card spot if they beat the Jaguars (2-11), Houston (7-6) and Cleveland (7-6) in their final three games.
The Ravens last season missed the playoffs for the first time since 2007, finishing with an 8-8 record after winning the Super Bowl the previous season.
Three matchups to watch:
Jaguars defensive tackles Sen’Derrick Marks and Roy Miller versus center Jeremy Zuttah and guards Marshall Yanda and Kelechi Osemele
This is strength versus strength. Miller and Marks have played at a consistently high level this season, with Miller particularly strong against the run and Marks leading the team with 8.5 sacks. The Jaguars’ defense has struggled against the run in recent weeks, and will need a higher level Sunday against a Ravens interior line that is as talented as any in the NFL.
Jaguars left tackle Luke Joeckel and right tackle Sam Young versus Ravens linebackers Elvis Dumervil and Terrell Suggs
The Jaguars’ offensive line versus the Ravens’ pass rush is a critical, difficult matchup for the Jaguars, particularly for the tackles. Joeckel has been solid as a run blocker, and though he played well when matched up against Texans defensive end J.J. Watt last week, he has allowed five sacks and 19 quarterback hits this season according to Pro Football Focus. Dumervil has set the Ravens team record with an NFL-leading 16 sacks in 13 games, and Suggs has 8.5 sacks this season. Dumervil had 3.5 sacks last week against Miami with Suggs registering 1.5.
Jaguars running backs versus Ravens middle linebacker C.J. Mosley
After averaging more than 100 yards rushing a game in Weeks 7-9, Robinson has struggled in recent weeks with defenses stacking the line of scrimmage. Mosley, the No. 17 overall selection in the 2014 NFL Draft, was the AFC’s Defensive Rookie of the Month for October and has started all 13 games this season. The Ravens rank No. 4 in the NFL against the run, and while they are without suspended tackle Haloti Ngata, they held the Dolphins to 63 yards rushing Sunday.