Benny Sieu-US PRESSWIRE
The 1-6 Jaguars have looked much better since the bye week, but can they finally put it all together and upset the struggling 3-4 Lions on Sunday?
The Jacksonville Jaguars looked like they could have won their last two games, but in neither game could they close out the deal. Against the Oakland Raiders the offense went off a cliff when Blaine Gabbert went down with an injury and against the Green Bay Packers the team couldn't get past the endzone forcefield, not to mention mistakes on special teams and costly penalties.
The Jaguars will return home to EverBank Field on Sunday hoping to not get run out of the stadium again, as they have all season when at The Bank. In the team's home games, they've been outscored 95-20 and are winless in the regular season at EverBank Field. The Lions present a decent chance to reverse that however, so long as the same Jaguars team that's shown up the past two weeks comes to play on Sunday. The bye week looked as if it was a good time for the team to reset mentally and they've been better, but now they need to pull out a win.
Meet the Lions
The Detroit Lions are coming off a 28-24 win over the Seattle Seahawks that required some late game heroics to avoid their second loss in a row, with Matthew Stafford hitting Titus Young in the endzone for the go-ahead touchdown with just 20 seconds left in the game to beat Seattle. The Lions offense has dealt with injury after injury at the running back position and have relied on Stafford's arm to get things done on the season.
The Lions have allowed nearly 300 yards of offense the past two weeks, dealing with injuries to their defensive backfield. The Lions are so hurt to the point now to where they signed former Jaguars safety Don Carey the week leading up to the game and have placed rookie corner Bill Bentley on injured reserve. The Seahawks were able to pass for nearly 300 yards on Sunday, so it could be another shot for Blaine Gabbert to have another good day if the offensive line can keep the Lions pass rush in check.
Meet the Jaguars
Jaguars second-year quarterback Blaine Gabbert has looked much improved the past two weeks coming out of the bye, but he's playing with a reported torn rotator cuff in his non-throwing should, but that didn't seem to affect him too much against the Green Bay Packers, where he had the best performance of his career. Gabbert is looking to make it three straight "games" where he looks like an effective NFL passer, and without Maurice Jones-Drew in the lineup, the Jaguars will need him to be.
On the defensive side of the ball the Jaguars will once again need to put pressure on the quarterback to ease the losses of Derek Cox and Rashean Mathis in the backfield. Both players are dealing with injuries that will keep them limited, if not out of the game entirely. Aaron Ross, William Middleton, and rookie Mike Harris did a nice job limiting Aaron Rodgers in their absence last week, so they'll need to play just as well again against Matthew Stafford.
Local Takes: Lions
Jeremy Reisman from Pride of Detroit says the Lions offensive struggles have put their offensive coordinator on the chopping block:
The Lions' offensive struggle through the first six games had Scott Linehan on the hot seat. Despite the Lions having a top 10 offense, they weren't putting up the points and wins that defined the 2011 Detroit Lions. But on Sunday, Linehan responded with an excellent game. In key moments, he called the right plays and drew up some effective plays we haven't seen.
Local Takes: Jaguars
Adam Stites of Big Cat Country says the Jaguars offense has looked better without Maurice Jones-Drew in the lineup, and wonders if it's all just a coincidence:
Think about the times at which Blaine Gabbert has been at his best this season. Against the Packers with Jones-Drew on the sideline, in the first half against the Raiders after Jones-Drew got injured early, in the first half of Week 1 against the Vikings whenRashad Jennings earned the starting spot and in preseason when Jones-Drew was holding out.
Follow the Fun
Be sure to check out SB Nation's team blogs, Pride of Detroit, Big Cat Country (as always), for more analysis and highlights from the game.
Add these fine follows to your Twitter timeline:
Pride of Detroit, @PrideOfDetroit
Big Cat Country manager, @AdamBCC
Lions beat writer, @DaveBirkett
Mayhew said he sees Thomas "as an offensive utility player for us and also special-teams guy."— Dave Birkett (@davebirkett) November 1, 2012
Jaguars beat writer, @RyanOHalloran
Off first 5 Wednesdays of year, Alualu will work for second straight Wed. Says knee feels good, convinced coaches. #jaguars— Ryan O'Halloran (@ryanohalloran) October 31, 2012
SB Nation Prediction
The only thing that would make this game entertaining is if Tim Tebow lined up at quarterback for the Jaguars. But no, that's not happening. All of the Lions losses this season have come by just one score. They're better than their 3-4 record indicates.
The pick: 24-13, Lions
Odds from the OddsShark staff:
The Jacksonville Jaguars will try to avoid losing their fifth straight game Sunday with an upset win over the Detroit Lions at Everbank Field. The Jaguars will still be without running back Maurice Jones-Drew who is out with a foot injury. Detroit has shaken off its slow start and is 2-1 SU and 2-0-1 ATs over its last three games. The Jaguars are 2-5 SU and ATS over their last seven games at home including an 0-3 SU and ATS home record this season.
My prediction: Jaguars 20, Lions 16