|Date:||January 3rd, 2010
|Time:||1 PM EST
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|SBN Coverage:||Dawgs By Nature||Coverage Map
The 7-8 Jaguars travel to the shores of Lake Erie to take on the suddenly resurgent Cleveland Browns. The Jaguars had a Dallas Cowboy-esque December, going 1-3 and virtually playing themselves out of the playoffs. However, they still have a chance to get to 8-8, a mark we all would've taken if asked during the preseason.
There have been numerous articles speculation on whether or not Jack Del Rio will be a causality of Black Monday. I've said all year that if Del Rio gets to 8-8, his job is safe no matter what and I'm sticking with that. However, I have said 7-9 would make management look at the circumstances with Del Rio. If the Jaguars lose this game, then for the 2nd time in four years, the Jaguars would've had a complete collapse with the playoffs on the line.
Maurice Jones-Drew looks to set the franchise's record for total touchdowns in a single season, needing two to break Fred Taylor's 1998 record. So, will the Jaguars leave Cleveland with an 8-8 record to build on or a 7-9 mark that leaves many more questions than answers?
Jaguars Offense vs Browns Defense
The Jaguars may have found the perfect answer to cure the offensive foes from last week. The Browns rank dead last in the NFL in total defense, giving up 393.4 yards per game, and points per game. While the Browns have improved in their three game winning streak, it's only truly impressive win was against Steelers team that had the bottom falling out.
For the Jaguars, establishing Maurice Jones-Drew will be a must. It will feel like it's 19 degrees at kickoff with the wind chill to go along with wind speeds in the high teens and low twenties. In other words, the exact opposite conditions you would want to try to throw the football in. MJD is going to the Pro Bowl, despite some talking heads saying Cedric Benson deserved it more. I think he would like to show them exactly why he got in.
In addition, Maurice Jones-Drew needs to show his second half slide was an apparition and hopefully not a sign of things to come. 8 games into the year, MJD was on pace for 1,600 yards and 23 touchdowns, but fell short of that. Even a 150 yard 2 touchdown game would give him 1,450 yards and 17 touchdowns for the year. Those are impressive numbers, but Fred Taylor was famous for being his best in November and December.
As Brian said earlier, the rookies will need to make plays today in order to win. With Marcedes Lewis out, rookie Zach Miller will be counted on to pick up yards from the TE position. 4th round pick Mike Thomas is going to have to fill in for Torry Holt.
Browns Offense vs Jaguars Defense
What happens when an object that can't move meets an object that is used to getting pushed around? That is the dilemma that meets the Browns offense and the Jaguars defense.
Derek Anderson returns to action for the Browns in place of Brady Quinn, who is on IR. Anderson led the Browns to their best season in years in 2007, but has since slid back along with the rest of the team.
The Browns main passing threats of years passed have gone on to find new homes via trade. Kellen Winslow is with the even more hapless Bucs while Braylon Edwards was sent to New York just to shut him up. No word on whether or not he dropped his plane tickets on the way there.
As a result, the Browns rank last in the NFL in passing the football. However, this is a Jaguars defense that loves nothing more than to allow quarterbacks to have their moment in the sun. Coupled with Rashean Mathis being out on Sunday, and the Jaguars will still have their work cut out for them.
Don't expect the Jaguars pass rush woes to be cured. The Browns have given up the 10th fewest sacks in the NFL this season and Jacksonville hasn't shown it can ever rise to that kind of occassion.
The one bright spot for the Browns on offense is their rushing attack. Cleveland ranks 10th in the NFL in rushing, and the Jaguars will expect to see alot of it in the conditions on Sunday. Jerome Harrision has been the major force for the Browns rushing attack, and he must be stopped if the Jaguars want to keep their perfect mark in Cleveland.
However, the Browns primary offense is Mr.Everything Josh Cribbs. Cribbs has surpassed Devin Hester as the most electric return man in the NFL, taking four kick returns for TDs this year alone. He is averaging a gaudy 12.4 yards per punt return to boot. The more punts go to the sidelines and kickoffs go into the endzone, the better off the Jaguars will be.
Player On The Hot Seat
Mike Thomas, WR
The Jaguars are going to have to throw occasionally, and Thomas will need to show Cleveland that he deserves attention as well. He has been playing well out of the slot, but I'm sure he'll be anxious to prove himself as a starter.
Jacksonville Jaguars 27
Cleveland Browns 10