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Jaguars have to get off the field on 3rd down

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When the TV announcers say their keys to the game and what a team needs to do, it always annoys me because they say the most obvious things. Well I'm going to be that guy and say that my key to the game is for the Jaguars to stop the Saints on third down.

That's essentially the key to stopping any offense, but against the Saints that will be especially true. The Saints are converting 57% of their third downs so far in 2011. That ranks second in the NFL, but to put it in perspective the Saints led the league in third down conversions with 49% in 2010. They have managed to continue drives and keep defenses for long periods of time while they march towards the endzone.

As with just about every other defensive statistic, the Jaguars have fared fairly well against teams in third down situations. They have allowed 33% of third downs to be converted when they are on defense.

So while this is far from being a case of an unstoppable force facing an immovable object, something is going to have to give and one team is going to do better than the other. If the Jaguars allow the Saints to continue to convert more than half of their third down attempts the Saints could be well on their way towards the 35 points they've averaged per game so far in 2011.