Our Jacksonville Jaguars are in the Crescent City for a Thursday night matchup against the New Orleans Saints. With only hours to go before kickoff, here are three keys to victory as we take into account the strengths, weaknesses, and, yes, injuries going into a short week.
The defense needs to keep doing what they’ve been doing.
New Orleans has been struggling on offense. They are near the bottom in most offensive categories, including being ranked 24th in points with 18.2 per game. There is even talk of offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael being relieved of playcalling duties. Conversely, the Jaguars are first in the league in turnovers and in the middle of the pack on total points allowed at 20.3 per game. With that said, the depth of both teams will be tested. Among others, the Saints will be missing two starting offensive linemen while the Jaguars will have top corner Tyson Campbell out with a hamstring injury.
The Jags’ offense has to keep the momentum going — despite injuries.
New Orleans is only giving up 16 points per game (sixth in the NFL). That’s more than a touchdown difference of 23.7 points the Jags are averaging. This is where coaching matters a lot. With no Zay Jones and Walker Little for a second game in a row, and questions about whether Trevor will suit up, offensive ooordinator Press Taylor and head coach Doug Pederson will be tested big time in the Big Easy. Look for a healthy dose of Travis Etienne, who could help take some pressure off Trevor Lawrence, quiet the crowd, and continue his current touchdown tear that includes four scores in his last two games.
Short week. Road game. Injuries.
If the Jaguars don’t play their best football of the year, it wouldn’t be overly surprising given the circumstances they’re facing. However, like what we saw in the final six games of 2022, they are riding a legit win streak and clearly gelling as a team. The offense is starting to string together long drives and convert in the red zone, and the defense has been a turnover-creating machine. Special teams has been flawless the past couple of weeks as well.
They are quickly turning into the Jaguars we all expected to see during the offseason. A good team could drop this game, and it could be excused. A great team that should be playing in the final game of the year comes out of this game with a W.
What other areas will decide the outcome of tonight’s game?