The Jacksonville Jaguars host the San Francisco 49ers this afternoon for the first of a two-game homestand at EverBank Stadium. Although they’re set to play the role of home underdogs (+3) for the second time this season, the Jags are looking to extend their league-leading winning streak to six games while the Niners hope to end their three-game skid.
Contrary to San Francisco’s struggles of late, they’re still one of the most talented teams in the NFL and will present some tough challenges on both sides of the ball for Jacksonville. With those matchups in mind, let’s shed some light on some potential X-factors for the Jags that could dictate which direction this battle of playoff contenders will go.
The linebacker duo of Foyesade Oluokun and Devin Lloyd has been terrific all season for Jacksonville. Oluokun continues to be a tackling machine as he ranks third in the NFL with 97 on the year, while Lloyd has taken a huge step forward in his development after an up-and-down rookie season.
The #Jaguars spent big at ILB in 2022, throwing a bag at Foyesade Oluokun and trading up into the first for Devin Lloyd.— John Shipley (@_John_Shipley) October 25, 2023
In 2023, the investment is paying off, with Oluokun and Lloyd looking like one of the top LB duos in the NFL. Via @DanDGriffis https://t.co/hXuWcUi2DS
The two have been great in all facets of the position, but one stat stands out ahead of this matchup with the 49ers. To this point in the season, no linebacking tandem across the NFL has more pass deflections (11) than the Jags duo, and that’s with Lloyd having only played in six games.
The pressure they put on pass catchers in the middle of the field has shown up all year and it could play a huge role in this one as well. Kyle Shanahan’s offense traditionally likes to work that area quite a bit so I suspect there will be plenty of opportunity to get their hands on a few more balls with hopes of adding to the Jags league-leading takeaway numbers.
Calvin Ridley has had a solid start to his first season in Jacksonville, but his overall statistics don’t exactly jump off the page. Through eight games, Ridley has caught 33 balls for 451 yards and two touchdowns, none of which are team-leading numbers. The talented receiver commented on his start in Jacksonville this week when speaking with reporters saying “I’m happy” while showing appreciation for being back in the league on a good team, but he went on to say…
“It could be better. I definitely want to be doing, you know, amazing things like what I know I can, but we got another half of the season.”
Calvin Ridley has been with the Jaguars for 8 games. He has 33 catches and 451 yards.— Jamal St. Cyr (@JStCyrTV) November 9, 2023
Maybe not the start to his Jaguars career that he was hoping for but Ridley says he is "happy."
"It could be better. Definitely want to be doing amazing things like I know I can." pic.twitter.com/yF5AYsoLzU
Ridley sounds like he’s ready to kick things into the next gear to finish the year, as he seems eager to start making those “amazing” plays we were so accustomed to seeing during his time in Atlanta.
It’s a tough matchup for all of the receivers against this San Francisco secondary but if one of them was going to stand out, I believe it will be Ridley.
It’s no secret that Trevor Lawrence is ascending as one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL today. He’s been terrific over the last two seasons and has proven he can not only hurt opposing defenses with his arm, but his ability as a runner continues to show up in big spots.
In fact, Kyle Shanahan commented on just that during a presser this week noting that Lawrence is “always a problem” when he uses his legs.
Kyle Shanahan knows Trevor Lawrence can be a "problem at any time." pic.twitter.com/LBFjot6zJt— 49ers on NBCS (@NBCS49ers) November 8, 2023
Considering the talent the 49ers have off the edge, Lawrence’s ability as a runner could be a huge X-factor for the Jags. Most of Trevor’s damage in that department this season has been improvisation for the most part but don’t be surprised if we see Press Taylor emphasize getting his QB on the move with plenty of play-action, while also still dialing up some empty looks that could lead to some open field for Lawrence if the pass rush gets a little too high up field.
What are your X-factors for a Jags victory today?