Welcome to Big Cat Country’s weekly roundtable, where our staff previews each Jacksonville Jaguars game and makes picks for each NFL game. The Jaguars are underdogs of 3.5 points against the Cleveland Browns in Week 14, according to DraftKings Sportsbook.
What are your expectations for the Jaguars’ offense this week against a Browns defense ranked first in yards allowed, in rainy Cleveland conditions, and without Christian Kirk (and possibly Trevor Lawrence and Walker Little)?
Dillon Appleman: Expecting anything more than a struggle is very optimistic right now. The run game has been non-existent for Jacksonville of late (85ypg on the ground since the bye) and I don’t expect that to change Sunday. The only thing that’s been working offensively is the downfield passing attack, but without Lawrence and Kirk, those plays will be hard to come by in Cleveland. I’m hopeful that the offense will rise to the occasion for Trev, but it will be an uphill battle to score points.
Caitlin Connor: My expectations are for both the run game and passing game to have a big day, more so from the running game. I’m hoping we see big numbers from Etienne, Engram, Zay, Ridley, and Johnson.
Jefferson Gibson: This Jaguars offense will have to play like it is an AFC North and not an AFC South team come Sunday. Myles Garrett and the Browns' defense is a force to be reckoned with. If the offense wants to have success, an emphasis will have to be placed on running the ball and tight ends or wideouts catching short-to-intermediate routes. Etienne cannot do it all; expect either Tank Bigsby or D’Ernest Johnson to have a great day on the field.
Travis Holmes: I expect Sunday to be a painful watch offensively for both teams in what I’m calling Flacco versus Beathard, ”The Drain-O Back-up Bowl.” I reasonably can’t expect the passing offense to run as well as it would with Trevor Lawrence and Kirk likely inactive and this is unlikely to be the matchup where the Jaguars’ struggles running the ball resolves itself. Inside offensive line help is not on the way, and I see this game as a race to 17 for both squads.
Gus Logue: I don’t have very high expectations for Sunday. Whether Trevor Lawrence or C.J. Beathard starts at quarterback, the Jaguars will be without Christian Kirk and likely Walker Little. The offense will not be at full strength against a top-ranked Browns defense; a scary proposition even if Myles Garrett isn’t fully healthy either.
Henry Zimmer: It might get uglier before it gets better for the Jags, I am afraid. If the team has been unable to run the ball at full health, then they probably have no chance to do so with a team and conditions that scream running the ball. Sunday could very well be worse than Monday.
Monday’s outing was the Jaguars’ worst defensive performance under Mike Caldwell. Will that side of the ball right the ship?
Dillon: In a matchup against Joe Flacco and Kareem Hunt in the year 2023, I sure hope the defense can come out and make up for an abysmal outing against Cincinnati. Caldwell’s emphasis going into this one should be discipline as his unit will need to play mistake-free football to make things easier on a patchwork offense.
Caitlin: I think Monday was an unfortunate and unexpected anomaly from the defense. I think they’ll be back on track Sunday. Hopefully Campbell and Hamilton have had more time to adjust back into their roles.
Jefferson: I believe that the defense performance was an absolute fluke, to say the least. This team is much better than that, and we know that because of what we have seen all season. Watching the film, it looked like there were a lot of missed tackles and missed communication that gave Jake Browning the ability to look like prime Joe Montana. Caldwell is a good coach, has been in these situations before as a player himself, and knows what it takes to turn this thing around. The defense will have to play inspired, motivated, and want to hit the other guy hard if the Jaguars want to win this game in Cleveland.
Travis: In some ways, I believe the defense will play better, simply because they’re not playing as skilled a wide receiver group. However, there were some schematic things that the Bengals consistently did out of 12 personnel on early downs that teams with three quality pass catchers will likely mimic in the coming games. Unfortunately, Cleveland is not one of those teams with the personnel to present that problem, in my opinion. I see a get-right game defensively on the horizon this Sunday.
Gus: The defense will be fine if/when the secondary gets healthy. Tyson Campbell has dealt with leg issues since Week 5, Andre Cisco has also been nicked up a few times, and now Tre Herndon is in concussion protocol. I’m afraid Joe Flacco could put up some points if Campbell and Herndon aren’t able to go on Sunday.
Henry: The defense will probably look more adept against a Joe Flacco-led offense, even though Flacco has done decently in his short time in Cleveland. Again, with a day that looks like it is going to come down to running the ball, the Jags’ defense is going to have to lock in. It very well could, but it likely won’t be enough.
Final score prediction?
Dillon: Jaguars 16, Browns 14
Caitlin: Jaguars 24, Browns 16
Jefferson: Jaguars 17, Browns 16
Travis: Jaguars 23, Browns 16
Gus: Browns 16, Jaguars 13
Henry: Browns 18, Jaguars 8
Here are our staff’s Tallysight picks for the full slate of games this week.
What are your Week 14 predictions, Jaguars fans? Let us know in the comments!