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 favored by 3 points against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 4, according to our friends at DraftKings Sportsbook.
Which offensive player on the Falcons will have the biggest impact?
Mark Dhooge: The Falcons offense runs through Bijan Robinson. He’s an exceptional talent the Jaguars are going to be hard-pressed to contain. He’ll get his yards but the Jags defense needs to keep him out of the end zone.
Joseph Henry: I’m not sleeping on Tyler Allgeier. The Falcons running back has fallen a little deeper in Bijan Robinson’s shadow since Week 1, but Allgeier still has 38 carries on the season so far. Plus, he is leading Atlanta in broken tackles and yards after contact. Robinson is the bigger name, and I won’t diminish how big of an impact he can have, but Allgeier is a really solid back and one I think the Jaguars might overlook.
Travis Holmes: Seeing that Atlanta has struggled to pass the ball as of late, this feels like the type of lower-scoring, ball-control game that will lean towards Bijan Robinson being the one player that gives the Falcons a chance to walk away with a win. Throughout the first three weeks, the Jaguars defense has been pretty strong versus the run, however. Robinson will be their most explosive matchup, to date.
Gus Logue: Bijan Robinson. He’s tied with Kyle Pitts for the team lead for targets, and Robinson is the only Falcon with double-digit receptions so far this season. Through three games, the seventh-overall pick is fifth among all running backs in yards from scrimmage. Pitts and Drake London are also good enough to be game-breakers but Robinson is the only one being utilized as such.
Adam Snowden: I’ll suggest a dark horse candidate: Mack Hollins. If the Jaguars’ secondary focuses on Drake London, Ridder will likely look to Hollins, a receiver with sneaky good hands and deep-threat capability. Would I place my money on him breaking out? No. But like last week with CJ Stroud, I have a funny feeling Hollins will make a big play or two this weekend.
Henry Zimmer: I think Bijan Robinson is the obvious answer for who will have a big game, but Tyler Allgeier may be the guy who really shines. Allgeier is not on pace to eclipse his 1,000 yards from last year, but in cleanup duties for Robinson, may be able to catch the Jags’ defense off guard.
What will be the key matchup in this game?
Mark: Offensively, the matchup I’m most interested in watching is Calvin Ridley vs. the play calling. The Jaguars have to get Ridley going early. No matter the matchup, if he’s doubled or not, Doug Pederson and Press Taylor have to make it a priority to get him the ball. The key to getting this offense to the next level runs through Ridley, and it’s up to him and the coaches. Drops have been an issue, but let’s hope a trip across the pond helps Ridley knock off some of that rust.
Joseph: The Jaguars’ offensive line better know where Grady Jarrett is on every snap. The veteran pass rusher is next up in a season that has already been chock-full of imposing defensive line threats. Jarrett, who leads the Falcons in quarterback pressures with seven, is no stranger to playing all across the defensive line. The whole unit needs to be up to the task. However, I feel this could be another week where rookie right tackle Anton Harrison gets tested big time.
Travis: With the Jags’ current offensive struggles, the strength of Atlanta falling on their defense, and their own offensive struggles, I would place the primary matchup in this one squarely on the Jaguars’ defensive front versus the Falcons’ offensive line. Will the Jaguars be able to have even a semblance of a pass rush when facing a team that was just sacked seven times by the Detroit Lions? Will they be able to force Ridder to do the one thing he seems to severely dread - throwing the ball downfield?
Gus: Evan Engram against whoever lines up across from him. The Falcons present tough matchups against Travis Etienne and Calvin Ridley, with a physical defensive approach and star power in both the front end in Grady Jarrett and the back end in A.J. Terrell. But in the middle of the field, Atlanta’s defense -- which plays man coverage at the fourth-highest clip in the league -- could struggle to keep up with Engram. The Dirty Birds have allowed the fourth-most receptions to tight ends this year after Detroit’s Sam LaPorta just put up eight catches for 84 yards and a score in his third career game.
Adam: Cornerback A.J. Terrell (and safety Jessie Bates) vs. Calvin Ridley. Both Terrell and Bates have impressed in coverage this season, and the Jags have struggled to get the passing game going for multiple weeks in a row. When he is “on”, Ridley is the best pass-catcher on the team, and getting him back on track will be key to rejuvenating this offense.
Henry: What can Desmond Ridder really do? Ridder passing against the Jaguars’ secondary should be a recipe for success for guys like Tyson Campbell or Andre Cisco. Kyle Pitts is always an afterthought and if Campbell clamps down on Drake London, I just cannot imagine a scenario where the Ridder to Mack Hollins connection breaks this defense.
Final score prediction?
Mark: Jaguars 27, Falcons 21
Joseph: Jaguars 23, Falcons 13
Travis: Falcons 23, Jaguars 20
Gus: Jaguars 21, Falcons 20
Adam: Jaguars 27, Falcons 17
Henry: Jaguars 28, Falcons 21
Here are our staff’s Tallysight picks for the full slate of games this week.
What are your Week 4 predictions, Jaguars fans? Let us know in the comments!