The Jacksonville Jaguars entertain the Detroit Lions this Sunday at TIAA Bankfield in a Week 6 NFL matchup.
The Lions are 1-3 and fresh from a bye in Week 5. Detroit has been productive on offense since the return of star receiver Kenny Golladay, but will be hoping to right their defensive frailties that saw them blow a 14-point lead at home against the New Orleans Saints in Week 4.
The Jaguars, at 1-4, have problems of their own: 'Minshew-mania' is beginning to slow down following four straight defeats with cult-hero quarterback Gardner Minshew.
Against the Houston Texans in Week 5, the Jags defense allowed Deshaun Watson to throw for 359 yards and three touchdowns. The short and simple of it is that they just have to do better this week as a collective; a LOT better.
Some of the Jaguars' offensive efforts bordered on comical, too, to be perfectly honest. (Did anyone see that *cough-cough* 'trick' play involving Minshew and RB James Robinson, the one that ended in a fumble? What was that?) Embarrassing stuff for Jacksonville Jaguars fans who -- despite their love for Minshew -- will be hoping for a much improved offensive outing.
In truth, this is a crunch game between two sides that have similarly poor records, that are both struggling to impose themselves on defense, that can both be special on offense, and that both desperately need to eke out a W somehow, so it has all the makings of a close contest (my favorite kind of NFL game).
Jacksonville Jaguars vs Detroit Lions Head to Head
The Jacksonville Jaguars have only met the Detroit Lions on six previous occasions, with the series currently tied at 3-3. It is worth noting that the Lions have come out winners in the two most recent meetings, though, including a 31-14 victory last time they came to Jacksonville in 2012.
Jacksonville Jaguars record in the league: W L L L L
Detroit Lions record in the league: L L W L
Jacksonville Jaguars vs Detroit Lions Team News
The Jacksonville Jaguars do have big injury concerns this week. Most pressingly, their two best receivers DJ Chark (ankle) and Lavishka Shenault Jr. (hamstring), who both sat out Wednesday's practice.
In what is an absolutely crunch game for the Jaguars' season, offensive coordinator Jay Gruden must have his fingers and toes crossed for their safe return to the lineup.
More positive news on the defensive side of things: LB Myles Jack, DE Josh Allen, and CB CJ Henderson all returned to a limited practice on Wednesday and are expected to play on Sunday.
Doubtful for Jaguars: DJ Chark, Lavishka Shenault Jr., Tyler Eiffert
For the Lions, longtime members of the IR club -- Joe Dahl, Mike Ford and Bo Scarborough -- have returned to practice but are not expected to play this week.
CB Desmond Trufant aggravated a hamstring injury against the Saints. He did not practice on Wednesday and must be considered doubtful against the Jaguars.
Rookie TE Hunter Bryant was also unable to practice due to a hamstring injury and concussion.
Doubtful: Desmond Trufant, Hunter Bryant
Out: Justin Coleman
Jacksonville Jaguars vs Detroit Lions Projected Starters
QB: Matthew Stafford
RB: Adrian Peterson, D'Andre Swift
WR: Kenny Golladay, Danny Amendola, Marvin Jones Jr.
TE: TJ Hockenson
QB: Gardner Minshew
RB: James Robinson, Chris Thompson
WR: Chris Conley, Keenan Cole Sr.
TE: Tyler Eifert
Jacksonville Jaguars vs Detroit Lions Prediction
This is tough game to call. The performances of Minshew have provided a beacon of hope for Jacksonville Jaguars fans, and the way he has linked up with Chark and Shenault this season has been exciting and productive. I do feel it will be hard going, even for 'the mustached one,' to go into a must-win game without either of his favorite targets. So fingers crossed, they beat this season's league-wide injury jinx and give the Jacksonville Jaguars a fair chance.
That being said, the Lions have one of the worst defenses against the run in the NFL, giving up 5.2 yards per carry. If Robinson can put last week's nightmare fumble behind him and get back to good form, there's a chance for Jacksonville on the ground.
The Lions are more than capable of rushing the football too, and both Adrian Peterson and D'Andre Swift are capable of yards and scores (something for fantasy league managers to ponder), so it's quite a close contest in this area at least.
The difference is Detroit QB Matthew Stafford and his connection downfield with Golladay. The Jaguars have been woeful in pass coverage. They're last in the league in yards per catch allowed (8.8) and rank 31st in pass defense.
If that duo can get going, it'll be a long afternoon for the Jacksonville Jaguars...
Prediction: Both teams are now reaching the stage of the season when a win is an absolute must; neither franchise can afford to lose too many more should they harbor any ambition to make the playoffs. So, I'm expecting a tight contest in some respect.
That being said, I do think the injuries suffered to the Jaguars receivers is bad news. They had an inferior offense even when all fit, and I'm just not convinced the void will be filled via the options on the depth chart.
For my money, Stafford and Golladay are too much for a sloppy Jaguars secondary.
Lions win, 31-23 (don't quote me...)Published 16 Oct 2020, 21:35 IST