4 keys for Jaguars to beat Panthers
Jags trying to achieve winning record for first time in more than a year
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The last time the Jaguars had a winning record was the week following the loss to the Chiefs in Kansas City last year. That loss at Arrowhead was the first of seven straight defeats and the Jaguars haven't been north of the .500 mark ever since. Sunday, they can end that streak if they can beat the Panthers in Carolina. Here are my four keys to the game:
Contain Christian McCaffrey. The NFL's leading rusher is also on pace for his second straight 100 reception season. McCaffrey may be the NFL's most overlooked offensive weapons. The Jaguars have not been as stout against the run as they would like. Some of the issues have been up front with the defensive line getting out of their lanes. This is a Jaguars defense that can be dominant against the run, even with a rookie at linebacker. They played well against Derrick Henry in Week 3, but McCaffrey is a different kind of runner. Stopping him is job one for the Jaguars.
Run the ball. It's a simple piece of the winning formula and has been for a long time. While more teams focus on the pass, the Jaguars showed against Denver that they have to win on the ground in order to be at their best. Yes, Gardner Minshew has been impressive in the first month of his rookie year, but the Jaguars' third quarter against the Broncos showed what this team wants to be. Leonard Fournette must continue to show that he's going to be a workhorse running back for the Jaguars to be playoff contenders.
Rush the passer. The Jaguars enter Week 5 tied for sixth in the league with 13 sacks. They have come in bunches. Last week against Denver, the Jaguars didn't sack Joe Flacco once. That shouldn't happen. Facing a young quarterback like Kyle Allen, pressure can change the game. Carolina is surrendering nearly three sacks per game, so the opportunities should be there.
Early success. The Jaguars and specifically, Gardner Minshew, have shown the ability to come from behind to win. They did it twice last week. However, tempting fate on the road again is not the best approach. If the Jaguars can get the running game going early and take a lead in the first half, they can be on their way to their first winning record, and assure themselves of remaining in first place in the AFC South.
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