JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jaguars have had an interesting week, from clowns, to COVID, to the point where the matchup for Sunday was put on the backburner for most fans.
The Patriots are still in the playoff hunt and need a win. The Jaguars are one loss and a Lions win away from clinching the No. 1 overall pick for the second year in a row. That’s two franchises on very different paths who face off on Sunday. Seemingly the only thing they have in common is that both teams have a rookie quarterback leading the way. If the Jaguars are going to pull off the upset on Sunday here are the four things that will need to go their way.
Keep Trevor standing
The Jaguars had a major COVID-19 outbreak in the building this week. At one point, nearly 30 players were on the list. The Jaguars have gotten some players back but three starting offensive linemen will miss Sunday’s game (Ben Bartch, Cam Robinson and Brandon Linder). The Jaguars also placed top backup Will Richardson on injured reserve this week. That means Trevor Lawrence will be playing behind a very thin offensive line. That group will need to find a way to give the rookie QB some time to operate.
Avoid the rookie struggles
Bill Belichick has an outstanding record against rookie quarterbacks. Belichick was complimentary of Lawrence this week.
Updated Rookie QB stats vs Bill Belichick defenses since 2000:— Keagan Stiefel (@KeaganStiefel) December 30, 2021
Average QBR: 68.7
“He’s pretty good at all of them and continues to get better. I think he’s had a good year and I think he’ll be a solid NFL player, maybe great. I don’t know, but he’s certainly made a lot of progress this year,” he said.
That progress had not led to much in the stats department and Lawrence will surely have his hands full on Sunday.
Find a hidden gem
With more than a handful of players still on the COVID list, the Jaguars will have to depend on some young and unproven players. The team elevated nine players from the practice squad and presumably many of them will have a chance to play. A player seizing the moment would give the Jaguars a chance. It could be a player like Andre Cisco, Jeff Cotton Jr., or Ryquell Armstead.
As the Jaguars have shown all year long they need everything to go their way to get a win. This week, they are already in the negative column because of COVID. The Jaguars will need luck to be on their side to have a chance in this one.