The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be in Jacksonville this weekend to take on their cross state rivals and will be trying to get a second consecutive win for the first time this season and the first time in the Bruce Arians era.
The Bucs are 4-7 on the season and are coming off their most complete win of the season 35-22 against the Atlanta Falcons. The offense, defense, and special teams all contributed to the win for the first time this season.
The Jaguars are a disappointing 4-7 and are coming off a blowout loss in Nashville to the Titans 42-20.
The Jaguars have lost three in a row and head coach Doug Marrone is on the hot seat as the losses have mounted.
The defense which has been the strength of the Jaguars in recent years have given up 101 points in the last three games and in this game against the Buccaneers, the Jaguars will be without two of their best defenders.
Safety Ronnie Harrison who is concussion protocol, and linebacker Myles Jack who is out with a knee injury will miss Sundays game.
Asked about the injuries on the defense, Jaguars defensive coordinator Todd Wash did not mince any words and is not using the injuries as an excuse for the losses. “To me its not an excuse. We have to play better and we have to coach better regardless of the 11 that are on the grass. We have confidence with the ones that we put out there and we just have to do a better job of executing.”
Jaguars Executive Vice President Tom Coughlin also chimed in this week saying that there is no excuse for the 4-7 record and the responsibility falls on every one in the organization to fix the problems.
As the losses have mounted coach Doug Marrone is taking a lot of the blame despite the injuries on the defensive side of the ball. It’s not so much the losses, its the way the Jags have lost. Getting blown out three consecutive weeks.
The Jags could start six undrafted players against the Buccaneers on defense on Sunday.
The Jags defense has given up 423 yards a game during the three game losing streak and will be facing a high powered Buccaneer offense that can score a lot of points.
The Jaguars have a very good front seven anchored by the defensive line of Calais Campbell, Yannick Ngakue, and rookie Josh Allen. This line has caused a lot of problems for opposing quarterbacks this season as they have combined for 19.5 sacks and seven forced fumbles.
Last week against the Falcons, the Bucs offensive line did not allow Winston to be sacked and he was hit once all game in the pocket.
Led by quarterback Jameis Winston, the Bucs are averaging 28 points a game and putting up 386 yards a game on offense, good for 4th in the NFL.
Winston has thrown for over 300 yards in six straight games, but also turns the ball over too much as leads the league with 20 interceptions and 24 turnovers.
You never know which Jameis Winston will show up on any given Sunday. The good Winston that will make plays with his feet and his arm minimizing the turnovers, or the Winston that threw five interceptions against Carolina, and four interceptions against New Orleans.
Winston has the best wide receiver duo in the league in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin as both receivers have gone over 1,000 yards receiving on the season.
Godwin leads the league with nine touchdown catches, and is second in the league with 1,071 yards receiving.
The Bucs running game of Ronald Jones and Peyton Barber has been mediocre for the Bucs this season despite Bruce Arians saying that he has been pleased with the running game.
The Jags defense has given up 200 yards a game on the ground in their last three games and this is a game that the Bucs should be able to get that running game going.
The Bucs defense will face a big bruising running back in Leonard Fournette who has 951 yards on the season and averages 4.6 yards a carry.
Arians compared Fournette to Todd Gurley in running style and in the way they play the game earlier this week when asked about Leonard Fournette.
Stopping Fournette will be a major focus for the Bucs defense this week. They have done a good job containing the top running backs in the league that they faced this season.
Christian McCaffrey, Todd Gurley, and Saquon Barkley have all been held to under 100 yards in total offense this season in games played against the Bucs defense.
The Bucs run defense being solid all season, its the pass defense that has really hurt Tampa Bay.
The Bucs defense is giving up 290 yards a game in the air and that ranks 31st in the league.
Last week against the Falcons, the Bucs secondary had one interception by Carlton Davis, but had their hands on at least five other balls and couldn’t hang on to make the interception.
Three keys to watch for during this game.
1. Look for Jameis Winston and his receivers to have a huge game against this banged up Jags defense.
2. The Jags defense is giving up 200 yards a game the last three weeks on the ground, so look for Ronald Jones to be the first Buccaneer back this season to run for over 100 yards.
3. If the Jaguars are going to have a chance to win, that defensive line is going to have to pressure Jameis Winston early and send a message that this is going to be a long afternoon for Mr. Winston.
The Bucs are 1.5 point favorites in this game. The Bucs have a lot of offensive fire power and that will be too much for this banged up Jags defense too handle.
The Buccaneers will win their second game in a row for the first time this season as they will win this one easily 38-18.