Lions vs. Jaguars: A Matchup Preview

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Lions vs. Jaguars: A Matchup Preview
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
Mincey will need to get a little closer to Stafford for the Jaguars to win.

The battle of the big cats may not be a Week 9 headliner, but it's an important game for both teams.

The Detroit Lions bring their 3-4 record and razor-thin playoff hopes to Jacksonville to take on the 1-6 Jaguars.

Here's everything you need to know about the game.

 

What it Means

For Detroit, a win would even its record and keep alive its flickering playoff chances. The Lions only have three games in which they'll be favored the rest of the year, so that makes a visit to Jacksonville a must-win.

The Jaguars have laid three consecutive eggs at home, and the fans have had enough.

The Jags need a strong performance, or it could get ugly quick. With two home games in four days, the Jaguars may not be able to save their season, but they could at least make an argument that they are improving.

 

Stat that Matters

2 and 16

The Detroit Lions rank second in the NFL in passing yards per game.

The rank 16th in net yards per attempt.

For all the hype about the Lions passing attack, they are only an average passing team.

They throw the ball often and pile up a lot of yards, but on a per-play basis, they are closer to the middle of the pack. This is a team that can be slowed.

 

Biggest Advantage for Jacksonville

With Maurice Jones-Drew out and Rashad Jennings struggling on the ground, the Jaguars have to be relieved to see a weak pass defense come to down.

While Jacksonville has the second-least efficient pass offense in football, Blaine Gabbert did throw some pretty deep balls against Green Bay.

The Jaguars aren't good at much, but Cecil Shorts has been effective on deep passes, so the Jaguars need to hope to hit big plays, as they've not been good at sustaining drives.

We haven't seen much of Shorts in the red zone in a while.

 

Biggest Advantage for Detroit

Jacksonville's defensive line has played better in recent weeks, but the Lions are among the better pass-blocking units in the game, and the Jaguars pass rush still languishes at the bottom of adjusted sack rate.

With Derek Cox and Rashean Mathis both potentially out against Matt Stafford, Calvin Johnson and Mike Thomas (I kid, I kid), the Jaguars could be in for a long day of chasing receivers around while Stafford has plenty of time to throw.

Johnson has been battling knee injuries, but he's always a fearsome weapon. At this point, it's a race to see which team fields the healthier unit, the Jaguars corners or the Lions wideouts.

They can't give Stafford the kind of time you see at the start of this film, or the result will be the same.

 

Best Video Only Tangentially Related to the Game

Mad Max Times. Oh man, that's lovely.

 

The Jaguars Will Win If...

the defense plays Stafford as well as it did Aaron Rodgers.

That was a phenomenal effort from the Jaguars defense against the Packers in Week 8, but they are going to have to string together consecutive performances like that to start putting up wins.

This is not an unwinnable game for the Packers. Detroit is mediocre in many respects, and it can be beaten. It's going to take the Jaguars' best effort, however, to pull it off.

 

The Lions Will Win If...

Stafford doesn't turn the ball over.

What kept the Jaguars hanging around in the Packers game was the big fumble by Rodgers deep in Packers' territory.

The Jacksonville offense did not perform well in the red zone. They are struggling to run the ball, and Gabbert can't be counted on to deliver consistently.

Detroit has roughly the same quality run defense as the Packers, but a lesser ability to stop the pass. It needs to keep pressure on Gabbert and force him to have long, grinding drives. Eventually, he'll miss an open man and the drive will stall.

This should be a high-scoring afternoon for the Lions, so as long as they don't hand points to the Jaguars, they should prevail.

 

Outlook

This game will be closer than people might think. The Jaguars feel like they are about to break through, and it's likely they win one of their two home games next week.

It's probably not going to be this one, however.

Detroit has too much offense.

Lions 24 Jaguars 19

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