What: Jacksonville Jaguars (8-4) vs. Seattle Seahawks (8-4)
Where: EverBank Field, Jacksonville
When: 4:25 p.m.
Latest line/Over-under: Jaguars -2.5/40
Why you should watch
Could this be a preview of Super Bowl LII? You’re not like to find many who would go so far as to suggest that, but it is a matchup of not just two playoff contenders, but two potential division champions. It’s also a matchup featuring one of the current favorites for the NFL’s MVP Award (Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson) and one of the current favorites for the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year Award (Jaguars defensive end Calais Campbell). The bottom line here is that this is one good matchup of two teams playing some very good football, and the outcome may tell us a lot about just how far these two teams can go this year. No one is quite ready to say the Seahawks and Jaguars are the best teams in their respective conferences but they’re in the conversation and that conversation could expand after this one is settled.
Key on: Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette
Fournette just hasn’t been the same since he came back from the ankle injury he suffered several weeks back. In the four games he’s played since that return he has yet to average more than 4 yards per carry in any one game and has twice been held to a 2-yards-per-carry average. Fournette says the ankle is not the problem and there’s no reason to doubt him because he doesn’t seem to be favoring it in any way and his workload has not been reduced. The problem is that opponents have caught on to what the Jaguars are doing by leaning so much on the run, so they’ve been stacking the box in an effort to stop Fournette and put the game on quarterback Blake Bortles shoulders. The Seahawks are sure to do the same, but at some point Fournette and the Jags are going to have to figure out a way to move the ball effectively against those stacked boxes or the odds of riding deep into the playoffs are going to wind up being stacked against them.
The Jaguars are getting a superb season out of right tackle Jeremy Parnell, especially from a pass-protection standpoint. According to Pro Football Focus, Parnell has yet to allow a sack this year despite having played more than 300 pass-blocking snaps. He’s the only right tackle in the league not to allow a sack across that many pass-blocking snaps and if he can keep it up for another 70 snaps he will become the first right tackle in the PFF Era, which began in 2006, to have played more than 370 pass-blocking snaps without allowing a sack. That’s pretty good stuff, but Parnell has his work cut out for him this week as he’s likely to see a lot of Seahawks end Michael Bennett. Bennett has 7.5 sacks this year and has proved to be at his best in the fourth quarter, where he has 2.5 sacks, nine quarterback hits and 15 QB hurries for a league-leading 26 fourth-quarter pressures.
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