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Jacksonville Jaguars

GameDay – Jaguars take on Rams in battle of surprise teams

Roy Cummings

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What: Jacksonville Jaguars (3-2) vs. Los Angeles Rams (3-2)

Where: EverBank Field, Jacksonville

When: 4:05 p.m. ET

Latest line/Over-under: Jaguars -2.5/42.5

Why it’s worth watching

Are the Jaguars for real? Are the Rams? No one outside of either Jacksonville or the Rams locker room expected much out of these two teams when the season began, but they currently stand as two of the surprise teams of the early going. The Jaguars are in first place in the AFC South for the first time since 2010 and the Rams are tied with the Seahawks for first in the NFC West. The Jaguars are getting it done the old-fashioned way, with a strong running attack and a defense that has become one of the best in the league at taking the ball away. The Rams run the ball well, too, but the key to their success so far has been the play of quarterback Jared Goff. Can Goff avoid falling into the trap Ben Roethlisberger (five picks) did a week ago against the Jaguars? Tune in and see.

Key on: Rams running back Todd Gurley

The Jaguars did a pretty good job of bottling up Le’Veon Bell and forcing the Steelers to throw during their stunning 30-9 win at Pittsburgh last week. They’ll need to do the same with Todd Gurley if they hope to beat the Rams. Gurley ranks third in the NFL in rushing yards with 405, 365 of which have come in the last four weeks. Even after their solid effort against the Steelers last week, the Jaguars still rank 31st in the NFL against the run so this is an area where they need to develop some consistency. If the Rams are allowed to run the ball and stay balanced on offense the Jaguars opportunity to force takeaways and turn the game in their favor will diminish and so too will their chances of winning.

 Statistically speaking

 Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp ranks second among all NFL rookies with 230 receiving yards and is tied for second among all rookies with two touchdown receptions. That’s impressive enough but even more impressive is the fact Kupp has already forced five missed tackles and that, according to Pro Football Focus, is not only the fifth-most among all wide receiver this season, it is also the fifth-most for a rookie wide receiver in the past 12 years. The Jaguars came off their five-pick game against the Steelers last week asking that their secondary be shown a little more respect. If they can avoid being juked out of their tackles by Kupp today they will have earned a little more of what they’re looking for.

Roy Cummings is a native of Chicago, Illinois who grew up in the suburb of Lombard. He and his family later moved to Lakeland, Florida, where Roy attended high school at Kathleen High. He graduated from the University of South Florida with a Bachelor's Degree in Mass Communications in 1983 and immediately went to work for the Tampa Tribune. After five years working in a Polk County bureau covering everything from high school sports to college football to the Orlando Magic of the NBA, Roy moved back to Tampa and became the Tribune's first beat writer for the Tampa Bay Lightning, covering the team from its inception through the first eight years on the ice. He was then moved to the Buccaneers beat, where he stayed until the paper was folded in May, 2016. A two-time Florida Sports Writer of the Year, Roy has extensive experience covering all Tampa professional sports teams, including the Tampa Bay Rays.

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