Two of the three state NFL teams will be in action on Sunday with the Bucs on the road and the Jaguars at home. The Dolphins get an extra day to be ready for the Steelers on Monday Night Football.
With that in mind let’s take a look the two teams playing on Sunday.
First in Jacksonville, the Jaguars look to even their record at 4 – 4, as they host lowly Jets at TIAA Bank field.
Jacksonville’s defense overwhelmed Cincinnati last week, especially in the second half. The Jags had four takeaways, including Yannick Ngakoue’s his interception return for a touchdown.
Offensively, RB Leonard Fournette (above) continues to have a good bounce-back 2018 season. Last week he registered 100 or more yards rushing for the third time in four games and has clearly become the bruising, between the tackles weapon that Doug Marrone and offensive coordinator John Defilippo have envisioned.
As for the Jets, they come off a humiliating Monday night shutout loss to the Patriots and have second-year quarterback Sam Darnold, as well as free agent running back Le’Veon Bell. However, Jacksonville should be able to take advantage of this easier opponent and get another win.
Meanwhile, the Buccaneers are off of their bye week and have traveled to Nashville to take on the Tennessee Titans.
When last we saw Tampa Bay, they put in a mostly miserable performance in a 37 – 26 loss to the Panthers in London. In that game, quarterback Jameis Winston threw 5 interceptions and also lost a fumble in one of the worst games of his career.
Winston, the former #1 overall pick, needs a bounce back game to get Tampa Bay in the win column and calm down the outcry that the Buccaneers need to look elsewhere for a long-term quarterback.
Ironically, that’s the situation in Nashville, as the Titans have benched the 2015 #2 overall pick, QB Marcus Mariota last week and gone with veteran Ryan Tannehill. Tannehill, the former Dolphins starter, threw for over 300 yards in the Titans dramatic win over the L.A. Chargers.
Tennessee will also look to hammer running back Derrick Henry between the tackles at the buccaneer defense, which has been one of the best ones against the run this season.
The Bucs defense is mostly at full strength with rookie first-round pick Devin White having played against Carolina and now having another two weeks to get fully recovered from a sprained knee earlier in the year.
Tampa Bay will also apparently welcome back defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, as he has been activated off the “Non-football injury list” and is eligible to play for the first time this season. Pierre-paul suffered a neck fracture in a car accident back in May has made a tremendous recovery 5 months later to be able to practice without having surgery.
The veteran led the Buccaneers in sacks with 12.5 a year ago and could greatly bolster their pass rush.
Jaguars welcomed back Foles but poor play still there
Sunday was supposed to be a game for a new start for the Jaguars. Off a terrible performance in London against the Texans two weeks ago, the Jaguars were also welcoming back a free agent quarterback that was supposed to be a difference-maker in their offense. Unfortunately, when it was over in Indianapolis, not much changed as the Colts easily dispatched Jacksonville 33-13.
Things started off well enough with Nick Foles leading a quick touchdown drive on Jacksonville’s opening possession. In fact Foles even picked up where he left off in his first game. In the opener against Kansas City he threw a touchdown pass to D.J. Chark on the play where he also fractured his collar bone.
Well, on Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium, his next touchdown of the season was also to Chark, who caught a pass over the middle, raced 34 yards for a score and a 7-0 lead:
— NFL (@NFL) November 17, 2019
However, the Colts demonstrated that it’s not just the start of the game. Rather, it’s everything that happens from then on. And from then on, they really dominated Jacksonville.
Quarterback Jacoby Brissett was back after missing last week’s loss to the Dolphins with a sprained knee and was solid throwing for one TD and rushing for another TD. Former USF running back Marlon Mack had 109 yards rushing and a touchdown before leaving the game with an injured hand. And, the Indy defense showed themselves to be stingy, again. This after they have already stifled the likes of Patrick Mahomes, Matt Ryan and Deshaun Watson.
Leonard Fournette never got going on the ground for Jacksonville finishing with just 23 yards on eight carries. And, after the initial touchdown, the Jags either punted, Foles threw his pick or they lost the ball on downs on their next eight possessions.
Foles couldn’t muster much, as Jacksonville fell further and further behind. He did get a very late touchdown in the final minute, again to Chark to pad his stats, which finished 33-47, 296 yds. and the 2 TDs with 1 INT.
The outcome is most disappointing for Jaguar fans who wanted to see their team climb back into the race for the wild card and maybe the division. However, this is now two decisive losses to division foes making even their biggest fans wonder if the season isn’t headed south. Jacksonville must turn it around, when they are back on the road next week against the Tennessee Titans.
To be fair, it was only Foles first full game back and he should be given at least another week or two before we start judging how effective he can be.
The problem is at 4-6, Jacksonville can’t afford many more losses to stay in the hunt.
Return of Jaguars QB Foles leads our Sunday primer
All three state teams are in action on Sunday with the Bucs and Dolphins hosting divisional opponents at home and the Jaguars and the key AFC South match up on the road.
Let’s start with the Jaguars, who will welcome back prize free agent quarterback Nick Foles (above) for the first time in 10 weeks. This after Foles suffered a left broken collarbone in the first quarter of his first game with Jacksonville in Week one against Kansas City.
Foles comes back to a situation where a rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew helped the Jaguars win four games in his absence and have the Jaguars at least in contention in the AFC South. Jacksonville must get running back Leonard Fournette back on track, as when last we saw him, he registered only 40 yards rushing in the 26 – 3 loss to the Texans in London two weeks ago.
The Colts will welcome back quarterback Jacoby Brissett, who missed last week’s loss at home to the lowly Dolphins do to a sprained knee. Brissett has been a pleasant surprise since taking over on the eve of the season for the abruptly retired Andrew Luck.
This is the first of two meetings on the year for Jacksonville and Indy, as they will play at TIAA Bank Field to end the season week 17.
Meanwhile, in Tampa, the Buccaneers host the first place New Orleans Saints in an NFC South matchup. The Bucs won dramatically over Arizona last, week when Jameis Winston led the game-winning Drive of 92 yards in the final 3 minutes for a 30 – 27 win. Winston is still under scrutiny after throwing two more interceptions a week ago and has 14 on the year to lead the NFL.
The Saints were humbled at home by a 1-7 Atlanta team last week. Not only did the Falcons defeat them, but their defense held Drew Brees and Co. to just nine points; the lowest output since he became the Saints starting quarterback 14 seasons ago.
The Buccaneers secondary is in flux after they released former number 1 pick, Vernon Hargreaves, earlier this week for lack of hustle and productivity under first-year coordinator Todd Bowles’ new defense. Tampa Bay will go with rookies Sean Murphy-Bunting and Jamel Dean. And, the Bucs better be ready for the best pass-catching receiver in the NFL, Michael Thomas.
As for the Dolphins, we did not think we would write the sentence: they have a chance for a three-game win streak, especially after an 0-7 horrendous start. However, that’s exactly what’s at stake as they play longtime AFC East rival Buffalo at Hard Rock Stadium.
Solid play by veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, timely defense by Miami and some clutch field goal kicking from Jason Sanders last week has enabled Miami to perk up and win their last two games. Sanders kicked three field goals and was named the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week in the 16 – 12 win over the Colts a week ago.
Buffalo started the year 6 – 2 but played poorly in the second half of last week’s loss to the Browns. Second-year quarterback Josh Allen will try to get them back on the winning track this week. The Bill’s already own a victory last month in Western New York over the Fins.
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