42 Analysts Give Ravens vs. Jaguars Game Predictions
"Fighting for their season lives."
These are some of the descriptions used for the 0-2 Jacksonville Jaguars as they get ready to host the Ravens Sunday at 1 p.m. They're also some of the reasons why analysts are split down the middle in their predictions for the game, despite a winless team meeting an undefeated squad.
Jacksonville was a trendy preseason pick in the AFC South because of its up-and-coming talented roster. But, the Jaguars have yet to put it all together and looked especially vulnerable in their 38-14 loss to the San Diego Chargers last week. They want to reverse the losing trend this weekend in order to avoid heading to London 0-3 in Week 4.
Meanwhile, the Ravens boast the No. 2 defense in the NFL through two weeks, and they have a shot to improve their rushing attack. The ground game has been a weak spot so far for Baltimore, but the Jags are ranked No. 25 in rush defense, giving up an average of 122.5 yards per game.
Of the analysts below, a small majority believe the Ravens will come home with a perfect 3-0 record, as 23 of 42 analysts predict a Baltimore victory.
Terrell Suggs Won't Give Blake Bortles The Ben Roethlisberger Treatment
Since entering the league in 2014, Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles has drawn comparisons to two-time Super Bowl winner Ben Roethlisberger.
As The Baltimore Sun's Edward Lee points out, the two quarterbacks are similar in size, come from mid-tier college programs and were both first-round picks.
That's not enough for Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs to put them in the same category, however. Suggs was asked in the locker room if he'll give Bortles the same treatment he gives Roethlisberger.
"No, that guy [Roethlisberger] is special," Suggs said with a smile, per Lee. "We like playing against that guy. But Blake is still a really good quarterback. He's not in our division, so we don't get to see him as much. He has some similarities like extending the play and making plays with his feet.
"He's a really good quarterback when he's out of the pocket. That's definitely something we've got to look at and monitor and pretty much try to contain him."
Bortles is coming off perhaps the "worst game of his career" says ESPN's Jamison Hensley, when he threw two picks and fumbled. Bortles is looking to rebound against the Ravens, who played well against him last year, limiting him to 188 passing yards and a 48.9 completion rate.
Who Has The Edge? Ravens-Jags Scouting Report
The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec gave his Ravens-Jaguars scouting report, breaking down key areas of the game and saying which team has the advantage.
Based off the report, you'd think Zrebiec would predict a Ravens win, but he's giving it to the Jags because they are more desperate.
*Passing Game: Edge Ravens
*"The Ravens developed some rhythm in their passing game after Joe Flacco started taking more shots down the field late in the first half against the Cleveland Browns. They have 10 players who have at least two catches, and Mike Wallace has all three of the team's touchdowns."
Running Game: Edge Even
"What the Ravens are doing on the ground isn't working, so at some point, there figures to be some changes with the team's approach to running the ball. That could be with offensive coordinator Marc Trestman's play calling, which has leaned heavily on pitch plays and outside runs. Center Jeremy Zuttah's struggles might create an opening for John Urschel at center. The Ravens also could opt to stick more with one back. … Jacksonville's running game has been even less effective than the Ravens'."
Rush Defense: Edge Ravens
"With Brandon Williams anchoring the middle and Albert McClellan setting the edge, the Ravens have been sound against the run. … The Jaguars are allowing 122.5 rushing yards per game and 4.1 yards per carry."
*Pass Defense: Edge Even *"Through two weeks, the Ravens have the league's top-ranked pass defense. … Despite facing Aaron Rodgers and Philip Rivers in the first two weeks, the Jaguars pass defense has held up well. Jacksonville is allowing 203 passing yards per game, ranking eighth in the NFL. The Jaguars have playmakers in their secondary, including Ravens draft-target Jalen Ramsey."
*Special Teams: Edge Ravens *"As kickers league-wide are experiencing some struggles, Justin Tucker continues to be one of the Ravens' top weapons. … The Ravens coverage teams had good success covering Tucker's shorter kickoffs last week, so expect more of that strategy going forward. The Ravens' nine blocked kicks since 2014 are two more than any other team has during that span."
*Intangibles: Edge Ravens *"This was supposed to be the year a young but talented Jaguars team took the next step into playoff contention. However, they are off to a bad start and last week's loss to the San Diego Chargers, in which they trailed 35-0 heading into the fourth quarter, has put fourth-year head coach Gus Bradley firmly on the hot seat. Bradley is 12-38 as the Jaguars head coach. The 2016 Jaguars have been penalty and turnover prone, too. If the Jaguars go to 0-3, things could get ugly, so the stakes are high."
Durability A Source Of Pride For Rookie Ronnie Stanley
After missing practice Wednesday with a foot injury, rookie left tackle Ronnie Stanley returned to full participation Thursday.
"Durability is a source of pride for Stanley," wrote Hensley.
Stanley told reporters that it would "take a lot" for him to miss a game, and pointed out that he never missed one during his entire college career at Notre Dame.
"This is a drastic difference from Eugene Monroe, who was sidelined for 15 games the last two years," wrote Hensley.
The other piece of good news is that outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil (foot) practiced for the second-consecutive day on a limited basis.
Forsett Family Expecting Baby No. 3
Congratulations to Justin Forsett and his wife Angela, who are expecting their third baby.
That's exactly how my stomach looked when I was pregnant with my third child too. Sure, a little baby bump laced with bulging abs over top. Yup, that was me.
Seriously, Angela is a beast in the weight room as a cross fit coach and former member of the U.S. national volleyball team for several years.