The Oakland Raiders are coming off an impressive performance last weekend and on paper look to be the favorites in Sunday’s home tilt with the Jacksonville Jaguars. However, this Sunday is a trap game especially with a winnable division game next week and a struggling team coming to the Black Hole.
On paper the Jaguars should be an easy win for the Raiders. Jacksonville is last in the league in passing offense, which is Oakland’s weakness on defense. The Jaguars are 30th in the league in rushing defense, which bodes well for a big game from Darren McFadden, who has struggled so far this season. Everything Oakland struggles with, Jacksonville does as well and everything the Raiders are good at, the Jaguars are mediocre in those same areas.
At quarterback, Blaine Gabbert continues to be a work in progress, but he has looked better than last season. He is still completing less than 55 percent of his passes and he only has five touchdown passes. However, he has limited his interceptions with only three through the first five games. He is averaging less than 150 yards per game through the air which is never good for a quarterback in the NFL.
Normally a good rushing attack helps to alleviate some pressure off the quarterback and Maurice Jones-Drew has done just that. He’s averaging 81.6 yards per game and nearly five yards per carry. In addition, the UCLA-product is tied for the team lead with 14 receptions. The issue for the Jaguars is they have not been able to establish a run game outside of Jones-Drew. Jacksonville ranks 22nd in the league in rushing, averaging 98.4 yards per game on the ground. With the passing game struggling, Jacksonville needs to get the running game going.
The wide receivers are the most intriguing group on the Jaguars with a mix of youth and experienced veterans. Standout rookie Justin Blackmon has been impressive with 13 catches this season, but Cecil Shorts has been a key cog for this unit with his 205 yards on just eight receptions with two touchdowns. Laurent Robinson has been solid as well for Jacksonville and of course tight end Marcedes Lewis has played a big role. Lewis is a sort of safety valve for Gabbert and he is tied for the lead in recpetions with 14 and touchdowns with two. Only two passes is his direction have not been completed, an impressive feat for a team that struggles so much with the aerial game.
Defensively, the Jaguars are a mess that has strong linebackers and not much else. Russell Allen, Paul Posluszny and Kyle Bosworth have done an excellent job to keep the ship steady, but they can’t make up for eight other players. Jacksonville is 25th in scoring defense and 29th in total defense and has three sacks the entire season. They’ve only caused five takeaways including two interceptions from the linebackers. This defense can’t stop a college team at this point, which should be good news for Oakland.
The Raiders must remain focused. They are the better team and should win, but if they overlook the Jaguars, they could be the ones losing Sunday.