Lions vs. Jaguars NFL Week 9 Preview

By Chris Katje

After beating the Seattle Seahawks at home in Week 8, the Detroit Lions attempt to get back to a .500 record with the Jacksonville Jaguars standing in their way. The Lions take a 3-4 overall record on the road to Jacksonville. The Lions, who are 1-3 on the road in 2012, take on the Jaguars, who hold a 1-6 record.

The Lions will look to put away the Jaguars early in the game, rather than waiting until the last minute, which has become so familiar with fans over the last two seasons. In the Lions three victories, eleven points is the total winning margin. Through seven games, the Lions have an average point differential of five points, and have not lost or won by more than eight points. In last week’s matchup against the Seahawks, the Lions needed a Titus Young touchdown with 20 seconds remaining to take the lead and secure the victory.

Detroit’s offense remains one of the best statistically in the NFL. The Lions passing offense led by Matthew Stafford ranks second in the league, averaging 310.4 yards per game. The rushing offense ranks 22ndin the league with 97.1 yards per game. On the other side of the ball, the Jaguars have one of the worst defenses in the league. The team ranks 23rd in pass defense and 25th in the league in total defense. This sets up well for the Lions, who could see big numbers from their receivers Calvin Johnson, Ryan Broyles, and Titus Young.

After the injury to Nate Burleson, the Lions actually made a trade with the Jaguars. The Lions sent an undisclosed draft pick to Jacksonville in return for Mike Thomas, who is not expected to play this week against his former team. The Lions are hoping to use Thomas as a utility man, since he is capable of playing receiver, running back, and return specialist.

Jacksonville’s offense has stumbled throughout the year. The team’s passing offense is the worst in the league, gaining 164.0 yards per game. Despite this, quarterback Blaine Gabbert had his best performance of the season in last week’s matchup against the Green Bay Packers. Gabbert threw for 303 yards, helping make up for the team still being without starting running back Maurice Jones-Drew. With Jones-Drew out, the team has relied on Rashad Jennings.

This is a must win for the Lions, and they should be able to stop the Jaguars. Jacksonville’s only win came against the Indianapolis Colts. The Jaguars do have two close contests decided by overtime, but the rest of their losses have been blowouts. Jacksonville lost their four non-overtime losses by a combined margin of 84 points.

A win by Detroit takes them back to .500 and puts them in a good position to get back into playoff contention. The team then takes on two NFC North rivals in the Minnesota Vikings and Packers in back to back weeks. The Lions sit in last place in the division and will need key wins to move up the standings.

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