If there is to be any game this season that could put an end to the Jacksonville Jaguars’ wretched losing streak it is this weekend’s matchup against the Miami Dolphins.
This Sunday marks the second game in the NFL’s return to London after COVID halted all international play in 2020. The Jaguars (0-5) will host the Dolphins (1-4) at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in a game between two AFC cellar dwellers.
Following an embarrassing 37-19 loss to the Tennessee Titans last Sunday, Jacksonville was handed its 20th consecutive loss. It is the second-longest losing streak in NFL history behind the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who totaled 26 consecutive losses from 1976-1977.
Reeling from the most recent loss, Jacksonville will arrive in London with a vengeance. Unfortunately, the Jaguars will be without critical players—wide receiver DJ Chark who suffered a season-ending injury against the Bengals as well as linebacker Myles Jack, who has accounted for 36 tackles this season. Jacksonville can no doubt still secure a victory as Trevor Lawrence and the Jaguars' offense continues to improve substantially week to week.
The Dolphins head into Sunday with four consecutive losses, having gone winless since their season opener against the New England Patriots. The Dolphins are entering the Week 6 matchup relying heavily on their starting quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa, who is set to make a triumphant return to the field after being sidelined the last three weeks due to fractured ribs. However, the Dolphins have listed two significant injuries of their own: cornerback Xavien Howard and wide receiver DeVante Parker.
Sunday’s game will play heavily into Jacksonville’s favor due to the shortcomings on the Miami defensive end. Miami has allowed for a total of 2,111 yards this year with 1,443 passing yards and 668 receiving yards. For an athletic, versatile quarterback such as Lawrence, (who also excels in throwing the ball deep) this could be deadly for Miami.
The biggest defensive flaw Miami presents comes in their inability to stop teams from converting on third downs, with about a 57% conversion rate (40/70).
Despite the faults within Miami’s defense, Jacksonville is not much better with 2,042 total offensive yards allowed. Thus, the winner of the game will be decided by which team has a better offensive showing. Just from a personnel comparison, Jacksonville is the frontrunner in this matchup.
For starters, Lawrence has decided to show us why he was the No. 1 draft pick and that even with a struggling offense and poor coaching, he can make plays happen. Lawrence has thrown for 1,146 yards with six touchdowns with a completion percentage of 59.4. It is clear that the rookie passer is finding his rhythm and is on an upward trajectory.
The Jaguars’ offense has continued to find success through running back James Robinson and wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr, who has stepped into a bigger role in place of Chark. Robinson has accounted for 387 rushing yards for four touchdowns this season. In the game against the Titans, Robinson rushed 12 times for 110 yards in the first half and six times for 39 yards in the second half. As for Shenault, he totals 252 receiving yards on the season, including a 58-yard catch last week. He is a player Lawrence can begin to rely on more, which could help create a more successful, consistent offense.
As for Miami, the offense is on the weaker side. Tagovailoa—who struggled last season with consistency—will enter Sunday’s game still partially injured and with only two games under his belt in the 2021 season. In his two games, Tagovailoa only threw for a combined 215 yards and one touchdown.
The Jaguars have all the ability to end their cursed streak Sunday morning; now it just comes down to showing up and getting it done. Otherwise, Jacksonville is in for a long, long season.
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