A look at the week’s most intriguing (to me) matchup.
Seattle Seahawks at Jacksonville Jaguars
Sunday, 4:25 PM EST
I’m not sure exactly why this matchup strikes me as more interesting than some others, but it just does. Neither team currently leads their division, but both are still in the mix and are in prime position to capture a wildcard berth. It’s the essence of week fourteen, playoff teams must assert themselves to move on, and pretenders will be exposed by higher caliber opponents. The experts at sportsinformationtraders.com have the Jaguars as a slight home favorite (-2.5) and are looking to see a defensive game with the over/under set at 40.
It’s bound to be a defensive grind, with Jacksonville sending out a squad that has allowed only 282.5 yards and under fifteen points per game. No team has performed better by either metric. They’ve accomplished this by smothering opponents’ passing attacks and hitting the quarterback. A lot. The Jags rank first in the NFL in sacks with 45 and second in the league in interceptions with sixteen. It’s a combination of coverage and pressure that makes most teams wilt. Offensively, Jacksonville boasts the league’s top rushing attack, averaging over 150 yards per game, led by Leonard Fournette. Quarterback Blake Bortles has been serviceable, but one wonders if he can take this team to the next level. You can bet Seattle will focus on stopping the run, so Bortles will need to make some plays to win the day.
Seattle’s vaunted Legion of Boom might be a thing of the past, but it’s still not easy to score on these Seahawks. Bobby Wagner is in the top five overall in tackles and the unit is ranked in the top ten in both yards and points allowed. Seattle is coming off of a signature win against an Eagles team that was favored heavily and looked primed for a Super Bowl run. After that game, not only are the Eagles no longer a lock to capture the NFC, but Seattle has to be a sleeper pick. On any given Sunday, coach Pete Carrol’s unit can play with anyone. Seattle has one very big advantage over Jacksonville, and he needs to be in everyone’s MVP conversation. Russell Wilson. The Seahawks signal-caller has been playing at an MVP-level all season long, with very little assistance from the rest of his offense. Seattle’s rushing attack ranks in the bottom third of the league, but that’s misleading. Wilson is also his team’s leading rusher, with over 400 yards. Remove that from the equation and you get the idea of just how much of a one-man-show this offense is. Without Wilson, Seattle would be absolutely adrift. He’ll need to be on top of his game against Jacksonville, but if he picks his spots and uses the threat of the run to spring receivers in the flat, or down the sideline, his improvisational ability might be more than the Jags can handle.
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Image source: twitter.com/Seahawks/
Tom Capo writes about sports, parenting, food, wine and travel; but seldom all at once. He’s currently working on his first novel and collection of shorter fiction. He lives in the Bay Area with all of his girls; wife Allison, daughter Liliana and dog Artemis.