This game worries me. I know that Derek Anderson has struggled often and that it’s entirely possible Brady Quinn will see his first action of the season. I know that the Browns will be without star TE Kellen Winslow who leads the team in receptions this year. But I also know that just two weeks ago, Anderson threw for 310 yards and a 121.3 rating on the Giants, without Winslow in that game either. The defending Super Bowl champs, despite ranking 2nd in the NFL in sacks, never managed to get to Anderson once. That means if the Jaguars, whose defense is currently 29th in the league in producing sacks, can’t consistently bring pressure, the Browns QB could be looking at another big performance.
So the game will fall on the shoulders of a couple ex-Gators. DE Derrick Harvey has taken over starting duties on the right side for veteran Reggie Hayward and S Reggie Nelson returns to action after missing three games with a knee injury. Hayward will need to get his first sack as a pro and Nelson must reprise his role as the “Eraser” for making big plays and erasing his teammates mistakes at Florida. If they are both successful, the Jaguars will earn a favorable result. Otherwise, this game will be one that Jacksonville will look back on at the end of the season, wondering what could have been.
Despite my hesitation, I have enough faith in the Jaguars to expect a victory at home. They might drop a game or two later on that they should have won, but with their backs firmly against the wall this weekend they’ll definitely come out swinging. And one of those blows will connect. Yes, sir, a Jacksonville game decided by more than one score.
Jaguars – 31, Browns – 21
The Jaguars have three straight games against some of the worst teams in the NFL. The best of the worst, the Browns are 26th against the run. What do the Jaguars do best? Run the ball. With Brad Meester and Chris Naeole back on the offensive line, I expect a rested Jaguars team to run, run, run.
The Jaguars are 2-3 in bye weeks under Jack Del Rio, and the Browns haven't allowed more than 14 points in the last 3 games. Watch for the Jaguars to turn the game over to RBs Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor (and watch Taylor cross the 11,000 yard threshold as well). It will be a close game, but the Jaguars will edge the Browns 21-17.