In the second in-state Florida battle, the Jacksonville Jaguars will travel to Tampa Bay to play the struggling Buccaneers.
The Jaguars have definitely improved this season. After losing to Carolina in Week 1, the Jaguars bounced back to beat in-state rivals Miami. They were then dominated by the Patriots in Foxborough, but managed to take the Indianapolis Colts to overtime. The Jaguars missed several chances to win against the Colts, but are better than their 1-3 record suggests.
Jameis Winston has struggled so far in his rookie season. In the opening game, he lost a duel against second-overall pick Marcus Mariota. Tampa has also lost to Houston and divisional rivals Carolina. The lone bright spark was a win over the New Orleans Saints in Week 2.
Keys to the game
Despite playing strong teams like Carolina and New Orleans, the Buccaneers will face the strongest offense they have played so far in the Jaguars. Blake Bortles has improved and has reliable targets in receivers Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns. Third round pick T.J. Yeldon is a real threat out of the backfield. If the Jaguars can score quickly, the game could be lost for the Buccaneers.
Which is where Tampa’s defense needs to make an impact. But the Buccaneers have struggled to keep opponents from scoring, having allowed an average of 29.2 points in four games. Gerald McCoy will have to stop Yeldon from breaking free, and Lovie Smith will have to try to find a pass rush to put pressure on Blake Bortles.
How Tampa’s offensive line protects Winston will also be key. Winston has been sacked nine times so far this season. The offensive line will also need to help Doug Martin break free in the running game. Tampa Bay has averaged just 3.9 yards per carry so far this season and will need to improve on that to beat the Jaguars.
It will be interesting to watch the battle between Bortles and Winston. Both are young quarterbacks on struggling teams, and the game should be a good opportunity for both to get more experience. Bortles has better weapons and a better supporting running game. Winston is prone to throwing interceptions, and that could cost the Buccaneers dearly.
The Jaguars look like they can complete the in-state sweep after beating Miami earlier this season. The defense will pressure Jameis Winston, and Blake Bortles should be able to exploit a struggling defense with a potent young supporting cast.
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