Jacksonville utterly dominated the Houston Texans last week, winning 45-7 to secure a playoff spot. The first half was a complete route, with the Jags offense doing whatever it wanted and finding the endzone four times. Blake Bortles was on point all afternoon, completing 21 of 29 passes for 326 yards and three touchdowns while Corey Grant and Chris Ivory did the work on the ground. The Jags defense picked up four sacks and nine QB hits on TJ Yates while Barry Church snagged a pick.
The 49ers won their third straight game under the guidance of Jimmy Garoppolo as they beat the Tennessee Titans 25-23. With the Titans crushing San Francisco on the ground, Garoppolo had to carry the load, throwing 43 times for 381 yards and a score. Marquise Goodwin was once again his favorite target, reeling in ten catches for 114 yards while Garrett Celek and George Kittle combined for 115 yards at the tight end position. Robbie Gould was a perfect six-for-six on field goals, including the game-winning 45-yarder at the death after another great last minute drive from Garoppolo.
The Jaguars have secured their first playoff spot in nine years which is a brilliant thing for a team that won just three games last season. It would be easy for focus to shift to January now and for the security of having a spot to take some of the edge off their play, but the Jags can’t let that happen.
A win would secure the AFC South for them, and their first division title since 1999, and if they win out then they would leapfrog either New England or Pittsburgh should they slip up. There is still a lot on the line, and the Jags must keep focused on what is in front of them.
The Garoppolo magic
Jimmy Garoppolo has been a ridiculous, incredible, success in his short time with San Francisco. The 49ers are 3-0 in games he has started, and while wins are far from the best way to judge a quarterback, for a team that had only won one game before he took over that is remarkable.
He has the entire team feeling more confident and playing better. Goodwin has become an NFL receiver and not just a speed demon, and even the defense is playing better. However, this game will be a massive test. Jacksonville’s pass defense is one of the most impressive the NFL has ever seen, with the kind of pass rush that can shred the best offensive lines and two corners that can blanket any wide receivers. That’s not to mention that their safety pair of Tashaun Gipson and Barry Church is playing far better than anyone thought they could. Oh and then there is Telvin Smith roaming around… In short, the 49ers and their new quarterback are in for a very long day.
Matchup to Watch: Marquise Goodwin vs Jalen Ramsey
Ramsey is an exceptional athlete and extremely technically sound as well. It is a deadly combination that has seen him snuff the life out of some of the best receivers in the league this year. Sunday will see an interesting matchup though, because truly elite speed is a problem to any cornerback, and Goodwin has it. He’s not a household name yet, but with improvements in his route-running and good chemistry with Garoppolo, Goodwin could surprise a few people this weekend.
Fantasy Tip: Jaguars WR Keelan Cole
I nominated him last week and he only went and put up 186 yards and a touchdown, so it would be poor form of me to move away from him this week. The 49ers have a terrible secondary, and while their defensive line is good, they don’t yet have a consistent pass rush that can affect the quarterback with regularity. Cole’s speed and Bortles’ form is a good partnership right now.
Betting Tip: Jaguars (-4)
The Jaguars are 4-2 on the road, but they have enough to win this game comfortably. The offense’s current run of form is very impressive and the defense, well they are a threat to register a shutout nearly every week.
Prediction: Jaguars 27-13 49ers
The Garoppolo bandwagon hits a pothole this week. The Jaguars have made far better and more experienced quarterbacks look helpless this season, and I expect they will do the same to Garoppolo, securing the AFC South in the process.
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