5 Bold Predictions for the Jacksonville Jaguars' Week 7 Matchup
From the emergence of second-year wide receiver Justin Blackmon to the strong play of defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks, the Jaguars are trying to rebuild their franchise with lots of young talent.
Using film study and advanced NFL metrics, it's time to check out five bold predictions for the Jaguars Week 7 matchup against the Chargers.
*All stats courtesy of NFL.com unless noted otherwise.
*All advanced stats courtesy of Pro Football Focus (subscription required) unless noted otherwise.
The Jaguars Will Score More Than 21 Points
Did you know the Jacksonville Jaguars have not scored more than 20 points in a single game this season?
Don't worry, that will change in Week 7 against the San Diego Chargers.
With quarterback Chad Henne getting another chance to start, look for him to keep this offense moving downfield. Although Henne isn't the future of this franchise, it's clear that this offense is a lot better when he's playing quarterback.
Watching Henne on film, you can tell he has the ability to rip the football downfield whenever he gets adequate time in the pocket. Unlike Blaine Gabbert, Henne seems to have the poise and wherewithal needed to get his playmakers involved in the passing game.
With Justin Blackmon looking like the second-coming of Anquan Boldin, Henne should have plenty of chances to put up points against the San Diego Chargers and their 25th-ranked pass defense.
Justin Blackmon Will Have Another Big Day
Ever since coming off his four-game suspension, wide receiver Justin Blackmon has been on an absolute tear for the Jaguars.
Bringing a sense of stability to a terrible offense, Blackmon has racked up 19 receptions for 326 yards and one touchdown on a whopping 29 targets. And Blackmon should be able to continue his trend of dominance against the San Diego Chargers in Week 7.
There's a few reasons to expect another big from the second-year wideout.
For starters, Blackmon is the focal point of Jacksonville's passing attack. When you put on the film, you begin to understand why.
Outside of his superior physical ability, Blackmon is an very efficient route-runner. Throughout the entire game against the Denver Broncos, Blackmon generated lots of open space by using his body to absorb press coverage and change directions.
Another reason why you should expect a big performance out of Blackmon is he's facing a soft San Diego Chargers secondary. Don't let its Week 6 performance against the Indianapolis Colts and Andrew Luck fool you, this Chargers defense has a tough time stopping the pass.
According to ProFootballFocuss metrics, the Chargers have the worst pass defense in the NFL. Sporting a horrible -30.2 grade, it shouldn't be too tall of a task for Blackmon to shred this San Diego secondary.
Maurice Jones-Drew Will Rush for 100 Yards
Finally, Maurice Jones-Drew is showing signs of life.
Although he's averaging just 2.9 yards per carry this season, Jones-Drew ran the ball effectively the last two weeks. Going up against the Denver Broncos' top-ranked run defense, Jones-Drew rushed for 71 yards and scored his second touchdown of the season.
Looking to keep things rolling in Week 7, Jones-Drew is going up against a San Diego Chargers team that allows 110 rushing yards per game.
If Chad Henne can limit his turnovers, there's no reason why Jones-Drew can't put up his first 100-yard rushing performance of the season against the Chargers.
Sen'Derrick Marks Will Give Philip Rivers a Headache
Another player who has really stood out this season has been defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks.
According to ProFootballFocus, Marks has registered 10 QB hurries and 11 stops this season. Serving as a constant source of pressure, this guy has been a lot of fun to watch on film. A player who possesses a high motor, Marks uses his weight and strength to explode off the line scrimmage and get into the backfield.
Heading into a Week 7 showdown with Philip Rivers, Marks will need to get into the backfield often if the Jaguars have any chance of slowing down this San Diego offense.
Although the Chargers have given up only 10 sacks and 15 QB hits so far this season, Marks has a track record of putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
Registering three QB hurries last week against the Broncos, Marks was able to bother Peyton Manning. The lesson here? If this guy can get to Peyton Manning, odds are he'll be able to find his way to Rivers.
Gus Bradley Will Have His Team Ready to Play
When you're the head coach of a losing football team, it can be extremely difficult to keep your players motivated.
That's why all of the credit in the world goes to head coach Gus Bradley. Leaving a Super Bowl contender in Seattle to take the head coaching job in Jacksonville, Bradley has done a fine job steering this ship through choppy waters.
His ability to be an effective head coach in this league was on full display last week against the Denver Broncos.
Facing a historic 28-point spread, the Jaguars battled non-stop and gave the Broncos one heck of a football game.
While there may not be any moral victories in the NFL, Jaguars fans can rest easy knowing that Gus Bradley will have his team ready to play once again in Week 7.