The Jacksonville Jaguars aren’t throwing in the towel on the 2022 season, but their chances of turning a 3-7 record into a run at the playoffs are extremely slim.
If the Jaguars have any hope of turning things around, it has to start with an upset win over the 7-3 Baltimore Ravens at home in Week 12.
The Ravens appear set to come to Jacksonville a little banged up with Lamar Jackson nursing a hip injury that he should be able to play through and offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley, safety Kyle Hamilton, and wide receiver Demarcus Robinson among those who have missed practices.
Still, Baltimore has won four straight and the Jaguars have won just one of their last seven. Here are three things that need to happen if Jacksonville hopes to take down the four-point visiting favorites Sunday:
1. Avoid turnovers
The Ravens defense thrives off creating chaos.
Only the 9-1 Philadelphia Eagles have more takeaways than Baltimore through Week 11. The Ravens have eight fumble recoveries and 11 interceptions, thanks largely to a pass rush that is top 10 in the NFL in sacks with 31.
Baltimore has forced a turnover in every game it has played this season.
The Jaguars turned the ball over just once in their three wins this season and 11 times in their seven losses. Jacksonville’s offense isn’t explosive enough to overcome those kinds of mistakes and it’d be huge if the Jaguars were the first team to avoid a turnover against the Ravens this year.
2. Contain the Ravens run game
It’s tough to know what to expect out of the Jaguars’ run defense. It has looked stellar at times and non-existent at others.
If the bad version of the Jaguars run defense shows up against Baltimore, they don’t have much of a chance at winning.
The Ravens averaged 5.4 yards per carry — second most in the NFL — and rushed for more than 150 yards in eight straight games earlier this season. That streak ended last week when the Carolina Panthers did relatively well to hold Baltimore to 115 yards on the ground.
Jacksonville simply isn’t going to shut down the Ravens rushing game altogether, but slowing it down like Carolina did would give the Jaguars a chance.
3. Run the ball effectively
The Ravens’ first seven opponents all ran for at least 80 yards. In their last three games, the Ravens haven’t allowed a team to get even 50 yards on the ground.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New Orleans Saints, and Carolina Panthers were all forced into one-dimensional, pass-heavy offensive attacks against the Ravens. The Jaguars can’t ask Trevor Lawrence to beat the Baltimore defense on his own.
Jacksonville’s offense is at its best when Travis Etienne Jr. — one of the NFL’s most explosive backs — is eating up big chunks of the field at a time and keeping opposing defenses off balance.
Getting Etienne over 100 rushing yards for the fourth time this season could be too much to ask, but the Jaguars can’t finish below 50 yards like the Ravens’ last three opponents.
Story originally appeared on Jaguars Wire