Looking ahead to the Jags

I don't know which qb is more surprising, Jalen Hurts or Trevor Lawrence. But what is definitely surprising is that these two qbs are one of the best matchups of young qbs in the NFL so far in the season.

We all know what Hurts has done this year, but Lawrence's second year has been night and day from last season. He is throwing for 40 more yards per game, and his yards per attempt is up by a yard, from 6 to 7. His completion percentage is 10 points higher and he is on pace to triple his TDs from last year and throw half as many interceptions.

Both qbs get to face their hardest defensive tests of the year this week. We all know what the Eagles did on Sunday, but the Jaguars have allowed only 38 points this season, and have shut down Matt Ryan and Justin Herbert the last two weeks. They have exciting rookies in Devin Lloyd and first overall pick Travon Walker.

So let's look at this surprising marquee matchup to see what we can expect on Sunday.

Starting with the Jaguars offense, Lawrence has been really good this year. But he has also been somewhat conservative. He only has a handful of passes over 20 yards, and has relied mainly on getting the ball out quickly for modest gains. They rely on a solid running game that has hit some home runs this year, and have benefitted from the second-best average starting position in the league.

So how do we counter this? The answer seems pretty obvious. Just do what we have done in our last several games. Take away the qb's first read and let the defensive line eat. The Jags offensive line is better than it was last year, but it's not great. And their receivers aren't great as well. We should be able to put extra players in the box to slow down their rushing attack and put them in third and long situations.

One underrated part of Lawrence's game is his mobility, but the one thing our defense should be used to is containing a mobile qb. So I think our defense matches up really well against their offense.

On defense, the Jags have put up two strong games, but they struggled against Washington, allowing 390 yards to a team that only managed 240 yards against us. That's a pretty telling number that should make us feel pretty good. Their strength is rushing off the edge with Walker and Allen, and our strength is our tackles, so I like that matchup.

They have played two immobile qbs in Ryan and a banged-up Herbert, so Hurts will put a lot of stress on them that they haven't faced previously. The Jags also don't have great interior defensive players, so we should be able to win those matchups pretty easily.

I like our matchups with our receivers against their corners. Like last week, I expect the Eagles to take a lot of deep shots to force the Jags away from man coverage. That will allow Hurts to see a lot of zone, which he has done well against. This is one game where the offense will need to show up for four quarters as I don't think we will pile up points like we did last week. Lawrence will be much tougher to sack, and I doubt we will sprint out to a big lead against him.

Before the season I never thought I would be worried about the Jags, but Doug Pederson has whipped this team into shape. He has designed an offense that firs the strengths of his qb and he has a lot of good young players on defense. This is a game where it will likely come down to which qb can play better. Both teams want this win to make a statement. For the Eagles, they would clinch a winning record heading into their bye, and the schedule after the bye is looking ridiculously easy. For the Jags, it would cement their status as a playoff team in the AFC.

Hurts versus Lawrence. Siriani versus Pederson. It's going to be a great game to watch, and one that I never thought would be this interesting prior to the season.