Posted on December 6, 2017, by Travis Pulver
For the last few seasons, the Seattle Seahawks have been a mainstay in the playoffs. They don’t always play the best during the regular season. But they seem to have a knack for getting it together when it matters most to make a late-season push to secure a spot.
The Jacksonville Jaguars, on the other hand, have not been relevant this late in the season for years. But with the defense playing lights out and Blake Bortles making few, if any, mistakes, they appear to be in good shape.
But when these two teams meet on Sunday, the postseason dream will become a lot tougher.
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Seattle is already a game behind the Rams in the NFC West. But, at the moment, they are the No.5 seed in the NFC. A loss would drop them into a tie for the No. 6 seed with the Atlanta Falcons. But since the Falcons own the tiebreaker, the Seahawks would be the odd man out.
Jacksonville is in a slightly better position, but once that could slip away just as easily. They have the same record as the Tennessee Titans. But since they lost to the Titans earlier this season, Tennessee is in position to win the AFC South making them a wild card team.
With a loss, they would still be the No. 5 seed. But they have a potentially dangerous road ahead of them. Houston has shown promise in recent weeks under Tom Savage. If Savage could quit throwing interceptions late in the fourth quarter, the Texans might be able to win a few games. Jimmy Garappolo has discovered signs of life within the 49ers. They close the regular season against the Titans.
A loss this week could prove costly down the road for the Jags.
So—who’s going to win?
When the Legion of Boom went on the IR, the consensus was that the Seattle defense would be toast. But so far, the front seven have stepped up their game and taken some pressure off the secondary. They certainly did a great job against Carson Wentz and the Philadelphia Eagles last week.
If they can do a similar job against the Jaguars, the advantage could shift to Seattle.
But the defense may have to do the scoring as well. Russell Wilson already runs for his life every week. This week, he’ll be facing arguably the best pass rush in the NFL. Without a run game to take pressure off, he may have to throw on the run every single time.
However, the same could be said for the Jaguars offense relative to the Seattle defense. While the Seahawks only sacked Wentz three times, they hit him 12 times and deflected seven passes. They aren’t going to make life easy on Bortles. While he has played much better this season, fans have to be wondering if the shoe will drop and the guy they’ve come to know and loathe will return.
It would help if they could count on their rookie running back, Leonard Fournette. But with his reoccurring ankle issue, he has failed to clear 60+ yards in three of his last four games.
This one is going to come down to two things: 1.) how much pressure can the Jaguars put on Russell Wilson and 2.) how many pick-6’s the Seahawks can force Bortles to throw.
Jacksonville will have to get in Russell Wilson’s face early and often. If they can take him away or severely limit his productivity, the Seahawks are done. That is unless the defense can be opportunistic and pick Bortles off a couple of times.
Russell Wilson will make this an entertaining game to watch. But expect Jacksonville to try their hardest to grind this one out on the ground. They will have Bortles throw only when it appears to be necessary. As a result, the game will end up being a low scoring one.
But the Jaguars will cover the spread (three points).