NFL Week 16: Jacksonville Jaguars at New York Jets Game Preview

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"New York Jets on the goal line about to score" by Marianne O'Leary is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Thursday Night Football features a matchup of two teams who need a victory in order to keep their playoff dreams alive in the AFC, as the Jacksonville Jaguars will head north to face the New York Jets. The Jaguars defeated the Dallas Cowboys at home in Week 15, edging them out in overtime by a final score of 30-24. The Jets hung tough at home against the Detroit Lions on Sunday, but ultimately fell 20-17.

Here are three things to keep an eye on during this critical tilt.

Lawrence Looking The Part

It’s been a bit of a roller coaster ride for Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence in his second NFL season. The former Clemson star began the season looking much improved, as new head coach Doug Pederson appeared to simplify the offense for his young signal caller. The results seemed to be positive, as Lawrence was managing the game well. However, things kind of fell apart in the middle of the season, as Lawrence struggled to regain his rhythm.

It looks like he’s turned a corner in the last few weeks, as Jacksonville’s passing offense has been in high gear. Lawrence threw for 318 yards and four touchdowns against the Cowboys, which comes on the heels of a 368 yard, three touchdown performance against the Tennessee Titans the week before. He’ll face another stiff test in New York, but Lawrence might finally be looking like the number one overall pick the team used to select him.

A Quarterback Conundrum In New York

After Mike White got roughed up in Week 14 against the Buffalo Bills, the Jets held out hope that he would be able to recover quickly enough to suit up for the Lions game. His ribs were too badly injured however, which opened the door for head coach Robert Saleh to insert embattled quarterback Zach Wilson into the lineup.

It didn’t seem like the organization’s first choice, but Wilson was solid in his return under center. While he wasn’t perfect, he was able to move the ball downfield on a couple of chunk plays that gave New York life. It’s going to be interesting to see whether the Jets feel inclined to bring White back at possibly less than 100% on a short week, or if they stick with Wilson against Jacksonville.

Jaguars Defense Stepping Up

The Jets defense has been grabbing a ton of headlines this season, and rightfully so thanks to their impressive play. It would be a mistake to ignore the unit on the other side however, as Jacksonville’s defensive group has stepped up in a major way in recent weeks.

Against Tennessee in Week 14, the Jaguars defense forced four turnovers, which completely changed the tenor of the game. While Jacksonville wasn’t able to slow Dallas down too much in regulation the following week, their defense made a huge play in overtime to ice the victory. Safety Rayshawn Jenkins picked off a Dak Prescott pass and took it the distance for the winning touchdown.