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Week 16 Game Preview: Bears-Jaguars

The Bears meet a team that is tanking. Now’s not the time to take an opponent lightly.

Jacksonville Jaguars v Los Angeles Chargers Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images

While the popular narrative is that the Jacksonville Jaguars are tanking for Trevor Lawrence, I don’t see that as being true. Because if you ask me, the front office may want a tank, but the players certainly do not.

Look no further than the Jets last week, who at 0-13 knocked off the 9-4 Rams.

The line between the best and worst teams in the NFL is often razor thin and it truly is an ‘Any Given Sunday’ league. Anything can happen, any team can win any game.

The Bears cannot overlook the Jaguars, no matter how many games in a row they have lost. Especially when you consider that this team has lost several games this year in particularly embarrassing fashion.

Jacksonville Jaguars

SB Nation site: Big Cat Country

Record: 1-13, last in AFC South

Last week: 40-14 loss to the Baltimore Ravens

Game day, time, TV: Sunday, noon CT, CBS

Bears all-time record against: 4-3

Historical meetings: Week 17, 2002, the 13-2 Bears hosted the 6-9 Jaguars at Soldier Field.

The crowd was lively that day and the Bears gave them plenty to cheer about.

The defense intercepted Jags quarterback Mark Brunell three times, including a 67-yard interception return by defensive tackle Keith Traylor.

Anthony Thomas rushed for 160 yards and a touchdown and Jim Miller threw another to David Terrell as the Bears cruised to a 33-13 win.

Last meeting: The 1-4 Bears lost to the 1-3 Jaguars 17-16 when Blake Bortles hit Arrelious Benn for a 51-yard touchdown pass with 2:49 left in the game.

Injury report: The Jaguars listed three players on their Wednesday injury report:

Did not participate: WR Collin Johnson (hamstring), RB James Robinson (ankle), CB Sidney Jones (Achilles)

Offense: The Jaguars offense comes into the game ranked 29th in points and 23rd in yards.

The Jags passing offense ranks 20th, while their rushing offense ranks 26th.

The Jaguars have used three quarterbacks this year and I believe Garner Minshew (66.1 pct cmp./2,259 yds./16 TD/5 INT) will get the nod again this week.

Minshew and Co. have been throwing to WR D.J. Chark (49 rec./644 yds./4 TD), Keelan Cole (49/593/5), Laviska Shenault (47/484/2) and Tyler Eifert (33/322/2).

The biggest playmaker for the Jaguars though is rookie running back James Robinson (240 att./1,070 yds./7 TD), who is also a playmaker in the passing game too (49/344/3).

Defense: The Jaguars’ defense ranks 30th in points allowed and 32nd in yards allowed.

Their passing defense ranks 28th and their rushing defense ranks 30th.

LBs Myles Jack (105 tkl/6 TFL/1 sk/1 INT/1 FF) and Joe Schobert (124 tkl/2 INT/1 FF/1.5 sk/6 TFL) are really the top players on the defense, making tackles all over the place.

Up front, DE Dawuane Smoot (5.5 sk/2 FF/16 QB hits/5 TFL) is leading Jacksonville in sacks and Josh Allen (2.5 sk/11 QB hits/1 PD) is next.

In the secondary CB Sidney Jones (2 INT/9 PD/1 FF) is the leader back there, but he is on the injury report. Tre Herndon (5 PD/1 sk/4 TFL) and Jarrod Wilson (1 INT/2 PD) are also playing deep for the Jaguars.

Key match ups:

  • The Bears offensive line may actually have the rare upper hand in their match up. The Jaguars don’t have much of a pass rush and don’t have a good run defense, so Chicago’s new-look offensive line, particularly the interior, should be able to work their blocks and get to the second level and block out those tackle machine LBs of Jacksonville.
  • This is yet another game were David Montgomery should be getting 30+ touches all in. Maybe it would be good to spell him a little more just so he doesn’t get worn down, but if he’s going, let him.
  • The receivers should have some favorable match ups for Mitch to exploit but this is now a run-first team, so establish it and then work the play action and get some shots to Darnell Mooney and Allen Robinson.
  • On defense, just dominate. The defense hasn’t really looked itself, except against the struggling Texans, so that should be the standard again. The Jags have allowed 37 sacks. So get after the quarterback. Get turnovers. No excuses this week against such a lowly offensive team.

Key stats:

  • Jaguars quarterbacks have been sacked the ninth-most times in the league
  • The Jaguars have the seventh most offensive turnovers and a -7 turnover margin, which is 27th in the league
  • On the season, Jacksonville QBs have an 83.6 rating, one spot below the Bears’ 86.3
  • The Bears defense is allowing opposing passers a 92.9 rating on the season
  • The Bears have not scored 30+ points in four consecutive games since 1965.

Can the Bears get their first three-game win streak since weeks 1-3? Can the Bears defense properly dominate an overmatched opponent?