The end of a less than fruitful season is nearing. The New Orleans Saints will battle against the Jacksonville Jaguars in their last home game of the season. Things haven’t gone as many Saints fans have hoped this season as the team is currently sitting at 5-9. The Jaguars are also at 5-9, but the record hasn’t been as much of a disappointment as expectations were much lower. In fact, some Jaguars fans could call this season a success as Blake Bortles, the Jaguars’ young quarterback, has made some significant strides. Bortles has thrown for 31 touchdowns this season. Despite the fact that there isn’t much to play for, the Saints will look to leave the home crowd with a good taste in their mouths.
The Saints injury situation continues to worsen. Drew Brees, the heart and soul of the Saints, tore his plantar fascia in Monday’s game against the Lions. Brees was able to play through the injury, but discomfort was more than evident. It also became significantly more difficult for him to move around. Drew Brees being the warrior he is insisted that he is going to play. In his weekly press conference, he said, “I want to play for me guys. Bottom line.” I think this quote summarizes what Brees is all about. Brees played relatively well last week despite the injury; the Saints were forced to throw the ball as they were playing from behind. It is hard to tell if Brees should play, however. Either Matt Flynn or Garrett Grayson would start in place of Brees if he is not able to go.
In other injuries news for the Saints, LB Dannell Ellerbe is once again ruled as out. He has struggled to stay on the field this year, and his injury woes make him a prime candidate to get cut or have his contract restructured. He has been a big boost to the defense when healthy. WR Marques Colston, OT Terron Armstead, OT Zach Strief, and TE Benjamin Watson are listed as questionable. S Jairus Byrd is probable. I’d expect everyone except for Colston to play as recent reports from NFL Network are hinting at Colston sitting out. The promotion of practice squad wide receiver Seantavius Jones would support these claims.
For the Jaguars, RB T.J. Yeldon and LB Telvin Smith are listed as doubtful. Everyone else is listed as probable.
The Saints defense looked terrible against the Lions, and the offense was slow to get going. If the Saints want to win on Sunday, the defense will need to do a better job of covering tight ends and running backs. The Saints gave up 158 yards to running backs and tight ends on Monday. The more concerning takeaway from the last game is the Saints allowed 150 rushing yards. The Lions were one of the worst rushing teams in the league with an average of 84.4 yards a game.
I’d expect Delvin Breaux to be in charge of covering Allen Robinson. Allen Robinson has had a stellar year as he has tallied 1141 yards and 13 touchdown receptions. This should be a fun matchup to watch. I’ll also be eager to see how much playing time Hau’oli Kikaha will get. He started off the season hot as he was getting sacks and forcing fumbles. After an ankle injury and switch in coaching, his playing time has diminished. He only played 10 snaps against the Lions, but he was able to force and recover a fumble. I hope he gets more playing time as he has proven to be effective when it comes to getting to the passer.
Offensively, the Saints will need to start much better than they did against the Lions. Drew Brees is already injured, and the Saints can’t rely on him to win this game. Running backs Tim Hightower and C.J. Spiller will need to set the tone early on. Balance will be key in this game. Brandin Cooks had his best game of the season last week as he caught 10 passes for 124 yards and a touchdown. Willie Snead also caught 10 passes for 76 yards. These two will need to get open quickly so Drew doesn’t have to take a beating. We are still unsure who will start, but I’d look for Drew. He is simply too competitive to go down without a fight.
This game should be a high-scoring one (like everyone this season it seems). At this point I don’t know what to expect from the defense or offense. The Jaguars have been playing much better and I’m going to choose them to win this one, 33-28. Go Saints, and WHO DAT!!!