HEADLINE

Week 14 Game Scout: Seahawks at Jaguars

Sports Xchange

December 07, 2017 at 2:30 am.

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (8-4) AT JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (8-4)

KICKOFF: Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, EverBank Field. TV: FOX, Chris Myers, Daryl Johnston, Laura Okmin (field reporter).

SERIES HISTORY: 8th regular-season meeting. Seahawks lead series, 5-2. Teams haven’t met since 2013, a 45-17 Seattle win. Last Jacksonville win was 26-14 in the season opener in 2005 to jump-start the Jaguars to a 12-4 record that year. The Seahawks recovered nicely, though, and ended up in their first Super Bowl that season. The Jaguars are 2-2 against the Seahawks at EverBank Field. Seahawks QB Russell Wilson has never played in Jacksonville.

KEYS TO THE GAME: While Seattle’s ground game took a step forward last week, Russell Wilson is still the engine of Seattle’s offense, and he will need to find a way to move the ball against a Jaguars defense that is the class of the NFL — leading in fewest yards (282.5) and points (14.8).

Wilson also needs to avoid the early turnovers, as he did last Sunday against the Eagles. The Jaguars rank second in the league in turnover margin, at plus-12. They have 16 interceptions, thanks to a great combination of pass rush (league-best 45 sacks) and corner play.

Even though the Jaguars continue to lead the NFL in rushing, they don’t figure to go heavy on the ground. With injuries to right tackle Jermey Parnell and left guard Patrick Omameh (both missed three consecutive games) and with running back Leonard Fournette not at 100 percent due to an ankle injury, the Jaguars are likely to throw the ball 30-40 times.

The Seahawks’ eighth-place ranking in stopping the run will force the Jaguars to go to the air like they did last week against Indianapolis, when Blake Bortles threw for over 300 yards with no interceptions. Forcing Bortles to make plays in the passing game should play into the Seahawks’ hands.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH:

–Seahawks OL vs. Jaguars front four. Seattle’s rebuilt offensive line faces a monstrous challenge for a second straight week. Jacksonville’s front is as loaded as any team in the league with depth and high-profile pieces in the mix. The group played well against the Eagles. Keeping Calais Campbell, Yannick Ngakoue, Dante Fowler, Malik Jackson and Marcel Dareus off Wilson will be pivotal.

–Jaguars RB Leonard Fournette vs. Seahawks MLB Bobby Wagner. Fournette has slowed since accumulating 596 yards in his first six games. After missing two games, he has rushed for just 226 yards in his last four outings. It was Fournette’s running in the first six games that got the Jaguars to the No. 1 spot in rushing. But since his ankle sprain in Week 6, Fournette just hasn’t been the same runner. He looked better last week, but the Colts stacked the line of scrimmage and held him to 57 yards on 20 carries. Wagner will keep a close eye on Fournette. The Seahawks’ leader on defense has recorded 113 tackles, second in the NFL. Wagner has topped the 100-tackle mark in all six of his seasons.

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Jaguars LB Paul Posluszny. He easily had his best game of the season last week against Indianapolis, credited with 14 tackles and 1.5 sacks. It was Posluszny’s most extensive playing time as he stayed in the game on third-down situations with OLB Telvin Smith sidelined with a concussion. Posluszny showed he’s still capable of playing every down — he led the Jaguars in tackles in five of the last six seasons.

FAST FACTS: Seattle QB Russell Wilson passed for 227 yards and three TDs, with no interceptions, in a win over Philadelphia last week. … RB Mike Davis had a career-high 101 scrimmage yards (64 rushing) in Week 13. … TE Jimmy Graham is tied for the NFL lead with nine TD catches. … LB Bobby Wagner ranks second in NFL with 113 tackles. He had nine tackles and an INT in his last game vs. Jacksonville. … DE Frank Clark had two sacks last week, his sixth career multi-sack game. … Jacksonville can clinch a playoff berth with a win, if (1) Buffalo loses and (2) Miami, the Jets and the Chargers all lose or tie and (3) the Oakland-Kansas City game does not end in a tie. … Jacksonville QB Blake Bortles completed 26 of 35 for 309 yards and two TDs in Week 13. … WR Marqise Lee led the team with 86 receiving yards and a TD in Week 13. … Rookie WR Dede Westbrook had a career-high 78 receiving yards last week. … DE Calais Campbell leads the AFC with a franchise-record and career-high 12.5 sacks. The former Arizona Cardinal has 11.5 sacks in 18 career games vs. Seattle. … CB A.J. Bouye is tied for fourth in the AFC with four INTs. … DT Malik Jackson has 4.5 sacks and three forced fumbles in past six contests.

PREDICTION: The Jaguars are learning how to win big games. The Seahawks already know how and are nearly unbeatable in December.

OUR PICK: Seahawks, 26-23.

–Ellen Port