The Jacksonville Jaguars and host Detroit Lions bring identical records into their matchup on Sunday.
At 4-7, both teams would probably need to run the table to challenge for a playoff spot. Yet in different ways, they each enter the contest with a renewed sense of confidence.
Jacksonville rallied from a nine-point, fourth-quarter deficit to beat the Baltimore Ravens 28-27 last Sunday. Trevor Lawrence hasn’t often resembled a No. 1 overall pick, but he looked like a star in the making during the comeback.
Lawrence led the Jaguars on a 10-play, 75-drive in the final two minutes, culminating with a touchdown pass to Marvin Jones and a two-point conversion toss to Zay Jones.
It’s a much bigger longshot for the Jaguars to go on a winning streak and join the playoff race, but coach Doug Pederson won’t discount that possibility.
“I’ve been around this league a long time. Anything is possible,” Pederson said. “Detroit’s in a situation where they could go on a little run here and affect the outcome of their season too. Yes, we understand that it’s a one-game season, the importance of this game and we’ve got some really good opponents down the stretch here.”
Lawrence passed for a season-high 321 yards and three touchdowns against the Ravens.
“I see a player who’s gotten better, particularly over the last three or four weeks,” Lions coach Dan Campbell said. “That last drive last week was — that was big. Every week I feel like, man, if you’re not careful, he’ll pick you apart.”
The Lions had a three-game winning streak halted in their annual Thanksgiving Day game but earned some national respect in the process. Buffalo, one of the league’s top teams, needed a field goal in the closing seconds to escape with a 28-25 win.
“Oh, it’s turned (the corner),” quarterback Jared Goff said. “We’ve turned and have won three of our last four and felt like we had a good chance to win last week and feel like we can play with anybody. So, yeah, we’re there and certainly a different team than we were earlier in the year and can play with anybody and beat anybody.”
Goff hasn’t thrown an interception over the last three games. He’s thrown 15 touchdown passes compared to three interceptions in six home starts this season.
“The offensive line is really good at protecting Jared,” Pederson said. “He’s done a nice job of distributing the football. They’ve been scoring points. It hasn’t been one of their issues. They’re putting points on the board and (gone on) a little bit of a hot streak recently.”
Jamaal Williams has emerged as a premier goal-line back, scoring an NFL-best 13 touchdowns.
Goff doesn’t feel like the playoffs are out of reach, despite the team’s record.
“Last year, you think about this time last year, and you’re kind of out of it. Just human nature, it’s hard to get going every day,” he said. It’s hard to get yourself ready to go on Sundays and even throughout the week, Wednesday through Friday. Now, we’re in the mix.”
Detroit’s biggest injury concern entering the game is offensive tackle Penei Sewell, who missed Wednesday’s practice due to an ankle injury. The Jaguars top running back, Travis Etienne Jr., was limited in practice on Wednesday due to a foot injury.
–Field Level Media