This game is getting much more "How bad were the Baltimore Ravens?!" talk in the football media than anyone wanting to acknowledge how good the Jacksonville Jaguars are. At most, outside of Jacksonville, you're getting some "…And hey — the Jaguars ain't that bad. Chuckle. Guffaw!"
The Jaguars are really good. They are a quarterback away from being a Super Bowl team this year. That's how good they are. I suspected they would contend for the best defense in the NFL this season, and they're arguably #1 or #2 right now, with Denver being the other contender. They have one of the best run games in the NFL: one stud starting RB and two backups who are NFL-starter worthy. They know who they are: a power running game and top-flight defense. Sadly, they have the worst starting quarterback in the NFL at the helm. If they had anything plausible at QB... then they are Super Bowl contenders.
The Jaguars are what the Baltimore Ravens hoped they would be. The Ravens have been slowly falling apart for several years… a team we all respected, but they're about done now. Their era of good, respected teams with a plausible Joe Flacco at QB is over. Flacco's turned into one of the worst QBs in the NFL (3 TD/4 INT on the season). He's still OK, but not even top half of the league in talent anymore. John Harbaugh's system has become antiquated—pushes for change probably falling on deaf ears because of his tenure—with the Marshall Yanda injury as probably the final bullet in them. The only real hope they have is that the Steelers collapse too so that there is a weird dash to an 8-8 record to backdoor win the sad AFC North. I don't think that's going to happen for Baltimore. If the Steelers rock the Ravens at Baltimore this week... it is truly over. The Ravens are toast and the Steelers will be able to jog to the finish line for the division title.
This wasn't about how bad the Ravens played or how experienced the Jaguars are in Europe – this was a beat down. This was a message right off the jump. This game represented nothing different than what happened the first couple weeks of the season for these two teams…what their performances were telling us. The Ravens played sad and pathetic Cincinnati and Cleveland the first two weeks, and they were barely better than their Ohio patsies.
Meanwhile, the Jaguars punched the reigning division champs, the Texans, in the mouth Week 1, and were handling the Titans in Week 2 for a half before they played a bad second half and a very good Titans team took advantage. For most of the season, the Jaguars have been suffocating. For most of the early season, the Ravens have been getting by on an easy schedule. Those days are over. The Jaguars are playoff contenders, and are going to pay off nicely for my over/under season win total bet on the Jags 'over' that I promoted back in May 2017.
The Ravens just need to realize it's over, and dismantle this team and coaching staff... not because they deserve it, but because it's time for a fresh coat of paint/new outfit to change for the future.
Note: Normally, every time I've called for the Ravens demise they somehow make it to the playoffs. I broke that jinx last year, and I'll stick by my prediction for this year. The Ravens will finish below .500.
Fantasy player notes…
-- I loved the Patriots, Steelers, and Jaguars defenses for 2017 fantasy. It looks like, today, that the Jaguars DST were the best call of the group. If you could only have one today, the Jaguars are probably the one. Them or the Steelers.
Besides a Week 8 BYE, I think you could start this Jags defense confidently for the rest of the season. The Steelers offense in Week 5 and maybe the Colts with Andrew Luck a little later on could provide some headwinds, but the Jaguars defense is so good, when their secondary is healthy, that I think they'll take down all comers short of Brady-Rodgers.
If you didn't start the season out with them, someone in your league may have picked them up after their Week 1 devastation of Houston. Then they got burned in Week 2 when the Jags had a bad second half versus Tennessee. If they didn't go back into waivers, then the person who had them for Week 3 enjoyed this Ravens beat down and now loves them a bit. It's going to be hard to get the Jaguars right now, but really not that difficult. You don't ask for them straight up but you try to mix them into a multiplayer deal.
Even though the Jaguars defense is smoking hot right now, the narrative of everything they're doing is "…but it's the Jaguars…can this last?" Most everyone who does not read FFM material believes that/disbelieves in the Jags D. You can probably go get them if you're slick enough… if you feel you need to.
I wouldn't make a great push to do so this week. The current owner is likely basking in his Week 3 and sees the Jets ahead in Week 4. Week 5, when the Jags go to Pittsburgh, that's the next time the prices will be down some. I definitely keep trying to bring the Jags DST into the fold this week or next week, before the story gets too hot and becomes a little more complicated.
-- I will keep saying this: Stay away from this Ravens backfield situation. I don’t want any piece of it, unless it’s an emergency or whatever. The moment one of them does anything, trade them. By design, the Ravens go with the hot hand or situational backfield and have for years now (West, Forsett, Taliaferro, Allen, Dixon, etc.). There is no one that talented in the current backfield, to begin with, and you never know who's going to benefit week to week.
Marshall Yanda getting hurt was the icing on the cake for getting away from this entire offense.
-- Thank God Ben Watson (3-12-1/3) caught a late TD pass or he would've put up a near goose egg for Fantasy last week.
I hold out some hope that Watson is the one guy that Flacco leans on in an offense that's going to have to throw a lot more because they're going to be down in a lot of games. However, don't bet big on anything having to do with the Ravens offense. I like Watson as a TE2 insurance policy and as a cross your fingers starter as needed. Most tight ends are cross your fingers starters every week except for Gronk.
-- Finally, the Jaguars gave Corey Grant (6-75-0, 1-18-0/2) a purposeful push. He wasn't taking carries in garbage time during a blowout either. He was actually taking his carries very early in this game. The Jaguars are starting to see him as a nice change of pace guy to have in the game. It's about time.
We're keeping an eye on the situation. The first hint I see that the van is being used more like Tarik Cohen then I'm going to lose my FF mind.
-- Allen Hurns (3-20-1/3) caught another TD pass in this game but only had three targets. As I watched this game Sunday morning, I did not see Blake Bortles looking for Allen Hurns with any purpose. Marqise Lee (4-66-0/7) is his default mode. Marcedes Lewis (4-62-3/5) was his run fake, defense sucked in, and throw over-the-top by surprise guy. Hurns was just a guy also on the field.
Hurns has scored a TD in each game since Allen Robinson left, which props up Hurns' value a little bit. I try to sell it off this week for whatever you can get because had Hurns not scored a TD Sunday, you would've dropped him this week based on the targets and the touches and the quarterback. Get what you can for Hurns and take a gamble on something else like Rishard Matthews, Tyler Lockett (if Baldwin hurt), etc.
-- I finally saw rookie Keelan Cole (1-13-0/4) catch a pass with confidence and run after the catch with purpose. That was the confident, aggressive guy I saw early in the preseason. He took a powder for a few weeks potentially overwhelmed by how fast his NFL journey has gone. But I just saw signs of the better him springing back to life.
I'm only interested in Cole, kinda, for 2017 if Chad Henne takes over. He and Henne have a nice connection.
Snap Counts of Interest:
49 = Marqise Lee
44 = Hurns
37 = Keelan Cole
37 = Fournette
25 = Ivory
12 = Grant
40 = Nick Boyle
40 = Ben Watson
34 = Buck Allen
19 = Terrance West
10 = Alex Collins