JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson is in serious contention for his first MVP award.
The NFL's best-ranked defense presents the final proof and the opportunity for an important statement.
The Seahawks travel to Jacksonville on Sunday in a clash of 8-4 teams at EverBank Field. The game was flexed at 4:25 p.m. Start of ET and possibly be the biggest contest in Jacksonville in a decade.
The Jaguars are tied with Tennessee for the AFC South leadership. The Seahawks are a game behind the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC West, but they are the fifth seed in the NFC playoff.
Wilson threw for 3,256 yards and ran for 432, but that production does not tell the full story. The sixth-year veteran is leading the Seattle offense unlike any player in recent memory. Wilson's 3,688 total yards represent 82.1
"I never really studied or played against Russell Wilson," said Jaguars coach Doug Marrone. "I've had the last few days to really study it and I really think he's having an MVP season, when you see him back there, whether it's throwing the ball, running the ball, throwaway, prolonging plays, just making plays, durability, I mean he just does it all. "
Wilson has tallied 29 of Seattle's 30 offensive touchdowns, pitching for 26 and running for three.
Wilson led Seattle after visiting Philadelphia 24-10 on Sunday night, overcoming the Eagles' nine-game winning streak.
The Jaguars present another challenge.
The Jacksonville defense has become extraordinarily excellent, even for the NFL's elite defenses. The Jaguars lead the NFL in total defense (282.5 yards), scoring defense (14.8) and pass defense (167.1).
"They are the best in the NFL by a pretty good margin here in scoring and all that," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "Start straight for them, they have a great rotation of boys, a great variety of boys that can pull you in. Their linebackers can fly and the secondary ones are a group of hawks, they cause you all kinds of problems. history and all the turnovers. "
Jacksonville has allowed opposing quarterbacks to throw 10 touchdowns with 16 selections for a 65.6 passer rating. Wilson enters the game with a score of 96.9.
Cornerback Jaguars Jalen has become one of the best in the NFL with three interceptions and 16 passes disintegrated. Ends Calais Campbell and Yannick Ngakoue have combined for 22 1/2 sacks. Campbell set the record for looting a franchise season by reaching 12 1/2 in Sunday's 30-10 victory over Indianapolis.
"His top four spots are phenomenal," said Seattle wide receiver Doug Baldwin. "We know we have our hands full with them in advance, the supporters are very smart and athletic, so we know they will move and they will cause us some problems in the passing game, their secondary is extremely talented, extremely safe. because I know they're going to get the best out of us. "
An important key in the game will be how the Jaguars choose to try to pressure Wilson. They should have a clear advantage over Seattle's lower offensive line.
Does Marrone decide to allow his runners the freedom to rush Wilson at full speed? Or does he and defensive coordinator Todd Wash want a controlled rush to contain Wilson? 19659002] The other side of the confrontation is tilted in favor of Seattle. Despite losing stars to cornerback Richard Sherman, powerful safety Kam Chancellor and defensive end Cliff Avril, the Seahawks remain a strong unit.
The Jaguars lead the NFL in trouble. However, rookie running back Leonard Fournette has been slowed lately by an ankle injury and does not seem to have the cutting ability and power he had in the first six games of the season.
If the Jaguars can not run the ball well, fourth-year quarterback Blake Bortles will have to beat a secondary that still includes an excellent free safety Earl Thomas.
Bortles played well against Indianapolis, throwing for 309 yards with two touchdowns and no selection. Still, the Colts are not nearly the defense that Seattle is bringing to Jacksonville.
"Philly has been shooting and they have closed it, so it's awesome," Bortles said. "This defense has played at a high level for a long time, they have had their basic guys who have been there for a long time, they know the system really well, they have played in it for a long time, they are a bit hit with a couple of guys , but they still have a lot of good soccer players. "