Gridiron Gab Week Nine Preview – Detroit at Jacksonville

Sunday the Lions will look for their second straight win, as they take on the Jaguars on the road down in Jacksonville vs the Jaguars.

Last week at home, the Lions finally got a much needed win, topping the Seahawks. The Jags had the Pack on the ropes for part of the afternoon, but finally fell in Lambeau.

Detroit will try Sunday to do what it has tried to do all season, and that’s get All-Pro WR Calvin Johnson the ball.

Johnson set career highs with 96 receptions, 1,681 yards and 16 TDs last season, but has three 100-yard games and one TD this year.

Constant attention from opposing defenses has limited the All-Pro to six catches for 80 yards in the last two contests, though he’s also contributed to Detroit’s 22 drops through Week 8 – tied for the most in the NFL.

“I don’t think it has anything to do with how many balls he gets,” Lions coach Jim Schwartz said. “He knows football. He just wants to win. Any player in our locker room will sacrifice personal performance for a win.”

Other Lions WR Titus Young has benefited from the attention paid to Johnson by catching 15 balls for 181 yards and two TDs in the last two games.

The Lions have dropped three straight to the Jaguars, including both all-time meetings in Jacksonville. However, the 2012 Jaguars (1-6) are in danger of losing four straight at home for the first time since 2008.

Jacksonville’s last two losses came on the road, but they’ve been competitive despite falling 26-23 in overtime at Oakland on Oct. 21 and 24-15 at Green Bay last Sunday.

Even with star Maurice Jones-Drew sidelined with a foot injury, the Jaguars totaled 341 yards – 105 more than they averaged coming in – against the Packers. Embattled quarterback Blaine Gabbert threw for a season-high 303 yards and a TD.

Jacksonville also held the potent Packers offense to a season-low 238 total yards.

“If we continue to progress in certain things that we’re doing, that we know we’re capable of doing, I think wins will come with it,” coach Mike Mularkey said.

The Jaguars, however, dropped nine passes at Green Bay, fumbled in the red zone and had a punt blocked and returned for a touchdown.

“The things that are not allowing us to win these games when we have chances, it’s got to stop,” Mularkey said.

Mularkey hopes to see more production from Rashad Jennings, who fumbled Sunday and has gained 103 yards on 38 carries in place of Jones-Drew the last two weeks. Jones-Drew has been ruled out against Detroit as well.

Second-year receiver Cecil Shorts continues to emerge after recording 12 receptions for 195 yards and a score in the last two contests.

Detroit is a better team, and while the Jaguars played tough a week ago, I think Detroit does enough to get out of Florida with a road win.

Detroit 27 Jacksonville 17

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