The Dallas Cowboys and the Jacksonville Jaguars don’t have a long history between them. Much like last week’s game versus the Houston Texans, the full series of games between the two come in at under double digits. And much like last week, the Cowboys are favored, but this time at a much more reasonable number. DraftKings Sportsbook has the Cowboys as 4-point favorites on the road over the Jaguars.
The Cowboys and Jags have gotten together just seven times in their history. The Cowboys beat Jacksonville 40-7 in the last meeting in 2018, and lead the series 4-3. The Cowboys haven't played the Jaguars in Jacksonville since 2006. The Jags won that game 24-17. Dallas is on a two-game win streak in the series.
The Jaguars are not the same team they were at the beginning of 2022. While they got off to a hot 2-1 start, they then dropped five straight games. But by winning three of their last five, they have put themselves in the talk about playoffs, even if it would take a lot for them to get there,
Part of their resurrection is down to Trevor Lawrence, who has been on a tear since November. He has 10 touchdown passes with no interceptions in their recent 3-2 stretch. He has only had a rating of under 100 once in those five games. He is paying off the promise of his first-overall pick status from last year.
The Cowboys will try to heat Lawrence up, especially after they were basically shut out in the pass rush last week. They still lead the league in pressures according to PFF, but they fell to second in teams sacks. You can bet they want to redeem themselves, especially Micah Parsons who has been in a dry spell recently.
Ezekiel Elliott is on a run of six straight games with a rushing touchdown. That’s harder to do than you might think. If he gets another one this week at Jacksonville, he will join Emmitt Smith as the only Cowboys running back to reach that many in a row. Elliott has also reached 302 receptions for his Cowboys career, only Tony Dorsett (382) and Emmitt Smith (486) have more for the team among running backs.
Another Cowboys player who should be excited for this game is Leighton Vander Esch. The Cowboys linebacker comes into the game with 99 tackles this year, so when he crosses 100, it will be the first time he’s done that since 2018. He went to the Pro Bowl that year. And LVE likes playing the Jags. Last time they met, in that 2018 season, he had 12 tackles. This past Sunday against the Texans, he had 14. He is turning into a tackling machine again.
One issue the Cowboys have had this year is the slow starts. They are known as a second half team. So far this year they are 7-0 when they have the lead at halftime. If they are behind at halftime, they are 3-3. The Cowboys need to get ahead in the game, but they are facing another oddity for them. They are 0-2 this year on grass, losing to Philadelphia and Green Bay. The Jacksonville field is a grass field.
There are a couple of prominent former Jags on the Cowboys. Punter Bryan Anger, who last week was mentioned because of his history with the Texans, also has history with the Jaguars, In fact, the Jaguars took Anger with the 70th overall pick (third round) in 2012, passing on Russell Wilson who went 75th to the Seahawks. He spent four seasons with the Jags.
Dante Fowler played with Jacksonville (2015-18) and had 14 sacks during that time.
As for the stats matchup, the Cowboys are third in points scored per game (27.7) and Jacksonville is 15th (22.6). The Cowboys defense is third in points allowed per game (17.6) while the Jaguars defense is 15th (22.6). Based on that, the Cowboys are elite and the Jaguars are middle of the pack. But as we mentioned, the Jags are an improving team.
The Cowboys rushing offense is seventh overall in yards at 144.5 per game, while the Jaguars are 14th in preventing the rush at 115 yards. But the Jaguars are very vulnerable to the pass, ranking 28th in giving up 253 yards per game. Dallas will want to run the ball, but the passing game might be the path of least resistance as long as Dak Prescott can avoid the interceptions.