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Week 5 preview: Jaguars at Buccaneers

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The Sports Xchange

Jacksonville Jaguars (1-3) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-3)

Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, at Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Fla. – TV: CBS

*TV announcers: Spero Dedes, Solomon Wilcots

*Keys to the game: The Jaguars rank 31st in the NFL with an average of 15.5 points per game, but there have been signed of life. It starts with rookie RB T.J. Yeldon, who is averaging a modest 3.7 yards per carry but has the makings of the workhorse the Jaguars have lacked since Maurice Jones-Drew’s heyday. He’ll take aim at a defense allowing 136.8 yards per game on the ground, although some of that can be chalked up Bucs opponents grinding out games they led from the outset. QB Blake Bortles is developing a nice rapport with WRs Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns, and finally found TE Marcedes Lewis for the first time this season last week (five catches).

After throwing a pick-six on his first pass in each of his two home games, Bucs QB Jameis Winston’s first task is to avoid the early turnovers that have put Tampa Bay in early holes. Winston has attributed his inconsistency to trying to shoulder too much of the offense, and he could use a follow-up performance from RB Doug Martin, who is coming off his first 100-yard game of the season. Jags coach Gus Bradley will devise ways to bring rushers from various angles in an effort to confuse Winston and pressure him into more mistakes. How Winston anticipates, and handles, the pressure will dictate the situation come the fourth quarter.

*Matchup to watch – Jaguars RT Jermey Parnell vs. Bucs DE Will Gholston: Gholston doesn’t have a sack through four games and has only four total in 31 career NFL games, but he has replaced George Johnson on the left side as the Bucs attempt to upgrade their 30th-ranked run defense. Parnell got a five-year, $32 million deal from the Jags to leave Dallas and solidify the right side of the o-line.

*Player spotlight – Bucs CB Alterraun Verner: Signed to a four-year, $25.75 million contract in 2013, the 26-year-old has two interceptions in 18 games with Tampa Bay and spent time working with the nickel defense this week while Sterling Moore worked outside.

*Fast facts: Yeldon leads NFL rookies with 259 rushing yards and is coming off a career-high 105 at Indianapolis last week. … Six of Winston’s seven INTs on the season have come at home, where he has a 60.0 passer rating.

WHO WILL WIN AND WHY

Something has to give as the Jaguars enter with an 11-game road losing streak while the Bucs have dropped their past 11 home games. The Bucs’ Jameis Winston is experiencing the turnover woes Blake Bortles battled as a rookie last season, and the Jags’ second-year signal caller is showing signs of real growth.

*Our pick: Jaguars 23-20.


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