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Redskins 2018 Season Preview: Jacksonville Jaguars, Week 15


The Redskins will make their first trip to Jacksonville, Fla., since the 2010 NFL season, where former Redskins quarterback Rex Grossman and head coach Mike Shanahan ousted the Jaguars 20-17 in overtime after Graham Gano connected on a 31-yard field goal. This Week 15 contest is the first meeting between the two franchises since 2014, and it will be the final game against an AFC South opponent this year.

Washington has dominated the Jags since they began play in the 1995 season, with the all-time series in favor of the Burgundy and Gold at 5-1.

Jacksonville's Key Additions: Signed CB D.J. Hayden (Lions), G Andrew Norwell (Panthers), TE Niles Paul (Redskins), WR Donte Moncrief (Colts), TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins (Jets), Acquired QB Cody Kessler (Browns), Drafted DT Taven Bryan (Florida) and WR DJ Chark (LSU).

Jacksonville's Key Subtractions: RB Chris Ivory, TE Mercedes Lewis, WR Allen Robinson, WR Allen Hurns and LB Paul Posluszny.

Doug Marrone's group is coming off the team's first AFC South Division Title, and came up just short of reaching the Super Bowl after falling to the New England Patriots 24-20 in the AFC Championship.

Jacksonville boasts one of the NFL's best defenses, with Pro Bowl defensive lineman Malik Jackson and Calais Campbell, along with All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey, serving as the faces of the aptly named "Sacksonville."

What makes the Jags one of the more dangerous opponents on the Redskins' schedule this year is that they have more at their disposal than the aforementioned names defensively, plus a talented young offense headlined by quarterback Blake Bortles.

Their balance on both sides of the football is exactly why Jacksonville is considered a Super Bowl favorite in this upcoming season.

If there is one area that Washington may be able to take advantage of, it's Bortles' tendency to turn over the football or fail to make the big plays late in a game, as he struggled to officially bury the Patriots after leading by 10 points in the fourth quarter in the AFC Championship.

However, the addition of Derrius Guice's former teammate at LSU in Leonard Fournette last season and their dominant defense allowed Bortles to play a more conservative style of football, as he posted a career low in interceptions (13) and upped his completion percentage to just over 60 percent, the best of his career.

As the second-year running back continues to grow into one of the league's premier offensive weapons, and Jacksonville's defense adds a year of experience to their resumes, the Central Florida product will hope to continue that trend.

Thus, it makes it all the more important that the Redskins are able to acquit themselves well when coordinator Nathaniel Hackett's offense decides to take a shot downfield or play a more up-tempo style of football. This stresses the importance of Alex Smith and Co. being able to get on the board early, as it would put more pressure on Jacksonville's offense.

Of course, with this game at the backend of the NFL schedule, it could have massive implications in determining the likelihood that the Redskins return to the playoffs for the first time since 2015. This will be the first contest in nearly a month where head coach Jay Gruden's side will not have to face an NFC East opponent, but having to go against a major contender in the Jaguars is not something that can't be viewed as a safety-valve victory, especially away from FedExField.