Will the real Jacksonville Jaguars please stand up?
This team is harder to figure out than a Rubik’s Cube.
Is this the team that dominated the Tennessee Titans 36-22 last week? Or the team that looked dismal in being dismantled by Detroit two weeks ago.
Perhaps it’s the team that mounted an amazing comeback against the Baltimore Ravens a week prior to the Detroit debacle. Or maybe the squad that looked flat against the Kansas City Chiefs the game before that.
Over the past six games, the Jaguars have alternated wins and losses in going 3-3.
If you follow the pattern, then you’d have to take the Dallas Cowboys to win this weekend’s game in Jacksonville.
I feel like Vizzini in “The Princess Bride”: “I’m not a great fool, so I can clearly not choose the (team) in front of you. But you must have known I was not a great fool; you would have counted on it, so I can clearly not choose the (team) in front of me.”
So, which do I choose?
Chess match:Trevor Lawrence prepares to face the Cowboys defense in a playoff-like showdown
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What to know:Game Day fan guide for first appearance in Jacksonville by Cowboys in 16 years
Luckily, if I’m wrong, I won’t wind up with the same fate as Vizzini. Still, though, it’s a tough choice to make, especially when you’re clinging to a one-game lead the way I am.
Let’s look at some factors and see if it helps make a decision.
This will be only the second time the Cowboys will play in Jacksonville. In their only visit to the First Coast in 2006, Dallas lost 24-17.
In the only other game where the Jaguars are listed as the home team against the Cowboys, the Cowboys won 31-17 in London in 2014.
The Cowboys lead the all-time series 4-3.
Early lines favored the Cowboys by 5.5 points, but throughout the week it has waned to 4.5.
This one seems cut and dry, but as the Jaguars have shown this season, nothing with them is cut and dry.
The battle of wits has begun.
Here’s what our prediction experts have to say.
More Cowboys vs. Jaguars predictions:How are national NFL reporters picking Sunday’s game?
Jaguars beat writer
Cowboys 35, Jaguars 21
I’ve been wrong so often because the Jaguars simply don’t make any sense. So, I wouldn’t really be surprised if they pull this one off. Still, the Cowboys are perhaps the most polished team they’ve faced on both sides of the football this year and I’m not sure if Jacksonville is ready for this quite yet. I think Trevor Lawrence is the guy, and that much was solidified over the past several weeks. But, it won’t be enough. Luckily for them, their playoff hopes won’t be impacted much by losing to an NFC opponent for a record-long 21st-straight time.
Cowboys 31, Jaguars 28
The player the Jaguars should be concerned about the most is Micah Parsons. He has the ability to wreck a game with one or two plays, and that’s what happens this week. The Jaguars keep it close, though, and that sets up must-wins against the Jets and Texans if they’re going to have a shot at the AFC South title.
Times-Union Sports columnist
Jaguars 30, Cowboys 27
It’s certainly possible this game could get out of hand in Dallas’ favor, considering the Cowboys are indisputably a top-5 NFL team. But the outcome is far more impactful to the Jaguars’ playoff hopes because Dallas is close to being locked in as the NFC’s top wild-card seed. A win goes a long way towards the Jaguars’ wish of having a Week 18 rematch with the Tennessee Titans being for the AFC South title. It’s time to remind everyone they can again put together back-to-back quality performances. Trevor must have more than an above-average game for the Jaguars to be celebrating.
Times-Union Sports reporter
Cowboys 31, Jaguars 23
The Jaguars may feed off what is sure to be a playoff atmosphere at the Bank — for awhile. The Cowboys have too much firepower and any possibility they might have overlooked the Jags likely disappeared when they escaped Houston with a victory last week.
Times-Union Sports reporter
Cowboys 28, Jaguars 21
I think Jacksonville is going to be riding the momentum of last week’s season-changing win but it’s a new week. Dallas has an elite defense and on offense they have just enough weapons to keep the game out of reach. Expect a playoff-like atmosphere and for the Jaguars to hang around until the end.
Times-Union Sports reporter
Cowboys 24, Jaguars 16
Good luck picking this one. The Cowboys almost lost to dismal Houston last time out. The Jaguars won in Nashville for the first time since Trevor Lawrence was an eighth-grader. One thing is certain, though: By just about any measure, the Cowboys are a top-tier NFL defense, and a pass rush with Micah Parsons and DeMarcus Lawrence — even former Jags first-rounder Dante Fowler — means a challenging day for the Jaguars ‘ second-year QB.
Times-Union Sports Editor
Jaguars 27, Cowboys 21
After winning four in a row to creep over the .500 hump, I’ve lost two in a row and find myself below .500 and clinging to a one-game lead with four games remaining in the season. My rational mind says to take the Cowboys. Dallas has a top 5 defense in the league. They have a potent offense. They’re 10-3. Yet, like a Siren of the sea, I keep getting pulled back towards the Jaguars. Dallas looked shaky in beating the lowly Texans last week. They needed a 98-yard drive that ended in a TD with just 41 seconds left in the game to win. Yet, the Texans’ only win is against the Jaguars in Jacksonville. But the Jaguars looked so good last week against the Titans. (Quite the conundrum). The Cowboys have won four in a row and have a Christmas Eve battle looming against the Philadelphia Eagles. Could they be overlooking the Jaguars? I think they falter in this one and the Jaguars keep their playoff hopes alive.