NFL Week 3: Carolina Panthers, Jacksonville Jaguars Preview

The Jacksonville Jaguars will start rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert against the fellow rookie Cam Newton and the 0-2 Carolina Panthers.

Send the rookie in! After just two games of the Luke McCown Experience, the Jacksonville Jaguars will turn to rookie Blaine Gabbert to handle the quarterbacking duties. Alfie Crow of Big Cat Country offers some key advice for fans while watching Gabbert make his first NFL start this Sunday:

It's going to be fun to watch Gabbert grow, but just remember a few things as he grows:

  • Starting Gabbert isn't throwing away the season automatically. 
  • Gabbert is going to make mistakes, probably a lot of them. 
  • Gabbert is going to make mistakes. Seriously, he's a rookie. Be patient now that he's playing.

As of right now, the Jacksonville Jaguars and Carolina Panthers share the league lead in interceptions with 4, but don't take that as a sign the Panthers cannot throw the ball much like the Jags offense has been hamstrung. In fact, rookie Cam Newton is second only to Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in passing yards with a whopping 854.

The Jaguars passing attack, meanwhile, ranks third worst in the league with just 286 yards through 2 games. And frankly, McCown alone is not to blame. Last week against the Jets, McCown had approximately five scant seconds before the Jets' three man rush tackled him for a safety.

Thankfully, the Panthers lack any semblance of an NFL defense. According to Football Outsiders, they have thus far displayed the second worst defense in the league, incapable of either run prevention or pass rushing. This provides the Jaguars with an exceptional matchup because the Jags offensive line should be able to open many wide holes for Maurice Jones-Drew through which to dash.

Difference makers: The game rests largely on the shoulders of Blaine Gabbert and DeAngelo Williams. With both offenses facing sub-par defenses, the x-factors for both teams will be the one who have yet to prove themselves. The Jacksonville quarterback will be making his first NFL start, and the highly-paid Williams will be looking to finally produce.

After getting his much-awaited payday this off-season, Williams has yet to show he is a top running back in the NFL this year. If Gabbert or Williams have a big game, they could easily push their team over the top.

Prediction: Jags 28 -- Panthers 21

Do not be surprised if Maurice Jones-Drew has a field day and ends with some gaudy statistics. Anticipate easily over 125 rushing yards from Maurice as he gives the Jaguars an early, strong lead.

But don't go to sleep on the Panthers offense! Expect Cam Newton to pass often -- especially if and when the Panthers fall behind big -- and make the game close late.

Game time is slated for 1:05 p.m. ET kickoff.


Jacksonville Jaguars Injuries

Questionable

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Marcedes Lewis calf 09/21/2011
Kassim Osgood hamstring 09/19/2011
Jason Hill hip 09/19/2011
Derek Cox ribs 09/21/2011

Out (IR / Out / Suspended / Physically unvailable)

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Rashad Jennings knee 09/03/2011
D'Anthony Smith foot 09/03/2011

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