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NFL Preview - Jacksonville (1-1) at Seattle (2-0)
By Lyle Fitzsimmons, Contributing NFL Editor
(Sports Network) - If the NFL could adjust its television contracts and flex schedule this one all the way to the Cartoon Network, you can bet it would want to do so.
The Jacksonville Jaguars, who've managed all of 11 points in the first two weeks against teams that combined for all of six wins last season, get thrown to the league's point-stingiest lions in Week 3 when they head to CenturyLink Field to meet the red-hot Seattle Seahawks.
Mid-week point spreads for the game hovered at 20, making the Jaguars the 10th biggest underdog in league history.
Seattle, for those unaware, walloped the NFC's reigning champion last week -- holding the prolific San Francisco 49ers to just three points in front of a boisterous crowd that earned a spot among Guinness World Records by reaching 131.9 decibels, roughly akin to a jet take-off from 100 meters away.
The Jaguars' winless streak on the road will be 364 days on Sunday, and their last win in any surroundings came just shy of 10 months ago, in Week 12 of last season.
"Every game," Seahawks safety Earl Thomas said, "we feel like we should dominate."
Facing down that defensive gauntlet while making his second straight fill-in start will be quarterback Chad Henne, who's likely to go again in place of injured starter Blaine Gabbert.
The former Miami starter completed 25-of-38 passes for 241 yards in a Week 2 loss at Oakland, a 10-point defeat that followed a debacle against Kansas City in which the Jaguars failed to reached 200 total yards, saw Gabbert and Henne combine for 19 completions in 41 attempts and managed just a first-quarter safety before the Chiefs erupted for 28 unanswered points.
Adding to the chore this week is the dinged-up status of running back Maurice Jones-Drew, who strained a tendon in his left foot last week after carrying 10 times for 27 yards. In two games, the former All-Pro has compiled 72 yards on 25 carries.
Adversity is no crutch, though, at least not to Jacksonville lineman Eugene Monroe.
"We can't make excuses regardless of who's out there," he said. "We just need to execute and not make mistakes, not get panicked and turn this thing around."
Panic might be well-placed against the surging Seahawks, who've won nine straight at home and have allowed just 5.0 points per game -- the NFL's best through two games -- while limiting Carolina and San Francisco to a combined 460 total yards.
A week before meeting the Seahawks, Niners QB Colin Kaepernick had thrown for 412 yards and three TDs. Against Seattle, he had three interceptions, 127 yards and never saw the end zone. His top target, Anquan Boldin, went from 13 catches and 208 yards against Green Bay to one catch for seven.
Ominously, that unit could benefit with the returns of defensive end Chris Clemons and cornerback Brandon Browner, each of whom is questionable after missing last week.
"We have a chance to do something great," Thomas said. "That's all it says. The craziest thing about it, we stay humble and keep preparing like we do, not listening to what's going on TV, we'll be fine."
It falls to coach Pete Carroll to keep the troops focused upon meeting the lowly Jaguars a week after the Super Bowl runner-up. In addition to the scoreboard and yardage futility, Jacksonville has committed 15 penalties and sustained 11 QB sacks in two weeks, and it allowed an unsightly 226 rushing yards against Oakland.
"Every game is a championship opportunity for us," Carroll said. "The way you ensure that is by the way you prepare. If you practice properly, with the same intentions and standards every week, and we maintain that for the players and we don't accept anything less, then you guarantee your best chance to perform well regardless of what's going on."
Seattle's Marshawn Lynch started with just 43 yards in Week 1 against Carolina, but rumbled for 98 on 28 carries against the Niners while also catching three balls for 37 yards and finding the end zone three times overall.
QB Russell Wilson threw just 19 times and completed eight for a touchdown, an INT and 142 yards.
"We're just not as sharp as we need to be," Carroll said. "There is a lot of potential there that we know is still ready to be shown. It's not just the passing game. In general I think we can be cleaner."
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
For what it's worth, Jacksonville coach Gus Bradley is a former coordinator with the Seahawks and has intimate knowledge of the Seattle players' abilities.
Assuming Jones-Drew is anything near 100 percent, expect the Jaguars to lean hard on him while also occasionally taking a shot with Henne and wide receiver Cecil Shorts, who's caught 11 of the 44 passes completed thus far in 2013.
On the Seattle side, Lynch is a no-brainer to get a lot of work against a team that surrendered more than 200 yards on the ground to a Raiders team that was 4-12 last season. Expect Lynch, Wilson and any other back the Seahawks can get into a uniform to try their hand against Jacksonville's defense until it proves it can stop the run.
If the oddmakers are calling it a 20-point game, there's got to be a reason. And in this case, several.
Based on statistics, momentum, health and home field, the huge number may be justified. It'll be a test of Carroll's hold on locker room to see how fired up the Seahawks are, but, quite frankly, there's a decent chance that a 90 percent effort would still yield 3-0.
Sports Network predicted outcome: Seahawks 24, Jaguars 3
09/19 13:24:40 ET
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