Football analyst Bucky Brooks, a former NFL player and scout who now works for NFL Network and serves as an analyst for DallasCowboys.com, gives his weekly keys to the game Sunday, providing specific points of emphasis for both the Cowboys and Jaguars.
The Jaguars will win if…
The Jaguars will need to play their best game of the year to knock off the Cowboys. Trevor Lawrence will need to spearhead the effort with an A-plus performance that showcases his skills as a pinpoint passer with pizzazz. If the former No.1 overall pick gets into a rhythm early, he has shown the football world that he can put the offense on his back as a gunslinger from the pocket.
Although the quarterback is good enough to win the game on his own, the Jaguars need to run the ball effectively with Travis Etienne to keep the Cowboys' offense on the sidelines as part of a "keep away" strategy designed to take the game into the fourth quarter.
If the Jaguars' defense eliminates the deep ball and takes away the big play, Doug Pederson's squad could make this a one-score game that is decided in the final moments.
The Cowboys will win if…
The Cowboys will need a focused effort against the scrappy Jaguars. Mike McCarthy will need to have the squad ready to play, and his game plan needs to emphasize a balanced approach, particularly on offense. Tony Pollard and Ezekiel Elliott should touch the ball early and often to soften up a vulnerable run defense.
If the Cowboys established the running game early, Dak Prescott should have plenty of opportunities to push the ball down the field to Michael Gallup and CeeDee Lamb. Considering how the Jaguars have struggled in coverage, the big plays could come in bunches if No.4 is on his game.
Defensively, Micah Parsons and Co. need to disrupt the rhythm of the Jaguars' offense with a furious pass rush. The Jaguars' offensive line has struggled against speed and quickness, which bodes well for an explosive frontline that has wreaked havoc on foes at every turn. If the Cowboys show up focused and ready to go, they should walk out of the stadium with a win and a playoff berth.