Predictions: Detroit Lions vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

Detroit News

▶ Nolan Bianchi: This game probably didn’t draw much interest to start the year, but with the Lions needing a win to prove their three-game win streak and close call against the Bills wasn’t fraudulent — and stay alive in the playoff race — this game is suddenly a pivot point. Everything is setting up for Detroit to get a statement win over a team on the rise the way it did at the Meadowlands in New York, but Jacksonville is playing with all of the world’s confidence after storming back to beat Baltimore a week ago. On the field, these teams are evenly matched for the most part. Both of them would love a win — but the Lions need one. Pick: Lions, 27-20

▶ John Niyo: Jacksonville’s coming off a huge comeback win over Baltimore. The Lions had some extra rest after their near-miss against the Bills on Thanksgiving. But assuming Detroit’s offensive line is healthy enough to give it a go Sunday, I like the Lions’ chances to bounce back with another win here. Getting Amon-Ra St. Brown back has completely revived what was a top-10 offense to start the season, and the defense has looked surprisingly average over the last month, which is a big step up. Detroit’s run game should find some traction against a Jaguars defense that has regressed in that area in recent weeks. And if Jared Goff & Co. can take care of the football — Jacksonville has recovered five fumbles the last three games — they can regain the momentum they’d started to build in November. Pick: Lions, 31-27

▶ Justin Rogers: After picking against the Lions through November, I can comfortably admit the team’s recent performance isn’t a mirage. But neither is the recent play of Jacksonville, which seems to be similarly turning a corner under first-year head coach Doug Pederson. It all makes for a reasonably compelling matchup between a pair of 4-7 teams on the slow rise. I’d anticipate quarterback Trevor Lawrence giving Detroit some trouble with his dual-threat skill set, much like Daniel Jones, Justin Fields and Josh Allen have done in recent weeks, but the Lions have the offensive firepower to keep pace and extend Jacksonville’s losing streak to NFC opponents to 20. Pick: Lions 27-24

▶ Bob Wojnowski: Both teams are 4-7, so someone’s faint playoff hopes will just about be extinguished. The Lions have had 10 days to recover from the crushing loss to the Bills, while the Jaguars are coming off a comeback win against the Ravens. The Patented Wojo Up-Down theory is in play here. The Lions’ defense is improving, and cornerbacks Jeff Okudah and Jerry Jacobs should be back, just in time. Jacksonville quarterback Trevor Lawrence has heated up, and the Lions’ taste for timely turnovers will be key. This might be their last best chance to keep things interesting the rest of the season, and I expect a feisty effort. Jared Goff has thrown only one interception the past five games and Jamaal Williams has taken over the rushing load. The Lions will use their strength — the offensive line — to grind one out at home. Pick: Lions 27-20

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