It’s hard to believe how fast the 2016 NFL season is flying by.
After waiting for what felt like an eternity for the new campaign to begin, American football aficionados are already gearing up for a Week 7 that projects to be laden with enough storylines and plot twists to make the 2016 presidential election cycle jealous.
In Week 7, the up and coming Oakland Raiders will travel to Northeast Florida to take on the disappointing Jacksonville Jaguars in an intriguing showdown of AFC teams.
After winning three straight, the Raiders were devastated at home by the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 6, losing 26-10, and head into Jacksonville feeling like they have something to prove.
Meanwhile, after starting an abysmal 1-3, the Jaguars won a 17-16 thriller against the Chicago Bears and will look to build off that momentum against Oakland.
So, will Jack Del Rio’s bunch win another crucial road game, or will Gus Bradley silence the clamors for him to be fired by leading the Jaguars to an incredibly important home win in front of the EverBank Field faithful?
Find out with these five bold predictions.
Blake Bortles Throws Three TDs, Three INTs
Blake Bortles has played poorly on the road throughout his young career, so he admittedly deserves some credit for his effort in Jacksonville’s Week 6 comeback win against the Chicago Bears.
Jaguars QB Blake Bortles had 1-14 record as a starter on the road coming into this game.— Brad Biggs (@BradBiggs) October 16, 2016
However, let’s be honest: Bortles got lucky as a Bears defender inexplicably failed to down Arrelious Benn after he hit the ground, which led to the game-winning touchdown.
Blake has thrown for an alarming seven INTs to go along with eight TDs in 2016 and looks nothing like the guy who threw for 4,425 yards, 35 TDs, and 18 INTs last season.
In what projects to be a shootout with Oakland, Bortles will likely throw for around 300 yards and three TDs. But the three boneheaded interceptions he chucks up for grabs along the way will put the Jaguars in dire straights.
Chris Ivory, T.J. Yeldon Nowhere To Be Found
Although Chris Ivory was able to muster a rushing touchdown against Chicago in Week 6, Jacksonville struggled mightily to run the ball overall.
The Jaguars finished with just 54 rushing yards over 20 carries, which was good for an atrocious 2.7 yards per carry.
Yeldon on again-disappearing run game: "We were running it better last year." His point: #Jaguars didn't think it was possible to get worse— Ryan O'Halloran (@ryanohalloran) October 16, 2016
We all know the Raiders defense has been the team’s Achilles’ heel in 2016. It’s true and it’s incontrovertible.
However, if the Jaguars have proved anything this season, it’s that they haven’t a clue when it comes to controlling the clock and moving the chains with their running backs.
Expect Chris Ivory and NFL sophomore T.J. Yeldon to pull a collective vanishing act once again, finishing with under 50 yards rushing and zero scores.
Derek Carr Electrifies
Don’t let Derek Carr’s inadequate performance in Week 6 fool you into thinking he’s been anything other than phenomenal overall this season.
Not our best... We will be better. We will work for it. It's always #RaiderNation— Derek Carr (@derekcarrqb) October 17, 2016
According to ESPN, Carr’s 10th in passing yards (1,608), tied for 5th with 12 TDs, and has thrown a measly three INT’s.
Prior to Week 6, Derek was even getting MVP mentions by many in NFL media.
Jacksonville’s front-seven is simply no match for the Raiders offensive line, which has only allowed three sacks on Carr this season.
With all the time in the world in the pocket, Derek will carve the Jaguars to shreds in this one. Expect Carr to finish with 300 yards and three TDs without throwing an interception, unlike turnover prone Blake Bortles.
Jack Del Rio Coaches Circles Around Gus Bradley
Jack Del Rio was the head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars from 2003-2011, so you just know this game means a ton to him as it’s his first trip back to town as a head coach of a different team.
Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley has been hanging on for dear life and simply hasn’t been able to get the most out of the young talent on Jacksonville’s roster.
Jags fans, after 2 straight wins, do you still want to fire Gus Bradley?— Bleed Dodger Blue (@Armada_Cthulhu) October 16, 2016
Expect to see Del Rio coach circles around Bradley, which could signal the beginning of the end of his time with the Jaguars.
Raiders Win By No Less Than A Touchdown
The Raiders have been excellent on the road this season, going 3-0 thus far. This includes two huge AFC wins over the Baltimore Ravens and Tennessee Titans.
If the Raiders can beat the Ravens in their own building, they surely won’t be intimidated by this inconsistent Jaguars team.
Led by an electrifying performance by Derek Carr, an excellent showing from their secondary which includes three interceptions, and Jack Del Rio’s endless answers for everything Gus Bradley throws the Raiders’ way, Oakland will be in control of this game from start to finish, and will ultimately cement a victory by no less than seven points.
And, unfortunately, front office folk in Jacksonville will be left with some tough decisions to make in regards to the future of the franchise.
[Featured Image by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images]