Week 4 Quick Picks: Eagles vs. Jaguars

Guess who’s back? Back again? Dougie’s back!

The last remaining unbeaten team in the NFL, your Philadelphia Eagles, welcome the only Super Bowl-winning coach in franchise history, Doug Pederson, back to town on Sunday afternoon. Doug is also bringing the Jacksonville Jaguars with him, and the teams are going to play a football game as well. Fancy that.

How will that contest turn out? The guys have thoughts, and since John won last week, he goes first.

John (2-1-0): Kudos to my podcast partner. He pushed me into a corner on the podcast by reminding me of my boldest preseason prediction: the return of Doug Pederson, the wily veteran whose measured gambling is in contrast to his successor on the other sideline. While the Eagles have an advantage in talent, the Jaguars have an edge in coaching. And that…is why I’m confident enough to stick with my preseason prediction. 

The Jaguars have roared to a bit of an upstart season. Their coach knows just when to pounce, turning his opponent into prey. Nick Sirianni and Jonathan Gannon are prone to overthinking a game that has been around for over a century. With Pederson lurking, the Jaguars will have an opportunity to snatch victory from the paws of defeat with a second-half effort. His cagey skills will be the difference in the game. 

We saw it here. Pederson’s ability to relate to his players is in stark contrast to his predecessor in Jacksonville. Trevor Lawrence finally has a mentor to tutor his growth as a quarterback. He’ll find Christian Kirk and Evan Engram and do just enough to score a win on the road. Jaguars 27, Eagles 24.

Offensive Standout: Evan Engram

Defensive Standout: Foyesade Oluokon

Joe (1-2-0): See, that right there, kids, is a lesson in holding your leaders accountable. Whether they’re leading the nation, a state, a township, or a Quick Picks contest after three weeks, it’s important to hold people accountable and make them back up the things they say. And oh boy did John say a thing.

Last week, I felt compelled to stick with my preseason prediction that Carson Wentz would come out ahead in the potentially emotional first matchup with the team that drafted him and whose Super Bowl title is proving to be the downward turning point of his career. That, and I cannot say this strongly enough, did not happen.

So why is Doug Pederson’s return to Philadelphia different? Because, as much influence as a head coach has on an NFL game, it’s nowhere near as much as a quarterback. A motivated (and upright, I should specify) Wentz can do much more damage to the Eagles than Pederson could, because all he can do is gameplan and make decisions. No small tasks, but he’s not out there making throws or catches or tackles or kicks.

And when it comes to the guys who do those things, I agree with John: the Eagles have the advantage.

Trevor Lawrence is coming into his own a little bit, and his development is probably the biggest reason Doug was hired in Jacksonville. The second biggest is that he’s probably the polar opposite as a human being of Urban Meyer, which should be pretty obvious; you can’t get much further away from someone named “Urban” than a guy named “Doug.”

After biffing a chance to knock off Wentz and his Football Team in Week 1 – we’ll have had Eagles-Wentz, Eagles-Pederson, and Pederson-Wentz reunions already in the books and it’s only Week 4; don’t tell me the schedule makers don’t believe in narrative – the Jags humiliated Matt Ryan and the Colts in Week 2 and a hobbled Justin Herbert and the Chargers in Week 3. This team is legit, and it’s difficult not to give most of the credit to a simple change in the head coaching position.

But we’ve also seen what the Eagles can do. While I give the Jaguars the nod on the sideline, the battle between the teams on the field will come down to who makes the big plays when they’re needed most, and I think the Eagles have better playmakers on both sides of the ball. Doug can scheme up ways to neutralize Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham, two mainstays of his reign in Philadelphia, but look for new addition Haason Reddick to get to Lawrence in a big spot in the fourth, and A.J. Brown to break off a long touchdown at some point to provide the margin in what could be a heck of a football game for the first weekend in October. Eagles 24, Jaguars 17.

Offensive Standout: A.J. Brown

Defensive Standout: Haason Reddick

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