The Falcons and Jaguars are fighting for something. It’s not the things they wanted to be fighting for—Ricardo Allen said very candidly recently that some people will say Atlanta’s currently battling for nothing—but it is something.
For the Falcons, it’s their head coach. No one knows if the players knocking off San Francisco or rallying so publicly around Dan Quinn can save his job, but that effort is still very much underway. Those players are also fighting for themselves, because teams will take a hard look at Vic Beasley’s recent pass rushing success and De’Vondre Campbell’s all-around eye-opening play and weigh a nice contract, whether those teams include the Falcons or not. Teams that are already eliminated can be dangerous, and the Falcons have proven to be dangerous enough to create doubt about the assumptions we all made regarding what’s coming at the end of the season.
The Jaguars are battling for that, too, but they’re also fighting themselves. Jacksonville would love to go into this offseason on a high note, to prove that Gardner Minshew is the guy at quarterback, that this roster has enough talent to largely stay together next year, and that the front office doesn’t need to be swept out. But there is real tension between Doug Marrone and Tom Coughlin and between other members of the organization, as well, and it’s likely that big changes are coming to Jacksonville this offseason. All the Jaguars can do—and all that either of these teams can do—is the best they can.
While it’s a stakes-free game for the viewers at home, then, I expect a pretty good game and a lot of fight from both teams. Atlanta would score another point for Quinn if they were able to knock off an AFC team for a change, and the Jaguars would gain plenty of confidence from knocking off a hot Falcons team. It ought to be close and it ought to be good.
Here’s what you’ll need to know to watch it.
Atlanta Falcons vs. Jacksonville Jaguars, Week 16
When: Sunday, December 22, 1 p.m. EST
Where: Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia
Announcers: Joe Davis, Brady Quinn, Jenny Taft
Radio: 92.9 The Game
Key Questions: Are the Falcons capable of running against a lackluster Jaguars defense? Can they hold Gardner Minshew in check? Will Atlanta’s offensive line continue a run of strong play and keep Matt Ryan clean against a very capable Jacksonville pass rush?
Prediction: Falcons win, 27-20
SB Nation Opposition Site: Big Cat Country
2019 Falcons Schedule (5-9)
Week 1: @Minnesota Vikings — Loss
Week 2: vs. Philadelphia Eagles — Win
Week 3: @Indianapolis Colts — Loss
Week 4: vs. Tennessee Titans — Loss
Week 5: @Houston Texans —Loss
Week 6: @Arizona Cardinals — Loss
Week 7: vs. Los Angeles Rams — Loss
Week 8: vs. Seattle Seahawks — Loss
Week 9: BYE WEEK
Week 10: @New Orleans Saints — Win
Week 11: @Carolina Panthers — Win
Week 12: vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Loss
Week 13: vs. New Orleans Saints — Loss
Week 14: vs. Carolina Panthers — Win
Week 15: @San Francisco 49ers — Win
Week 16: vs. Jacksonville Jaguars — Sunday, December 22, 1:00 p.m. (FOX)
Week 17: @Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Sunday, December 29, 1:00 p.m. (FOX)