After snapping their three-game losing streak, and getting interim head coach Mel Tucker his first win as an NFL head coach, with a 41-14 blowout of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the 4-9 Jacksonville Jaguars make the short trip north to face former Jaguars defensive coordinator Mike Smith and the 8-5 Atlanta Falcons.
The Falcons are coming off a come-from-behind 31-23 win over the Carolina Panthers, scoring 24 unanswered points in the second half to keep their grip on a Wild Card spot in the NFC Playoffs and remain in the hunt for a second consecutive NFC South title. The Falcons received an additional scare after the win over the Panthers when Smith, 52, was taken to a local hospital after suffering chest pains before the team's charter flight left Charlotte. Smith returned to the club on Monday and was present for their walk-through practice.
Quarterback Matt Ryan leads a high-flying passing attack, which ranks 10th in the NFL and has produced eight plays of 40+ yards, against an injury-weakened Jaguars pass defense that somehow ranks fourth in the league and has allowed just one 300-yard passer (New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees) this season. For the Jaguars, the offensive focus is on running back Maurice Jones-Drew, who leads the NFL with 1,222 rushing yards and scored four total touchdowns in Sunday's win over the Buccaneers.
Game Date/Time: Thursday, December 15, 8:20pm ET
Location: Georgia Dome, Atlanta, Georgia
TV Schedule National: NFL Network
TV Distribution Map: The506.com
Falcons: Star 94 FM & 790 The Zone