GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — The Jacksonville Jaguars find themselves in unfamiliar territory. They are alone atop the AFC South at 7-3, the first time they've been in first place in their division entering Week 12 since 1999. They've won four in a row and haven't won five straight since 2005.
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — The Jacksonville Jaguars find themselves in unfamiliar territory.
They are alone atop the AFC South at 7-3, the first time they've been in first place in their division entering Week 12 since 1999. They've won four in a row and haven't won five straight since 2005.
And they're doing it with a defense that leads the league in several areas, including fewest yards and fewest points allowed.
"If you watch us play, you'll say, 'That's the best defense in the league,'" Jaguars linebacker Telvin Smith said. "A lot of people were like, 'We had it on paper in OTAs.' They were like, 'Y'all look good on paper.' But now we're bringing it to the field and bringing what's on paper to film. Film don't lie. And we ain't lying."
They are favored to make it five straight when they play at Arizona on Sunday. It's the fifth time the teams have met and the first time Jacksonville has played in University of Phoenix Stadium, which opened in 2006.
A big reason, literally, for Jacksonville's defensive prowess is Calais Campbell, the 6-foot-8 lineman who played nine seasons in Arizona before signing a big free agent contract with Jacksonville in the offseason. He entered this week's play tied with for the NFL lead in sacks with 11 1-2.
That defense will be facing none other than Blaine Gabbert, drafted in the first round by the Jaguars. He was 9-22 as a Jacksonville starter before being traded to San Francisco for a sixth-round pick.
Gabbert got his first Arizona start last week with Drew Stanton nursing a sore knee. He completed 22 of 34 passes for 257 yards and a career-high three touchdowns with two late interceptions.
The Cardinals (4-6) have lost two in a row and haven't had a winning record at any point of the last two seasons.
Here are some things to consider when Jacksonville meets Arizona:
THE OTHER RETURN: Although Campbell's return to Arizona has drawn all the headlines, another Jaguars player is going back to University of Phoenix Stadium with good memories.
Quarterback Blake Bortles had one of his best college games in the 2014 Fiesta Bowl. Bortles completed 20 of 31 passes for 301 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran for 93 yards and a score in UCF's 52-42 upset of Baylor. The Jaguars chose Bortles with the fifth overall draft pick nearly five months later.
"We had never played in a crowd like that, at a place like that," he said, "so to go out there and beat a team that everybody thought was really good was pretty cool."
BUDDA'S DEBUT: Rookie Budda Baker had quite a debut as a starting safety last week.
The Arizona second-round draft pick became the first Cardinal with at least 10 tackles, a sack and two forced fumbles in a game. He is the second player to accumulate those stats in a game in the last six seasons. Zach Brown did it for Buffalo in 2016.
RUSHING WOES: The Cardinals acquired Adrian Peterson to boost what had been the league's worst running game. It's worked against the poorer defenses, not against the good ones.
Peterson gained 26 yards in 14 carries in last weekend's loss to Houston, 29 yards in 21 attempts the game before that against Seattle. His big games were 134 yards against San Francisco and 159 yards against Tampa Bay.
Peterson needs 47 yards rushing to pass Marcus Allen for 13th on the all-time list, 50 to pass Edgerrin James into 12th.
Against this Jacksonville defense, that is no given.
FITZ KEEPS CLIMBING: While other receivers on the roster struggle with dropped passes, ineffective play and injuries, Larry Fitzgerald is, at age 34, having another outstanding season. He has 69 catches, one fewer than NFL leaders Antonio Brown and Adam Thielen. Fitzgerald's 768 yards receiving rank seventh in the league.
And he's been especially effective at home, averaging 108 yards receiving per game.
Fitzgerald needs 52 yards receiving to move past Isaac Bruce for fourth place on the NFL career list. He has caught a pass in 205 consecutive games, third longest in NFL history.
JERSEY WISH: Campbell has only one real wish other than a victory when he returns to University of Phoenix Stadium. He wants so much to trade jerseys with Fitzgerald.
AP Sports Writer Mark Long in Jacksonville contributed to this report.