The past few weeks we have seen a Jaguar team pull miracle after miracle. This sunday, they pulled one miracle, that being the offense in the first half, and almost pulled another miracle that being the last drive before their luck ran crashing to a hault. Yet still, people must see the other miracle, that being that the Colts are looking a little off their normal path of division dominance. While the super bowl loss curse has some credibility, it must also be pointed out the the Jaguars inconsistency and seemingly cursed end of season woes also have credibility. So which one wins out; hope or doubt?
Jacksonville Jaguars: To Hope
Besides slip ups at Kansas City and Tennesse, as a team we must admit that the Jacksonville Jaguars have improved as the season has continued on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. If the Jaguars can run for almost 150 yards on the ground against the Giants defense, how badly can they shred the Colts defense, how can Tennesse or Houston dare touch the red-hot Jones-Drew?
Garrards consistancy has been iffy, but its been better than in past years. While he does seem to have his off games, his off games of late have been less off than in past games. For example, in Cleveland, although throwing for multiple interceptions, some which granted weren't his fault he also orchestrated two huge touchdown drives which would eventually win the game for the Jaguars. Last week, barring a disaster of a game ending drive, no matter who was at fault, he still did manage to drive the team to the 30 of the Giants, and played a wonderful first half.
The combination of Sims-Walker, Thomas, and Lewis is the best passing combination in years for the Jaguars. Even with Sims-Walker's unfortunate drops last game, he made a few nice catches and lets also remember is on the high ankle sprain.
On a similar topic, the character of this team is greater than arguable any Jacksonville team of the past. And on this note and fact, we surmise that this team is different. It is older than last, more mature, more wise, more focused. This in itself, along with the betterment of the team is what will carry the Jaguars to first place in their division.
But is that really true? Are the Jacksonville Jaguars really going to reach for first place? They have no one stopping them. If they don't win the division it'll be no ones fault but their own. But is that fair to place upon a young growing football team? Or are we bound for another year like last year?
Last year the Jaguars had a tough end of schedule. This year it is not so frightening, as it features teams that all fall one win below 500 besides the Colts
The Titans: You have to think that the Jaguars will want to avenge their loss, and will be playing with fire after a tough tough loss. This is a team of character and this is what they are known for. Rebounding.
The Raiders: This is in Jacksonville, thank God, and hopefully the 1 o'clock time will affect the Raiders. Plus, the Raiders are more of a Running football team than a passing one which is also comforting.
The Colts: The grandaddy of them all. Enough said.
The Redskins: I watch this team every week and I must say they are very similar to the Jaguars of last year. Can be good when they want to be, and they have a very good deep ball, which scares me.
Texans: Hopefully, by this point, the Texans will have nothign to play for. And if all goes well, niether will the Jaguars. If there is somethign to play for, pound MJD all day.
So if you really think about it, the Jaguars could feasibly, and I mean feasibly run the table. Then, theyd have a playoff game IN JACKSONVILLE. Wow, what a place that would be.
More interestingly though, we know that the sucess of the Jaguars is linked to MJDs level of production. In the losing streaks, he has struggled. In the winning ones he has soared, besides the Giants game, but let us remember that 3 weeks ago they were the best team in the NFC if not the league.
Run Defense Rankings:
Titans: 17th against the Rush
Raiders: 28th against the Rush (and at home)
Colts: 30th against the Rush
Redskins: 26th against the Rush (and at home)
Texans: 8th against the Rush (but who are we kidding, the reason that's so low is that if you don't pass on the Texans there's obviously something wrong with you)
So besides the Texans rush defense which ranks as 8th, which I find incredibly misleading, the Jaguars will not face a defense that should have any chance of stopping MJD considering the way he has been playing.
That usually means a W for the Jaguars. Usually. However, lets say that the Jaguars do in fact lose to the Colts in week 15. Lets look at the Colts schedule.
Dallas: They've looked strong of late, and against the Colts defense, anythings possible
AT Titans: Hopefully, they'll be pissed coming off a loss to the Jaguars and look to shock the Colts on Sunday Night Football. This would be a huge win for the Jaguars, becuase it would place the Colts with a lower divisional record even IF they beat the Jaguars, that is IF the Jaguars beat the Titans.
Jacksonville: In this scenario, lets say that the Colts come out with a Win.
AT Oakland: The Colts must travel TO Oakland, which may give them some problems. The Raiders aren't a terrible team, can run the ball, and can defend the pass very well (they rank 5th in the league).
Titans: Divisional games can be tough, but I really don't see the Colts losing this game. If anything, they lose to the Titans in Nashville, but anythings possible.
No matter what the Jaguars will win the divison if they beat the Colts and go 3-1 in games versus the Titans, Texans, Redskins, and Raiders. If they lose to the Colts, MAY NOT be absolutely necessary to win out provided that the Colts slip up somewhere else. The Jaguars games in importance are
No matter what the Colts game will be the most important, no debating that. The Titans game is above the Texans becuase if the Jaguars beat the Titans it should instill the confidence in this team that it needs to make this end of the season run.
However, this is where we reach the doubt section.
Jacksonville Jaguars: The Doubt Section
The main reason to doubt the Jaguars is simple. Their incosistancy is opposed by the Colts consistancy. The Colts win every year, even when the Jaguars go 12-4 or 11-5. Whats to think that this wont happen this year too?
1. The Experts Pick the Colts: Not like we care, but could we be biased? We are all the most hard-core fans that the Jacksonville Jaguars have, so maybe just maybe we want to think that our team has more of a chance then it actually does. Is there anything wrong with that, no, but take this into consideration.
2. The Jaguars Always Do This: I read the fanpost about the sinking, bad feeling being gone from Jaguars games the other day and I must report that I still have those feelings. The Jaguars did this last year too, they grabbed our imaginations and then they quickly dropped us back to earth. Isn't that what Garrard is famous for? (Not to hate on him, because I do believe that he is given way to much crap for the way he plays)
3. The Jaguars Defense: They aren't very good, if you haven't noticed. And while they are steadily improving, even on pass defense, they still are nowhere near even decent. Rush defense has been better, but overall is our defense really going to win us a divison when our offense is incosistant.
4. Inconsistancy- Hopefully, the Jaguars will save their full games for right now. They need them. Especially versus the Colts.
5. Third Quarter Struggles- While the Jaguars have seemingly played well in 1st, 2nd, and 4th quarters, they have fallen apart in third quarters, and that could really cost this team the divison. At least its better that not showing up for any quarters though.
6. Who have we really beat- We asked this at the end of last season as well. This year the Jaguars have beated medicore teams, instead of terrible ones like last year. But isn't this following the same script? Remember the Jaguars had a nice 3 game winning streak last year too, only to see it fall apart in Miami and the dream in Indy.
7th and most concerning to me, will the Giants game throw this team in a depressed slumber? Remember last year what happened in Foxbourough? The Jaguars had just played a game VERY similar to the Giants game of a week ago, where they had a 31-28 lead for most of the 2nd half, but the team couldn't bury the Colts, and just like the Giants the Colts stopped the Jaguars around 20-30 yards away from a valiant comeback. Can the Jaguars rebound, or is the air of excitement gone?
And even with the loss to the Colts, if the Jags had beaten the Pats and Browns last year they would have been in the playoffs. So they had a lot to play for.
In other words: is the belief gone? is the magic gone? is the hope gone?
For us fans, no its not. But for the Jaguars it may be.
The Jaguars have a chance to be talked about, to be noticed, and to win a division. Could you imagine the support that winning a divison would bring the Jaguars? We might finally have a complete sellout in Jacksonville.
They also have a chance to be called the same-old Jaguars.
Last year, many Jaguars players spoke of regret, wishing they could have the chance they had again, to prove they could do it, to redeem themselves.
And here they have it.