The Jacksonville Jaguars played the Green Bay Packers about as good as they could have, with some mistakes ultimately costing them the football game, but for four quarters the Jaguars looked like they belonged with a perennial playoff team and that’s more that a lot of people expected prior to the game. Falling to 0-1 on the season against the Packers isn’t really a big deal, but if the Jaguars have any hopes of making the playoffs in 2016, they have to beat the San Diego Chargers on Sunday.
A lot of teams make the playoffs after starting the season 0-1, that’s not that big of a deal. Being 0-1 doesn’t significantly decrease the Jaguars chances of making the playoffs, but if they lose to the Chargers on Sunday and fall to 0-2, that changes their chances exponentially.
Since the 2007 season, 66 teams have started the season 0-2. In that same span, only four of those 0-2 teams ended up making the NFL playoffs.
Yes, just six percent.
While yes, I am telling you there’s a chance, it’s exceedingly slim and the Jaguars probably aren’t the type of team that can go on the kind of run needed to recover from an 0-2 start to finish the season as a playoff team. The one thing they do have going for them however, is that they play in the garbage can division AFC South.
As for what’s right in front of them however, the Chargers are a team that the Jaguars should be able to beat and match up well with. The Chargers are without their two top receivers in Keenan Allen and Stevie Johnson, leaving their main offensive threats as the ageless Antonio Gates and the diminutive but versatile Danny Woodhead. The Chargers were also missing Allen last season and still beat down the Jaguars, but a lot has changed since then.
The Jaguars have since upgraded their offensive line, overall, and added more bodies to their defensive line, albeit a lot of unproven rookies. They did add Malik Jackson who has a pretty good history against the Chargers and Sen’Derrick Marks looks to be back to his old self.
The biggest change however is in the secondary, which should allow the Jaguars to pin their ears back and dial up pressure to move Phillip Rivers from the pocket and make him uncomfortable. Sure, Rivers might hurt you if you start blitzing him a lot, but the Jaguars should have the players in the secondary to match up well enough to force him into throwing into tight windows, and if he beats you like that than so be it.
Defensively the Jaguars did a good job frustrating Aaron Rodgers, but there were some plays left on the field both for the Packers and the Jaguars defense. A lot of people think this should be a great match up for the Jaguars and one they should win, but you always have to be weary of Rivers, especially when you run a predominantly Cover 3 defensive scheme like the Jaguars do. Quite simply, Rivers eats it up.
If the Jaguars can come out running the football effectively with T.J. Yeldon, they should be able to control the game as long as they can bottle up the Chargers offense. I do think the Jaguars come away from the West Coast with a rare victory, but I don’t think it’s going to be as easy as some fans seem to think.