It has been a long time since the Jacksonville Jaguars have played in meaningful games. Sure, every game early on in the season is technically meaningful, because no one is actually mathematically eliminated. Without kidding ourselves though, the Jaguars have played in many games the last \seven years, in which where there was no light at the end of the tunnel.
The last time the Jaguars played a truly meaningful game was in 2010. A Week 15 showdown between the 8-5 Jaguars, and the 7-6 Indianapolis Colts was the game of the week. If the Jaguars won, the AFC South would essentially be theirs for the first time since 1999. The Jaguars lost 34-24 to the Colts that Sunday, and would go on to lose their last two games of the season. This was a marking point for the dip in performance the team would take, as we all hung on to what were seen as the last parts of a competitive football team.
There have been games that were seen as important by local fans, but none that really effected the Jaguars chances of making the playoffs. There was the slight glimpse of hope in 2015, where the Jaguars went into the Weeks 4-6 against the San Diego (now Los Angeles) Chargers, with an actual chance their division because of how putrid it was. The Jaguars lost that game 31-25, in a game where the score didn't represent how far away they were from beating the Chargers.
One could say last years opener against the Green Bay Packers was an important game. If they beat the Packers, who have one of the best quarterbacks in the league in Aaron Rodgers, it would officially mark a new era in Jaguars football. It would legitimatize the "offseason champions" claim. However, they came oh-so-close to a win, as a questionable screen call on the last fourth down play of the game for them was snuffed out.
Aside from games of small significance, the team has been too putrid to ever truly be involved in meaningful games. Yet in a year where the team had almost no expectations, they enter Week 2 vs the Titans with a chance to have their biggest win since 2010.
Week 1 played out perfectly for the Jaguars. Not only did they destroy the Texans, but with the Titans loss to the Oakland Raiders, and the Los Angeles Rams demolishing the Colts gave the Jaguars their first lead in the AFC South in the first time in recent memory.
The Texans are playing a short week on Thursday night, with five players in the concussion protocol, almost no tight ends, a suspended Brian Cushing, and a rookie quarterback starting his first game behind a putrid offensive line. Home teams win Thursday night games over 70 percent of the time, so a loss for the Texans is not out of the question.
The Colts could not have had a more of a disastrous start to their season. Not only were they blown out by the Rams 46-7, but they benched their starter Scott Tolzien by the second half of the blowout. Jacoby Brissett, who has been in Indianapolis just over a week, will make the start this week against the Cardinals. Andrew Luck still has no timetable for his return, and without him, the Colts are looking at a bleak future at best this season.
If the Jaguars take care of their business vs. the Titans this weekend, they could set themselves up to possibly be 2-0 to start the season, while the rest of the division is 0-2. Not only would a 2 game lead be huge for them, but starting off 2-0 in the division, which could play into tie breakers, could be sneaky important for them moving forward.
With a win in a Week 1, ESPN Football Power Index already gives the Jaguars a 54.9 percent chance to win the division, as well as a 65.4 percent chance to make the playoffs. Teams that start off 2-0 have made the playoffs 58.6 percent of the time the last 10 years, according to OddShark. A 2-0 start does not guarantee the Jaguars anything, but what it does is give them better odds then many could have imagined to start the season.
A win against the Titans is always sweet. A win to go 2-0, give the Jaguars a two-game lead in the division, and increase their playoff odds? Well, that would be their biggest win since glorious Gene Smith Era.
Things never seem to all fall in place for our beloved Jaguars. A win this weekend could start turning that around.