The Jacksonville Jaguars' season has been a tale of two cities.
Week 1 and 3, where they absolutely dominated the other opponent, and Week 2, where the defense collapsed after it could not hold up anymore. In two games, they had no turnovers, and no sacks allowed. In their loss, they turned it over three times.
We know what this team needs to look like in order to win ball games. They have to control the ball, dominate defensively, and let Bortles throw freely enough that their offense is not too predictable.
I wrote about how Week 2 against the Tennessee Titans had the opportunity to be the biggest game for the Jaguars in the last seven seasons. Well, only two weeks later, this game has the ability to legitimize the team. Now, some most be thinking, how could a game against the New York Jets, who are one of the worst teams in the league, set a benchmark for this team?
Because good teams beat the teams they are supposed to beat.
The Jaguars are favored for the first time on the road since 2011, where they were playing the Peyton Manning-less Indianapolis Colts in 2011. They had gone 44 straight road games without being installed as a favorites, an impressive mark, even in a negative light. While the Jets actually dominated the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, not allowing them to score until the final play of the game, the Jets are not a good team. They have purposely torn down their roster in an effort to rebuild, in one of the more clear displays of tanking in the NFL in a while.
The theme of the first two weeks has been the defense dominating underwhelming offenses. While the Jets have not been completely putrid on offense, the personnel they have should not scare the Jaguars one bit.
Josh McCown is a career turnover machine. According to Pro Football Reference, McCown has a thrown an interception once every 33 pass attempts, which is fairly high for someone who has played the amount of snaps he has had in his career. McCown has played well so far this year, but has not faced a defense of the Jaguars caliber this year. The Jaguars need to force McCown into the quarterback he has always been, and force him into multiple turnovers.
On the outside, the Jets may have one of the more uninspiring receiving groups in the league. Robbie Anderson is a deep threat, and newly acquired Jermaine Kearse is a respectable receiver. But with all due respect, I think the Jaguars have already faced many better threat in the passing game these last few weeks in DeAndre Hopkins, Eric Decker, Delanie Walker, Corey Davis, Jeremy Maclin, and Mike Wallace.
The Jets offensive line leaves a lot to be desired as well, though Brian Winters is one of the more underrated guards in the league. Sacksonville may be able to make an appearance if all falls right.
Any way you put it, the Jaguars defense has a chance to absolutely demolish the Jets offense, and if the offense can give the type of performance it did last week, it should be a fairly easy victory.
Holy crap, did I just say the Jaguars should easily win a game?
This is when expectations come into play. As Alfie wrote on Monday, one key to the Jaguars' success has been their killer instinct. They have been able to put their foot on the gas, and separate themselves, where in the past they usually folded. This week, they need to put their foot on the gas all the way from kick off. Maybe the Jets beating the Dolphins on Sunday was one of the best things that could happen. Doug Marrone can point to Dolphins as an example of not sleeping on any team ever.
The Jaguars are clearly the better team on Sunday. Honestly, I can't think of any part of the team that is worse talent wise then the Jets. Maybe special teams? However, the Jaguars on paper, are clearly the better team. Being better on paper though, does not guarantee anything. Any given Sunday is a term often used, but after this last week, where many teams had surprising losses, not team can be taken lightly.
For maybe one of the only times in the season, the Jaguars will have a more talented offense then the opposing team. They need to take advantage of this, and take chances in the game. Let Bortles throw on first down. Take shots down field. Find a way to add onto the confidence of the offense. This unit will never be consistent, but building confidence in itself will play a big part in how consistent they can actually be.
It seems like the Jaguars have laid an egg each time they come off an impressive victory. Putting together two dominant wins in a rows would be a step up for this team, who has not done so in recent memory. Winning games is hard in the NFL, but it is even harder when you don't win the games you are supposed to win. The Jaguars have a chance to go 3-1, and pose a legitimate threat to the Steelers in week 5. And dare I even say, make a push for the playoffs?
Make big plays.
And just win, baby.