“We’ve earned the right to another 65 snaps.”
Head coach Doug Marrone’s adage has kept the Jacksonville Jaguars even keeled and focused on each week, preventing them from looking ahead or thinking about potential matchups in the playoffs. You’re a fool if you think they’re looking past the New England Patriots on Sunday.
I can though.
I believe the Jaguars will win on Sunday. There’s no doubt in my mind about it — for nothing other than this is their team-of-destiny moment.
The collected coach seeking vindication from everyone who doubted his hire.
The much maligned quarterback who embodies everything we love about Duval.
The dominant defensive lineman who reached the pinnacle of this sport his rookie year, and hasn’t gotten close since.
The gifted tight end whose career was spent toiling in the muck of Mike Mularkey and Gus Bradley.
These are just a few of the players that’ll add a new chapter to their stories on Sunday. But, there’s an easier-than-it-seems case to be made for the Jaguars appearing in their first ever Super Bowl.
Our defense is constructed in the same vein of those that have beaten Tom Brady before. We’re first in DVOA this year. We don’t need to blitz to get pressure on Brady. We have the depth to cover all of his weapons. We force turnovers and score defensive touchdowns at a league high rate.
Offensively, we’ll be fine. The Patriots are 31st in DVOA. To put that in perspective, the Ravens are third, and we put up 44 points against them.
People talk about the San Francisco 49ers game as a reason why we’ll lose. That game was an oddity and has little bearing on Sunday’s matchup. There was a forward progress call that negated a very obvious fumble, and a fluke pick six that bounced off of Keelan Cole’s hands.
How could you not say we are a team of destiny?
We literally threw two picks in the last two minutes of the Los Angeles Chargers game and still won.
We played the Buffalo Bills during the AFC Wild Card round, without a doubt the best matchup for us. They had a 3 percent chance of making the playoffs.
Our owner donated 1,000 tickets to refugees and Puerto Rican men and women displaced by Hurricane Maria, and reduced ticket prices for military veterans to go to the Wild Card playoff game.
“We’re 65 snaps from the Super Bowl.”
And to go up against Brady and the Patriots, the very team we began our season with.
We’ve conquered all our demons this year: Philip Rivers, the playoffs, the division, the West Coa... well, almost all. Now, it’s time to conquer that last demon, the one that haunts many teams. The greatest demon of all.
Embrace it, Jaguars fans. Don’t be afraid to embrace the feeling this week. It took a hell of a long time to get here.
A team of destiny... isn’t that what they were calling the Patriots in 2002?