Can Jacksonville Jaguars Make NFL Playoffs?
For many years, the act of mentioning the Jacksonville Jaguars in the same sentence as the NFL playoffs was a cruel joke, a form of heresy given just how inept the Jaguars have been on the field. But this season may be different, as the Jaguars ware in playoff contention thanks to a combination of good luck within their division and some improved play as of late. But will their late season surge be enough to qualify for the NFL postseason?
Subpar AFC South
Most divisions within the NFL are strong enough to where it takes at least nine wins to qualify for the playoffs. However, the AFC South is anything but strong, as the team that wins it may not even end up with eight wins depending on how the remainder of the season plays out between the Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, and Jacksonville Jaguars.
Both the Colts and Texans are tied for the division lead with 6-7 records, while the Jaguars sit a game behind them at 5-8. Houston and Indianapolis play each other this week, while the Jaguars host the struggling Atlanta Falcons. A win this week would keep Jacksonville a game back of first place in the division, with games against the New Orleans Saints and Houston Texans remaining. Being in third place isn’t great, but it is certainly possible for the Jaguars to win all three games and make the playoffs.
Jacksonville Jaguars Playing Better
In addition to the Jacksonville Jaguars’ fortunate division situation, they are also playing some very respectable football for the first time since David Garrard and Byron Leftwich were quarterbacking the team to victories with Fred Taylor at the running back spot. And it’s been their offense pacing their resurgence this time as well.
That offense is led by quarterback Blake Bortles, who was a controversial pick when he was drafted in the top five of his NFL draft class out of Central Florida. Bortles has thrown for over 3,500 yards this season, and has done a nicer job of limiting turnovers than he did last season, his rookie campaign. One huge reason for that progress is experience, but the other is a great wide receiving corps.
Wide receivers Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson have both been dynamic playmakers for the Jaguars this season, and have made things very easy on Bortles thanks to their ability to get away from their defenders with their route running skills. Their ability to make difficult catches along the sidelines and in traffic has also made Bortles’ second year in the NFL a giant leap forward for both the quarterback and the franchise.
While there is no guarantee that we will see the Jacksonville Jaguars in the NFL playoffs any time soon, the fact that there is a chance this season is a big deal for a team in need of some good news over its recent history. Eventually these steps forward will need to become playoff successes, but that time is a long way away and this season can be enjoyed by Jaguars supporters for now.
By: Jason M. Sanin