The NFL regular season is almost over, and the Jaguars only have three games remaining on their schedule. They currently have a 9-4 record and have winnable games against the Houston Texans, San Francisco 49ers, and Tennessee Titans to end their year. The most difficult game of those three will be at the Titans in Week 17, but that likely won’t stop them from finishing the season with an impressive 12-4 record.
Prior to the 2017 NFL season, many analysts and experts did not expect the Jaguars to be a force in the NFL, most suggesting a mediocre team at best. However, seeing the acquisitions Jacksonville’s front office made in recent free agency periods and drafts, their performance this year is not surprising. Multiple respected sources were suggesting another down year in Jacksonville. ESPN’s FPI projected the Jaguars to finish with a 7-9 record and gave them a 10.9% of winning the division. Fivethirtyeight.com predicted the Jaguars to go 6-10 and gave them a 14% of making the playoffs and 9% chance of winning the division. Sports Illustrated projected them to finish 4-12. In July, I wrote an article suggesting the Jaguars would finally have a breakout year. Based on the roster Jacksonville assembled over the past offseason and the other teams on the schedule, I predicted the Jaguars would finish 10-6 and have a solid chance of making the playoffs.
Currently, Jacksonville is on track to meet my prediction and maybe exceed my predictions. At 9-4, key players are becoming healthy again with Telvin Smith returning next week after clearing the concussion protocol and being removed from the injury report. The Jaguars defense will benefit from Smith’s return, as he leads the team with 83 tackles this season. Unfortunately, Allen Hurns is still sidelined at practice, but Dede Westbrook and Keelan Cole have stepped up as solid targets for Blake Bortles.
Speaking of Bortles, the former University of Central Florida quarterback is playing his best football right now. Though he hasn’t done anything spectacular, he doesn’t need to for the Jaguars to succeed. Bortles has filled his role well by relying on the run game and making the necessary throws while limiting turnovers. He has only thrown one interception in the past four games, which is very impressive considering he is known for being one of the most turnover-prone quarterbacks in the league. Bortles looks more confident than ever, and he will need to remain confident if the Jaguars want to succeed in the postseason.
The Jaguars are the talk of the NFL, and they could finish above the New England Patriots hypothetically, giving them a first-round bye in the playoff. The NFL should be paying attention to the Jaguars and their defense, which is one of the best in NFL history. If franchises around the NFL were thinking Jacksonville was a hoax, then the Jaguars’ 30-24 victory over Seahawks certainly made those teams evaluate their perception of this dark-horse contender. With Bortles clicking and the defense continuing to shut down opposing teams, no team wants to play Jacksonville anytime soon.
If you would like to receive an email each time a new Jacksonville Jaguars article is published, fill out our email notification form.