How Will The AFC South Affect Playoff Chances For The Jaguars?

There is no doubt about it. Playing in the AFC South is playing knowing that your best may not be good enough. When you play along side the Colts, Titans, Jaguars and Texans you know your journey to the playoffs won’t be with a confident strut. It will be more like a few cautious steps as you always look over your shoulder, seeing how close your competitor is behind you. 

The Titans managed to snatch the lead out of the Colts’ hands for the first time since 2003. With the fall of Vince Young and the rise of Kerry Collins, the Titans went on to win 11 games straight. However, a key component of those wins will not be returning to Tennessee in the 2009 season. Albert Haynesworth will be playing happily with his engorged contract in Washington. It is difficult to see Tennessee winning the division again but that does not mean they will not be an ever-present thorn in the side of the Jaguars’ playoff chances. Defeating the Titans is something the Jaguars have always struggled to do. 

Even though the Colts relinquished their hold on the AFC South, they were still a force to fear and respect. They started off their season on a bad foot (or should I say a bad knee?) but managed to recover in typical Colts fashion. When things started to look bad, Peyton Manning got his hands on the ball and you knew there was too much time left on the clock to count them out. The Colts started off  3-4 but ended the season with an 12-4 record. Even though they are under a new head coach, Tony Dungy’s presence will still be felt. As we saw with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, that is sometimes all you need in order to get into the playoffs. The Jaguars still have to get their Colts monkey off their back in order to have any strong presence in the post-season. 

The Texans are the wild card. They probably won’t make it to the playoffs but they will surely get in the way of anyone who tries. They are a young franchise but they are gaining ground with every season that passes. They certainly have the number of every AFC South team. The Texans splitting the wins with their AFC South brethren is not a hard idea to swallow. The Jaguars are the last AFC South opponent they face and you would be smart to bet on the fact that they will play that game for all its worth. 

The Jaguars themselves are a huge “if”. It will be remarkable if they make it as far as the playoffs this season. It would be much more likely to see them stronger in the 2010 season when they have another draft under their belts and they are able to fill more of their holes. However, that seems to be just the type of element the Jaguars thrive on. The Jaguars are the team to surprise you when you’re least expecting it, a story told throughout their short history.

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    4 sho u right about the formost of the things u talk about.The JAGS will be a better team then last years version most definently all they needed was a offensive line and some defense and they just might have with this years team.Their younger and wiser cause of the veterans they have learned up under like tra thomas for the lines mentor and tory holt for the wide out mentor on defense they have john henderson and mathis.I think if they beat at least the titans and the texans they will be on the road to the playoffs ….

  • Bryan

    I would say that the Titans will not be as impressive this year as they were last. I think Kerry Collins caught everyone by surprise. The defensive scheme was built around a mobile QB not a pocket passer who had something left in the tank.

    The way to beat the Colts is to slow them down and keep up score for score. I would say the Jags are positioned to do this.

    The Texans are the Texans, they still have QB issues but they have an underrated defense and should be an unexpected (by the WWL standards) challenge for the AFC South.

    Realistically the Jaguars go 3-3 in the division.

    • Jeanne

      Bryan — Exactly. The way to beat the Colts is to keep Manning’s hands off the ball.

      I agree with you on most of your points. However, there will be factors that none of us consider until after the first game of the season is on its way. Kerry Collins is in the same position Garrard was this year. Can he repeat his performance? Will Manning’s age start to wear on him? What affect will the new coaching staff have on the Colts? Things like that affect the game in more ways than we could actually predict in the off season.

      Your prediction seems very accurate, though.

  • Shaky Jake

    Lets not forget Jeff Fisher is still the coach in Tennesse and since 99 has been a thorn in the Jaguars plans. As well as rebuilding and becoming a playoff team a lot faster than anyone expected of them. Their defense will still be stout and Collins didn’t surprise anyone except his receivers because he threw the ball to their hands and not their feet or over their head. They will be dangerous until Young is back under center.

    The Texans have always had the Jags number and are now a much improved team.

    As for the Colts they will be tough as long a manning is under center. Their team will be built around him and their defense on speed.

    Until the Jaguars can find the motivation to get up on game day for division rivals they will always be at best second in the division. I beleive the Jaguars will be better this year and will probably surprise some of their critiques but I for one am not stteing my hopes too high. 2005 12-5,2006 8-8, 2007 12-6, 2008 5-11 lets hope the trend continues.

    • Jeanne

      Jake, I know a lot of people hail Jeff Fisher as a genius but if the Jaguars hadn’t injured Vince Young he would probably still be starting. Obviously, we saw last season what happened when some one else headed up the team. I don’t think that Kerry Collins will be able to repeat and the loss of Albert Haynesworth is a big, big deal for the defense. They will struggle to find the footing they had last season.

      I agree with you, though. The Jaguars have struggled with performing against divisional rivals and until they can do more than split wins than they will always been the in race for the wild card.

  • Shaky Jake

    I think Jeff Fisher’s hands were tied with an expensive first round quaterback in Young who when he started won games no matter how bad his passing game was. Until he got hurt and Collins started winning Young was expected to be the starter. Much like Del Rio was tied to Reggie Williams and Matt Jones. I do not hail Fisher as a genius just good at manaaging the talent he has personally I can’t stand him and the comments he makes about the Jax being his second home. Haynesworth being gone will definantly hurt them but before his last two years they had a stout defense and nobody knew who Albert Haynesworth was. When Haynesworth was hurt their defense was still strong and will be this year. We will get to see early in the season.

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