Jacksonville Jaguars fans haven’t had a lot to root for in 2016, but the role of spoiler is always a possibility as contenders get closer to the playoffs.
At 5-4 the Detroit Lions are the improbable leaders of the NFC North heading into Week 11. With the Green Bay Packers (4-5) struggling and the Minnesota Vikings (5-4) in free fall after losing four straight, the Lions have secured the lead with mediocre play and streaks of wins. Lest we forget them, the Chicago Bears are a dumpster fire.
Meanwhile, the Jacksonville Jaguars, playing the role of the Bears in the AFC South, sit at last place in their division at 2-7. The Houston Texans (6-3), Tennessee Titans (5-5), and Indianapolis Colts (4-5) all look far more competitive at this point in the season. The hope of possibly winning the first AFC South title in franchise history was quickly dashed in 2016’s struggle.
With that struggle has come a cold, numb feeling in many a Jaguars fan’s heart. The product on the field has failed to be competitive and the fans are eager to see the Gus Bradley era come to an end. Owner Shad Khan has resolutely stood by his head coach, adding to fans’ disappointment.
In this long slog of a season there is only one role left to the Jacksonville Jaguars; the role of spoiler.
The Lions may be the first team the Jaguars have a chance to truly play spoiler to. The Jags will follow this performance up with possible spoiler matchups against the Denver Broncos (currently in a hot AFC West competition with three teams holding seven wins) and the Texans again. The Jags have three opportunities in the final seven games to knock off teams that are division leaders currently or near the division title. With another game against the Colts and Titans and the Vikings, that number could possibly rise higher.
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But for Week 11 it is the Lions.
It may appear to be a long shot to take down a team that is above .500 (especially with Bradley’s track record, never having beaten a team that finished above .500) but it’s one of the few things left to hope for. The Lions certainly aren’t an insurmountable foe, placing near the middle in all major statistical categories.
With little let to hope for in the 2016 season, Jags fans just want to see something positive. Playing spoiler is that chance to be positive. Playing spoiler is that chance to prove that maybe, just maybe there is some progress being made in the quagmire that has been the Gus Bradley era.