The Jacksonville Jaguars are in the middle of a playoff push, and showing they can accomplish three important feats would make them even more dangerous.
The Jacksonville Jaguars are coming off of their bye week right in the AFC playoff race. Jacksonville currently sits in the second wild-card spot, but still very much alive for a division title and home playoff game.
With the off week over, a nine game stretch remains for the Jaguars, with a serious opportunity to make 2017 a season to remember.
If the Jaguars want to remain in the chase as the season unfolds, the team must show they can accomplish these three things:
1.Winning consecutive games
This one has been a frustrating missing component all season. The Jaguars have had multiple dominating performances this year, but have failed to seize the momentum the following week. In the last half of the season, Jacksonville has to break this trend to stay afloat in the race to the postseason.
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In the final nine games, the Jaguars have the easiest remaining schedule in the league. Not only are there no excuses to not win back-to-back games, winning at least three in a row at some point in this final slate of games in not an unreasonable expectation.
Coming off the win in Indianapolis over the Colts two weeks ago, the Jaguars will have yet another opportunity to break the trend on Sunday against the Bengals.
2. Winning a close game
In addition to not having back-to-back wins on their résumé, the Jaguars also have not won a close game this season.
In their four wins the average margin of victory has been nearly 27 points, so Jacksonville has proven to be able to take a game over. But when the going gets tough, and a game comes down to the wire, the Jaguars have not been able to step up and pull out a close victory.
In week four versus the New York Jets, the Jaguars scored on a defensive touchdown with 10:26 to go in the game, bringing the deficit to 20-17. The defense held the Jets scoreless the entire final quarter, but the team could not put together a game-winning drive, settling for a late field goal to put the game into overtime.
In overtime, Jacksonville had three opportunites to put points on the board and win the game, including a drive that entered Jets territory. But the Jaguars failed to score, and New York won on a field goal.
In week six against the Los Angeles Rams, Jacksonville trailed by one possession for nearly the entire second-half. But once again, the Jaguars couldn’t sting together successful drives to win the game.
With a playoff push on the horizon, stakes will get significantly higher as the season progresses, and games will be all-out battles. The Jaguars have proven regularly that they can win in runaway performances. But Jacksonville must show they have what it takes to prevail in a nail-biter.
3. Offense stepping up in crucial moments
This necessity essentially goes hand-in-hand with the previous one.
Everyone knows the backbone of the Jacksonville Jaguars is the defense. A monstrous unit loaded with superstars that has been a nightmare for opposing offenses all season.
But the offense is not quite the same story.
That’s not to say that it hasn’t improved, because it certainty has. And when the team gets a lead, the offense is built to sit on it, and has done so effectively in four blowout wins.
But the question that is still left unanswered is if the offense can deliver in big moments. It’s one thing to be successful when you have a lead, but Blake Bortles and company still has to prove they can move the ball down the field and score when the game counts on it.
As previously mentioned, when you are fighting for a playoff spot there are going to be tight games. The defense has done its job all season, but the offense must show it can develop a clutch-gene and make plays when they have to be made, especially in the fourth quarter.
The Jacksonville Jaguars are poised to make a run to January football, and if they show they can accomplish these three things the rest of the season, the team can make some serious noise.