Oh, here we go. You knew sooner or later there would be stories outlining why the Jacksonville Jaguars won’t make the 2018 playoffs. Thanks to a feature on For The Win, the Jaguars are one of four times chosen to sit at home for the playoffs after reaching the second season just a year ago.
Steven Ruiz writes he believes the Jaguars, along with the Carolina Panthers, Kansas City Chiefs, and the Buffalo Bills are franchises on the outside looking in of the playoff race. Coincidentally, the Jaguars knocked the Bills out of the AFC playoff by virtue of their Wild Card win 10-3 in December.
The Jaguars face the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on October 7.
"“As good as the Jaguars looked in last year’s playoffs, this wasn’t exactly a world-beating machine in 2017,” writes Ruiz. “In fact, had a wacky ending to their game against the Chargers gone the other way (as it probably should have), Jacksonville would have had to beat out the Bills and Ravens on a tie-breaker for the last playoff spot. And that was with the league’s easiest schedule, per Football Outsiders, and one of the healthiest rosters in the league.”"
He makes solid points given the NFL is usually a game of inches and missed opportunities. I might also argue the Jaguars lost to the New Jets in overtime 23-20 and lost to Arizona 27-24 when a late scoring drive was stopped, setting up a game-winning field goal. The one things the Jaguars will work on this season, as head coach Doug Marrone has explained in the past, is eliminating self-inflicted mistakes. Changes in offense and strengthening core areas on defense (defensive end, safety) will aid in that process.
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The speed at wide receiver and an improvement at tight end could also mean the Jaguars offense, which was fifth in the NFL in scoring (26.1 points per game), could be even better than last season.
"“The Jaguars have enough talent to not only make the playoffs but also win the Super Bowl but let’s say the team catches a few unlucky breaks: a key defensive player or two get hurt, Blake Bortles doesn’t develop, the AFC South is better all around. All of that is possible and could leave the Jags on the outside looking in next January,” Ruiz added."
Given the AFC South could be better than last year, with key players returning from injuries – Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck, Houston quarterback Deshaun Watson and defensive end J.J. Watt – the Jaguars will have a tougher time with division rivals and a tougher schedule to deal with.