With seven games left to play, the Jacksonville Jaguars are not out of the AFC playoff picture – yet.
The news of Nick Foles starting on Nov. 17 when the Jacksonville Jaguars travel to Indianapolis after their bye week is still the biggest story in the city. It should remain that way for the next few days until players return to practice on Monday.
Like it or not, the decision to make Foles the starter once again, a role he did not lose in the first place, gives the Jaguars a better chance to make the playoffs. That is what he was brought here to do. And as the coaching staff and offense gets acclimated once again with No. 7 under center, you get the sense a 4-5 record is right where this team needs to be.
A couple of more wins before the bye week would have been great – heck even a win against Houston last week in London would have been enough – but this is where the team remains with the Texans and Colts ahead of them in the standings. Looking at the schedule, it’s not unreasonable to think Jacksonville can win at least five of seven games in the next two months and hope the football gods are kind to them.
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"“Foles revived his career by coming in as an injury replacement for Carson Wentz in Philadelphia and leading the Eagles to the playoffs in back-to-back seasons and a Super Bowl championship,” writes Michael DiRocco of ESPN.com.“It’s a bit of a different situation with the Jaguars; Foles was the starter before getting injured in Week 1, and there isn’t the same kind of offensive talent on the roster as in Philly. But Foles has played very well in must-win, late-season situations, and that’s what the Jaguars have in front of them to have any kind of chance to make the playoffs.”"
Hopefully, the magic in the genie’s bottle is still left as it made its way to North Florida. The bottom line is Foles is a key reason to have hope. The issue for Jacksonville revolves around the AFC South, where they are 1-2, having beaten the Titans in the third week of the season and losing twice to the Texans.
There must also be a seismic shift in the division and Houston and Indianapolis must do their parts to change the direction for their AFC South rival. It’s not unthinkable.
"“The Jaguars have to beat the Colts twice and the Titans or they have no chance,” DiRocco adds."
Looking at the remaining games on the Jaguars schedule, you can make the argument every game is winnable if the offense moves forward from the debacle in London and the defense finds a way to stop the run.
Here is a look at the team’s remaining games…
- Nov. 17 at Indianapolis
- Nov. 24 at Tennessee
- Dec. 1 vs. Tampa Bay
- Dec. 8 vs. Los Angeles Chargers
- Dec. 15 at Oakland
- Dec. 22 at Atlanta
- Dec. 29 vs. Indianapolis
The two games against AFC South opponents to open the second half of the team’s season could define how the remainder of 2019 will pan out. The Jaguars must win both games to have any chance of a playoff berth. With Foles back, the Jaguars may have a better chance against the Colts defense. Also, playing on a fast carpet in Indianapolis, expect the team to use the passing game and hopefully find ways to use Leonard Fournette more effectively in the run game.
Playing in Tennessee, a team the Jaguars soundly this season is one of those games that I am not comfortable with, especially since the Titans are now playing with Ryan Tannehill at quarterback and there is the threat of Derrick Henry run over the team’s defense like he did last season.
Tampa Bay and Atlanta are two games the Jaguars will be favored to win and should because they are a superior team.
If Foles comes back and shows the same kind of touch he did in the short amount of time on the field in Week 1, it would foolish to count the Jaguars out of the playoff picture just yet.
The games against the Chargers and Raiders concern me. Los Angeles has a knack of coming into Jacksonville – sans 2017 – and handling the Jaguars. The game against the Raiders is tough because it’s a road game on the west coast where the Jaguars, no matter who has been the head coach, have not faired well traveling out west.
Both the Chargers and Raiders are a big part of the wildcard picture in the AFC. And given the Raiders just beat their AFC West rival on Thursday night, the road to grabbing the second wild card – conceding the first spot to the Buffalo Bills – just became even tougher.
It could mean the Jaguars must go 5-2 or 6-1 to even have a chance at the postseason, which also means the final game of the season at home against the Colts could be for a playoff berth for the home team. Head coach Doug Marrone and his players have their work cut out for them.