The Jacksonville Jaguars have a real shot at making the playoffs. Yes, that is not a typo. And that is not some crazy offseason hype talk, either. Jacksonville has started the season on a strong note, and there is a real chance we can see them in the playoffs this season.
Why would anyone say that? After all, it’s the Jaguars we are talking about. Well, it turns out they have a much-improved team on both sides of the ball. For the first time in a while, the team actually looks competent on both offense and defense. And it seems both the draft picks and the free-agent signings have worked as expected.
Players like Barry Church and Calais Campbell have to give Jacksonville a huge boost on the defensive side of the ball. A.J. Bouye has enough talent to be one of the best cornerbacks in the entire league. And the additions through the Draft this year have been excellent. Just look at Leonard Fournette. The former college star has had a stellar season so far. And during Sunday’s win against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Fournette rushed for 181 yards and two scores on 28 carries.
Sure, Blake Bortles remains a question mark and Allen Robinson is out for the season with an injury. But as long as Fournette is out there, the Jags should be dangerous enough on offense to keep the opposing defenses honest. However, and as surprising as it might sound, the Jaguars’ talent level might not be the lone reason why the team has a good chance to reach the playoffs. Playing in the AFC South should boost their playoff chances as well.
Just look at their opponents. The Tennessee Titans are a huge question mark without Marcus Mariota, and the third-year quarterback continues to rehab from a nagging hamstring injury. Tennessee seems to be Jacksonville’s biggest threat, but they depend on Mariota’s health to contend. Otherwise, they might not have enough talent to make the thing work.
The Houston Texans and the Indianapolis Colts are in the equation as well. But the Texans won’t be a better team following the news of J.J. Watt missing out the rest of the season, as he was a key member of the Texans’ defensive scheme. Javedeon Clowney could eventually replace him, but Watt is the clear leader of the secondary and the entire defensive unit.
Last but not least we have the Colts. But they won’t count unless Andrew Luck returns to practice. The former #1 overall pick is the franchise’s heart and soul. And Colts are simply not good enough to contend while their star quarterback is out. It’s as simple as it sounds.
Through five games, the Jaguars have a 3-2 mark and sit at the top of the AFC South standings. The Colts, Texans, and Titans are 2-3, so things are far from certain and anything could happen. But the first few games show the Jags are ready to contend. And who knows? Maybe they can turn a few heads around in the process