Jacksonville Ends 10 Year Playoff Drought

The Jaguars Dominated The Texans, Earning A Playoff Berth For The First Time Since 2007: The Takeaway

Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew runs they ball at Heinz Field, against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2007 AFC Playoffs.

Jacksonville, FL — The Jacksonville Jaguars (10-4) will go to the playoffs, led by their top-ranked defense. The addition of rookie runningback Leonard Fournette and key free agents such as Calais Campbell and A.J. Boyue have propelled Jacksonville’s dominant run. But the question was, could Jags quarterback Blake Bortles do enough, be enough?

Yes, he can.

Jacksonville started the season at Houston with a dominant win featuring ten sacks. Now in week 15, the Jaguars have another dominant victory over Houston (4-10) with a season-high 45 points.

Without their top three receivers from last year and Fournette, Jacksonville proved they are more than a fluke; they are the real deal and a threat to anyone who faces them in the playoffs.

The Jaguars will be tuned into the 4 o’ clock games if the Tennessee Titans lose Jacksonville will clinch the AFC South with a win next week. If the New England Patriots lose, Jacksonville will have the inside track for the No. 2 seed in the playoffs.

The Injury Bug Ensues

After not practicing this week, Fournette missed another game due to a quad injury. The Jags leading receiver this season Marquis Lee left the Sunday’s game with an ankle injury and did not return. Both players have been banged up this season.

Fournette should return next week, and Jacksonville hopes to get receiver Allen Hurns back next week as well.

Earning a bye week in the playoffs to get healthy will be vital towards the Jags success.

Bortles’ Confidence 

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Jacksonville’s passing game is without question the weakness of their team. Bortles’ future with the Jags is in question due to his production on the field, most noteworthy, his turnovers.

The narrative has changed over the past eight weeks, with seven touchdown passes and no interceptions. Sunday, the fourth-year quarterback had arguably his best game of the season going 21-29 for 326 yards with three touchdown passes and a passer rating of 143.7.

Bortles navigated the Texans’ defense without Fournette, utilizing three first-year receivers.

The success of Bortles going forward will determine if Jacksonville will be a legitimate Super Bowl threat once the playoffs begin.

Rookies to Superstars

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With Lee going out in the first half, Jacksonville had to rely on three rookie wideouts to get thru the game.

Due to Lee’s departure, special teams standout Jaydon Mickens had to step up. Mickens recorded four catches for 61 yards and two touchdowns.

Mickens slept in his car during training camp to save money for a place to live. He’s really blossomed over the past five weeks and will be relied heavily for the remainder of the season.

Jags receiver Keelan Cole has been the most productive rookie receiver this season. Cole continues to impress as he hauled in seven catches for 186 yards and score. The undrafted rookie serves as the big play threat, having back-to-back games with 70 plus yard receptions.

Defensive Prowess

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Everyone know Jacksonville’s defense is elite. They lead the league in scoring defense, total defense, pass defense, sacks, and takeaways. The addition of defensive tackle Marcel Dareus from Buffalo has shored up their run defense.

The question is who wants to see this defense in the playoffs.

No one, including Tom Brady and the Patriots. And they already beat the Steelers in Pittsburgh.

The Jaguars are the new bullies in the NFL, wreaking havoc week to week. If Bortles can be consistently productive on offense, the Jaguars’ Super Bowl aspirations become legitimate.

Up Next: Jacksonville travels cross-country to face the San Francisco 49ers.