The Jaguars enter the final seven games of their 2019 campaign with their eyes still on the playoffs. At 4-5, the Jaguars are in thick of things in the AFC wild-card race.
Coming off the bye, I've got five predictions for the rest of the season. Predicting what will happen over a seven week stretch in the NFL often proves to be folly — especially when circumstances can change in the blink of an eye — but I'm doing this as much for my own entertainment as yours. And it'll be fun to look back at this as the regular season comes to an end in late December.
The Jaguars will finish the season with nine wins and seven losses . . .
That's right; the Jaguars will go on a bit of a run to close 2019. The Big Cats will win five of their last seven games. No, really. Their schedule down the stretch is favorable. They play the Colts twice, a team that Doug Marrone's Jaguars have beaten three out of four times. They also play the Titans on the road, a team the Jaguars dismantled early in the season. The Jags also host the Buccaneers and Chargers, two teams with a combined record of 7-12. And a trip out west to take on the Raiders could prove tricky, but it's a winnable game nonetheless. Prior to the season, a trip to Atlanta in late December looked like a loss, but the Falcons are just 2-7 in 2019. With Nick Foles back at the helm, the Jaguars' offense will be able to move the ball and score in the red zone, allowing the defense to play with a lead, and thus get after opposing quarterbacks.
And sneak into the playoffs . . .
This feels so wrong, but I've projected the records of each of the five teams ahead of the Jaguars in the wild-card race. The Bills are currently 6-3, and I have them going 10-6 on the season. In this scenario, they take the top wild-card spot in the AFC. As of this writing, the Steelers, Colts, Titans, and Raiders are all in front of the Jaguars in the playoff race. I see the Colts (5-4) falling off a bit down the stretch and finishing 8-8. The Titans (5-5) have a challenging schedule the rest of the way, and I believe they'll finish with just six or seven wins. Then we have the Raiders and the Steelers, both of whom will finish 9-7 according to my projections. That would leave us with a three-way tie between Pittsburgh, Oakland, and Jacksonville for the final wild-card spot. Because I have the Jaguars beating the Raiders, that would give Jacksonville the upper hand and eliminate Oakland (the Steelers and Raiders do not play this year). Then it would come down to the Steelers and the Jags. Their tie-breaker would be based on which team has the best conference record. In this case, the Jaguars are 8-4 in the AFC, while the Steelers are just 7-5. Obviously, there are so many ways this thing could go, but this is how I see it all shaking out at the end of the regular season.
Leonard Fournette will eclipse 2,000 scrimmage yards.
Leonard Fournette is having a huge season for the Jaguars' offense. Not only has he evolved as a team leader, but he's been putting up some big numbers, both on the ground and as a receiver. Fournette has 1,126 yards from scrimmage right now, which puts him on pace for just over 2,000 on the season. I'm predicting he'll complete the season without missing any games, and stay on, or exceed his current pace.
Josh Allen will fall .5 sacks short of the rookie sack record.
The Jaguars' rookie seventh overall pick has been a force early on his young career. Allen is tied for the league lead amongst rookies with seven sacks. Javon Kearse holds the all-time rookie record for sacks with 14.5. With seven games left, I think Allen will ramp up his production just a bit, but I see him finishing with 14 sacks. While this wouldn't be an NFL record, it would be the best mark by a rookie in Jaguars' history.
DJ Chark will have the second-most receiving touchdowns in a single season in franchise history.
DJ Chark has six touchdowns in nine games this year. That puts him on pace for 10.7 touchdowns on the year. That mark would be good for the second-most receiving touchdowns in franchise history. Allen Robinson holds the record with 14 scores back in 2015. I project Chark to score at least six more times this year, putting him at 12. His transformation from a lost puppy as a rookie to a dynamic receiving threat in his sophomore season has been a joy to watch.
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