The Jaguars have been one of the better stories in football this year. From last place in 2016 to 2017 AFC South champions, the Jaguars have come a long way.
It's been a bumpy ride this year with losses to the Jets, 49ers, Titans, Rams, and Cardinals. There have been some inexplicable losses to be sure.
There's also been a bevy of impressive wins. The Jaguars stomped the Texans and Colts two times a piece. They threw all over yard the against Ravens, beating down the birds 44-7. They went into Pittsburgh and handed the Steelers a 30-9 loss. The Jags have also beaten the Seahawks, Chargers, Bengals, and Browns.
While it hasn't been the smoothest of rides the Jaguars have been much better since the first month and a half of the season. These Jags started out just 3-3, but since then they've won seven of nine games, both losses coming when the team has traveled to play teams in the NFC West.
Now, in their final game of the season, the Jaguars face the Tennessee Titans, one of only five teams to have beaten the Jaguars in 2017. While the game means nothing for the Jaguars in terms of playoff seeding, it means everything for the Titans. Tennessee is 8-7 and is battling for one of the two final playoff spots - they'll need to beat the Jags in order to make the playoffs.
For the Jaguars this game will have the potential to effect who they play in the first round of the playoffs. If the Titans win then the Jaguars are likely to face them again the very next week, but if the Jags beat the Titans then the big cats will help eliminate their arch rivals from the playoffs for a second consecutive season.
This all begs the question: should the Jaguars go all in to win a game that won't effect their playoff seeding, but will help determine who they play in the first round of the playoffs?
On the one hand the Jaguars could use this game to rest players on the mend and to rest some stars to avoid the chance of injury. This would give the Jaguars the best chance of being at peak health when they take on their wildcard opponent.
On the other hand if the Jaguars lose to the Titans for a second time this season and then have to face them a third time in the playoffs it could effect the team's psychology in a negative way. It would also be eerily reminiscent to the Jaguars 1999 season - a season in which the Jags went 15-3, all three losses coming to the Titans.
So what should the Jaguars do?
They shouldn't hurry any one back for this game. If a guy is questionable they should let him rest.
As for their stars, it might not be a bad idea to rest a couple of them. With the way the Jaguars have been playing lately and the Titans in a major slump, I believe the most prudent course of action would be to rest a couple of the players that the Jaguars cannot do without in the playoffs.
I'm in no way suggesting the Jaguars should "throw" this game. Whoever is on the field needs to be giving maximum effort, and the coaches should install a full game plan in order to take down the Titans.
All the speculation is fun and quite interesting for those who follow the team, but it might not matter in the long run.
If the Jaguars eliminate the Titans from the playoffs this weekend, they'll certainly feel great about ending their division rival's season. But it could lead to the Jaguars having to play the Chargers or Ravens - both of whom appear to be tougher matchups right now than do the Titans.
Regardless of what happens the Jaguars will be hosting a playoff game on wildcard weekend. That is something to be excited about.
Stay tuned for more.
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