THE JAGUARS STILL HAVE A LOT (3 THINGS) TO PROVE BEFORE THEY CAN BE CONSIDERED LEGIT CONTENDERS
The Jaguars, at times, have been one of, if not the most, electric teams in football. They've blown out teams like the Steelers, Texans, Ravens, and Colts. They're on pace to set single season sack records. On defense they're at or near the top of the league in turnover margin, interceptions, forced fumbles, passing yards allowed, and several other categories. On the offensive side of the ball they have a running game that is second to none thanks to and improved offensive line and Leonard Fournette.
The Jaguars have done some truly impressive things this year, but they've got a ways to go before they should be considered a legit contender in the playoffs.
1. They need to win at home
The Jaguars have yet to win a game at EverBank Field in 2017. They've only had two opportunities, but both times the team was far from their best. Against the Titans the Jaguars were heavily penalized and got steamrolled by the Titans in the second half. Against the Rams the Jaguars special teams imploded, surrendering 17 points to the Rams off of ST mistakes. The point is, the team hasn't come out and played a quality game at home yet. They need all three facets to work for them in their coming home stretch. The Jaguars play five out of their next seven games at home - if they can't figure out how to win games at home, they're in big, big trouble.
2. They need to stack solid performances
The Jaguars have yet to win two games in a row this year. The big cats have won every odd week game and lost every even week game (weird, right?). For whatever reason the Jaguars haven't been able to win games consecutively this year. If the team hopes to win their division they'll likely need to win two games in a row at least once during the remainder of their schedule. The Jaguars first opportunity to win two in a row comes this weekend as they host the Bengals.
3. They need to stop the run
The Jaguars have got to stop the run. Adding a dominant defensive tackle like Marcell Dareus over the weekend will go a long way towards that end. In the Jaguars three losses they've allowed nearly 200 yards per game on the ground. Dareus is a run stuffing nose tackle that will line up next to Malik Jackson and should, at the very least, help clog the running lanes in the middle. It's possible that Dareus and the emphasis on stopping the run could turn this defense into a complete one - if that happens, the rest of the AFC needs to be very, very afraid.
The Jaguars could make the playoffs if they continue playing the way they have, but to become a serious contender once the tournament begins this team needs to prove that they can stop the run, win at home, and win consecutive games in a row.
What do you think? Are the Jaguars already legitimate contenders? Let us know in the comments below.
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