The Jacksonville Jaguars were supposed to be the team on the rise this season. The Jags were supposed to finally have their breakout season, and all their young pieces were supposed to mature together and spur them on to playoff contention.
What’s happened instead has been yet another disappointing start. And they only have one more shot to save their season.
All the hype from the offseason for the Jaguars seems like ages ago after they’ve stumbled to a 2-4 start. Jacksonville had found some momentum and won two straight games before running into the buzz saw that is Oakland. The offense had struggled to start the year, but after finding some traction against Indianapolis in London, they appeared to have found something. And they were about to face an Oakland defense that was the worst overall defense in the league.
Instead, the Jags laid an egg and now find themselves at the bottom of the AFC South once again.
Jacksonville has had one of the worst offenses in the NFL this season after posting impressive numbers last year. The Jaguars are averaging just 324 yards per game, the sixth-lowest total in the NFL. And their rushing attack has been especially putrid, averaging a paltry 76.7 yards per game. Only Minnesota and the New York Giants have averaged less.
Jacksonville’s defense may be improved overall, but it’s still allowing 26.7 points per game this season and has the fewest takeaways in the league.
But the Jags’ 2016 season isn’t over yet. They have one last shot to truly turn around their year, and it comes on Thursday Night Football.
The Jaguars take on the Tennessee Titans on Thursday night, and the loser will have sole possession of last place in the division. Even if the Jags lose and fall to 2-5, they should still technically be alive in the South because of how down it is, but they would be in a deeper hole with a division loss.
So as cliché as it sounds, Jacksonville’s game against the Titans is a must win for the Jaguars.
The Titans themselves haven’t been a great team this year either. Tennessee is 3-4 and their three wins have come against a winless Cleveland team and both the Detroit Lions and Miami Dolphins before they found themselves on offense. The Titans have kept it close in every loss so far, losing their four games by an average margin of 7.7 points. But the Titans have clear deficiencies the Jags can take advantage of.
Tennessee is tied for the second-fewest turnovers forced on the season and has a leaky secondary that’s allowing 250.8 passing yards a game. The Titans have been able to limit teams from scoring a bit despite the yards allowed, and their pass rush has turned it on as of late. But they can be burned, and their offense hasn’t proved to be consistent enough to come back if they get in too deep of a hole.
Jacksonville may technically still be alive in the division even if it loses to Tennessee on Thursday. But the Jaguars would make things much easier on themselves if they could find a way to win. And the win could very well turn around their season.