By CJ Carlson
The Jacksonville Jaguars were coming into Week 17 on a four-game losing streak. In the process, they played horrible football that resulted in them getting into a three-way tie for the division title. This matchup against the Carolina Panthers was a season changing moment for this Jaguars group, and they rose to the challenge.
Jacksonville fought hard from the very beginning despite not having quarterback Trevor Lawrence on the field, and they shut out the Panthers during a 26-0 win. Backup quarterback CJ Beathard got the start, completing 70 percent of his passes for 178 yards. He didn’t throw a touchdown, and he didn’t turn the ball over. For once, the passing game wasn’t forced to carry the offensive load, as has been the case all year long.
The run game finally decided to wake up. Travis Etienne took 16 rushes and turned them into 102 yards with two touchdowns. This included a long 62-yard touchdown run. Backup runner Tank Bigsby took 10 carries for 32 yards, with Beathard scrambling three times for another 24. Simply put, the ground game changed the landscape of this offense for the better, but we just haven’t seen it consistently enough to believe it’ll happen on a weekly basis.
Jacksonville Jaguars Defense Could Lead To A Division Title
What’s even more impressive is their defense. Now look, the Panthers defense isn’t the best. However, shutting out an opponent in the NFL is a very tall order, and Jacksonville did just that. They had an interception while sacking Bryce Young six times. Three of those sacks came from their star edge rusher Josh Allen, with two more coming from Travon Walker. Young only had 112 passing yards on the afternoon, completing under 60 percent of his passes. Jacksonville came out and proved that they wanted this one more than Carolina.
Looking at their final week of the season, there’s a ton riding on it. They will take on the Tennessee Titans in the season finale. If they win that game, they are immediately listed as the division winners and secure themselves a spot in the postseason. The problems can begin to arise if they stumble and lose to their division rivals. Assuming the Titans win this finale, the Jaguars can’t win the division.
The reason being is because the Indianapolis Colts and the Houston Texans face off against one another, and each are tied with the Jaguars currently for the division lead. The winner of that game will win the division if Jacksonville loses. The Jaguars could still snag a Wild Card playoff spot if they lose the division, though that’s not an ideal situation down there.