The Jaguars pulled off a real stunner in their season opener a week ago, beating the reigning division champion Texans 29-7 on the road in a game that made the entire NFL stand up and take notice.
The Titans, the other team that was expected to contend for the AFC South title this year, are up next at Jacksonville’s EverBank Field. Here’s a closer look at what the game means and what the Jags need to do to win it.
Why it’s worth watching
The Jaguars (1-0) haven’t played a home game with a better-than-.500 record since December, 2010. That tells you just how miserable they’ve been, but today’s game offers them a chance to further change the narrative, re-energize their fan base and show they really are capable of competing for their division title. The Jaguars still have a lot of doubters, and rightfully so, but Leonard Fournette looks like an early rookie of the year candidate and the defense may be among the best I nteh league. That unit put on one of the best shows any defense will put on all season last week when it recorded 10 sacks and four takeaways, so it will be interesting to see what it does for an encore.
Key on: Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles
Bortles did exactly what the Jaguars wanted him to do last week. He played efficiently in beating the Texans, completing 11 of 21 passes for 125 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. The Jaguars would love it if that was all Bortles had to do to win each week, but it won’t be. Starting this week, opponents are going to start filling the box in an effort to stop Fournette and put the game on Bortles shoulders. Bortles has reportedly made some good strides in his desperate attempt to correct the mechanical flaws that derailed him a year ago and he’s playing with more confidence right now, but he still has to prove he can win games when the it’s mostly up to him to win them.
With its 10 sacks and four takeaways last week, the Jaguars defense stole most of the headlines and rightfully so. The Jaguars O-line played a game worthy of a few headlines, too, though. With so much uncertaintly regarding the left guard and for a while the left tackle, that unit has been the source of some consternation within the Jaguars camp. It impressively held its own in a battle against one of the best defensive fronts in the league last week, though, allowing just three quarterback hits and no sacks. No one expects the Jaguars front line to play at that level throughout the course of the season but a performance like that tells you just what this group is capable of.