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Day after: Division at stake

Posted Dec 18, 2017

Head Coach Doug Marrone a day after the Jaguars moved to within a victory of their first AFC South title: “This team has done a good job of bouncing back, of being able to celebrate a win …”


JACKSONVILLE – The keel stayed noticeably even Sunday.

If that has been a defining trait in what continues to be a successful Jaguars season, Head Coach Doug Marrone said Monday he doesn’t expect that to change.

“This team has done a good job of bouncing back, of being able to celebrate a win and then get back to work,” Marrone said a day after the Jaguars (10-4) clinched their first playoff appearance in a decade with a 45-7 victory over the Houston Texans (4-10) at EverBank Field.

The Jaguars must do that again this week in a game with high stakes.

The Jaguars, winners of seven of eight games, can clinch their first AFC South title with a victory over the (4-10) San Francisco 49ers at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California. The 49ers have won three consecutive games and four of the last five.

The Jaguars also could clinch the division before kickoff Sunday.

They currently lead the Tennessee Titans (8-6) by two games in the AFC South. The Titans play the Los Angeles Rams (10-4) at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tennessee, Sunday, at 1 p.m. If the Rams beat the Titans, the Jaguars will clinch the division because they will be assured of finishing with a better overall record than Tennessee.

The Jaguars will play the Titans in Nashville in the regular-season finale December 31. If the Jaguars lose to the 49ers and the Titans beat the Rams, the Jaguars-Titans game on New Year’s Eve will decide the division title.

The Jaguars last won a division in 1999 when they won the old AFC Central with an NFL-best 14-2 regular-season record. The Jaguars have never won the AFC South.

The Jaguars never have entered the final two weeks of the season in sole possession of the AFC South. They were tied for first place with the Indianapolis Colts at 8-6 in 2010 before losing their final two games.

Also on Monday:

*Marrone said he had no update yet on wide receiver Marqise Lee, who left Sunday’s game in the first quarter with an ankle injury. He said Lee’s status will be updated Wednesday. …

*Marrone praised wide receivers coach Keenan McCardell. All three of the Jaguars’ top receivers entering the season – Lee, Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson – were out Sunday, with Robinson out for the season since Week 1 with a torn anterior cruciate ligament and Hurns out the last five games with an ankle injury. Rookie wide receiver Keelan Cole caught a career-high seven passes for 186 yards and a touchdown Sunday and first-year veteran Jaydon Mickens caught his first two career touchdown passes. Rookie Dede Westbrook also has played a huge role in recent weeks, catching 22 passes for 256 yards and a touchdown in his first five NFL games. “Keenan has been challenged greatly,” Marrone said. “I really think he’s done an outstanding job. I can’t say enough. He probably out of all the positions has been the most challenged from the youth players. The players obviously have responded to him. That’s the other thing you look for – how players respond.’’ …

*The Jaguars are now sixth in the NFL in total yards and third in yards allowed; the only other teams in the Top 10 in both categories are Pittsburgh (fourth, fourth), Minnesota (eighth, second) and Philadelphia (sixth, third). The Jaguars rank first in the NFL in passing defense and rushing defense.

*The Jaguars continue to lead the NFL with 51 sacks and veteran defensive end Calais Campbell is second in the NFL with 14.5 sacks behind Chandler Jones of the Cardinals (15.0). The Jaguars also lead the NFL with just seven red-zone touchdowns allowed; the next closest team, the Los Angeles Chargers, have allowed 13 red-zone touchdowns this season. …

*Marrone on second-year linebacker Myles Jack: “The one thing I’ve learned about Myles is he takes a great deal of pride in knowing what do and how to do it and really performing at a high level. … He does a great job of learning and reacting and I just think he gets better and better. I think that this is only the beginning for Myles. He’s getting better in each quarter of football that we’re playing. He’s playing his best football now and I expect him to keep becoming a better player as his years in the league increase.” …

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