We've made it, Duuuval! Last game of the season and the decade. In a season that had its highs and lows, the Jaguars have one final chance to make a statement headed into the new year plus get some momentum going. There's a lot to be excited about with this Jags roster and we saw flashes of it all season long.
For the finale, Jacksonville will take on the 7-8 Indianapolis Colts in an AFC matchup. The Colts' season was filled with high hopes after 2018, but came to a halt when franchise quarterback Andrew Luck departed the team before Week 1. They've been a team that was plagued by injuries, and could never get back to the team they were a year ago. Both teams look to finish their season strong.
The player to watch in this matchup is wide receiver DJ Chark Jr. The wideout can reach a milestone as he's only 26 yards from reaching 1,000 receiving yards which would be the perfect ending to his breakout sophomore campaign. Earlier this week, QB Gardner Minshew said the wideout is one of the best in the league. He went on to claim, "If he wouldn't have been banged up, I think he would have had [1,000 receiving yards] by now, but it's a thing that's special."
This season Chark has caught 69 passes for 974 yards and eight touchdowns which almost tripled his numbers from his disappointing rookie season. While being so close to a huge milestone, the second year wideout isn't making a huge deal out of the moment. He acknowledged the achievement saying, "I think that would be pretty cool for me. I would be excited… but it wouldn't make or break how I feel about my season." He went on to add that he isn't playing this week to join the 1K club, but playing because he likes football and wants to win with his team.
The matchup to watch this week is between rookie Josh Allen and second-year offensive tackle Braden Smith as Allen is in the running for Defensive Rookie of the Year. The Jaguars' defensive end has been a huge bright spot this season.
Allen has been a demon off the edge for the Jaguars, piling up 41 pressures and 11 QB hits to go along with his 10 sacks. He also leads all rookies in sacks, ahead of 49ers rookie Nick Bosa by one. However, the rookie isn't concerning himself with high praise for his performances. "I can't control [winning DROY]. I can just control what I do on Sunday," Allen said. "You think about my college career, it's been like this my whole life. It's nothing new to me. I still got to keep fighting every week, and fight for my teammates, first off. Play for them. I'm just going to keep doing what I do." That's the kind of attitude to be excited about. This is a player that is going to continue to wreak havoc for years to come.
Before we can get to the postseason accolades, Allen will need to finish Week 17 strong. He will mostly be lined up against tackle Braden Smith who is a second-round draft pick from the 2018 draft. After his Week 16 performance, Smith was placed on the Pro Football Focus, "Week 16 NFL Team of the Week". In fact, he was just one of nine tackles to allow no pressures in the passing game. Needless to say, this will be an exciting matchup between two young, great talents.
To wrap up the season, we've got two amazing recipes to try created by Fresh from Florida! One appetizer, and one main meal!
First up, Florida Boiled Peanut Hummus.
What You'll Need:
2 cups Florida Boiled Peanuts
2 cups chickpeas
1 tablespoon tahini
⅔ cup olive oil (or more as needed)
1 lemon, juiced
3 tablespoons barbecue sauce (your favorite)
1 tablespoon all-purpose seasoning (such as Everglades)
½ teaspoon liquid smoke
3 tablespoons cold water
Fresh herbs for garnish (fresh chives)
Drain and rinse chickpeas. Place all ingredients, except the oil, into a food processor or blender. Turn on and slowly drizzle in oil. Scrape down sides as needed until mixture is smooth. Serve with fresh Florida vegetables and crackers. Store in refrigerator for up to 7 days.
Next up, Florida Roasted Chicken Sandwich.
_What You'll Need: _
Florida Roasted Chicken, sliced or shredded
2 large Florida tomatoes, sliced
Bread (your favorite)
Optional toppings: mayonnaise, mustard, pesto, cheese
_The Preparation: _
Prepare roasted chicken according to recipe. Assemble sandwich as desired. Store in refrigerator until ready to serve. Can be prepared one day in advance.
Fresh tip: leftover roasted chicken can be used for sandwiches, soups, or pasta dishes.
That's all for 2019! Thanks for following along all season Duval. Stay committed, stay excited - there's a lot to look forward to in 2020.