JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser checks in with a last look before the Jaguars play the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, Sunday at 1 p.m.
Jaguars (2-5), Jets (4-3).
So, you're saying there's a chance.
Yes, that's exactly what the standings are saying about the Jaguars as they exit the bye week and enter the last nine games of the 2015 regular season.
The Jaguars, who lost four consecutive games – three in frustrating fashion – before beating Buffalo in London the week before the bye, enter Sunday's game against the New York Jets a half-game out of first place in the AFC South. They are 2-5 with the Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans both 3-5.
The Jets are tough matchup – a strong defensive team that is good against the run and dangerous against the pass because of cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie. Offensively, the Jets are a physical, run-oriented team that depends on the experience and savvy of quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to avoid sacks and run the offense efficiently.
Can the Jaguars run? Can quarterback Blake Bortles make enough big plays and be efficient in the red zone? Can the Jaguars pressure Fitzpatrick into mistakes? Those questions could decide this one.
The Jaguars enter Sunday's game as close to full health as they have been this season.
The only player missing practice after Wednesday was wide receiver Marqise Lee, and the second-year veteran worked limited Friday. He was listed as doubtful on the team's injury report.
Guard Zane Beadles (foot) worked full on Friday and although he was listed as questionable on the injury report he said Friday he expects to play. Safety Josh Evans (groin), tight end Julius Thomas (abdomen) and wide receiver Allen Hurns (thigh/ankle) all were listed as probable, while safety James Sample (shoulder) was listed as questionable.
This is an unbelievably fortuitous opportunity for this team. The Jaguars have let three or four potential victories slip away in the fourth quarter this season. In most seasons, and in most divisions, the Jaguars would essentially be out of the playoff chase. But because the Colts and Texans are struggling, the Jaguars very much control their destiny. These players and coaches believe they're ascending and believe they're close. Now, they get a chance to show it. They have been given a second chance – a reset button for the season, essentially. Now, the question, "What will they do with the opportunity?"