JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser checks in with a last look before the Jaguars play the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland, Sunday at 1 p.m.
Jaguars (2-6), Ravens (2-6).
The time for playoff talk is over.
At the very least, it's time to put that talk about the Jaguars on hold for a while – or at least until they win a couple of games in succession.
Yes, the Jaguars at 2-6 still have plenty of incentive entering the second half of the season. And with the AFC South-leading Indianapolis Colts still under .500 at 4-5 – and with the Colts without quarterback Andrew Luck for two-to-six weeks – the postseason still isn't out of the question.
It just can't be at the forefront of the Jaguars' minds.
That's because the Jaguars have more pressing issues – such as reducing the six sacks allowed in a loss to the New York Jets last week, or reversing their 0-4 takeaway-giveaway ratio against the Jets. Overall, they're still trying to turn yardage (they're 16th in that category) into more points (24th) and trying to turn being competitive into winning.
So far, they haven't done it. While the Jaguars have improved statistically this season with quarterback Blake Bortles on pace for nearly 4,400 yards passing and 34 touchdowns – and with wide receivers Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson on pace for more than 1,200 and 1,400 yards respectively – victories have proven elusive. They have been in seven of eight games in the fourth quarter this season, but have lost five of those seven games.
The main focus Sunday morning will be on the Jaguars' wide receiver position, with Marqise Lee and Allen Hurns both listed as questionable on the Friday injury report.
Hurns, a starter in all eight games this season, participated in the walkthrough Friday. He said Friday afternoon he is confident he will play Sunday.
Lee, who has missed the past five games with a hamstring injury, ran well in practice this week, and was hopeful on Friday about his chances to play.
"Free – that's probably a good word for it," Lee said when asked how he had felt running in practice this week.
The top three receivers if Lee and Hurns don't play will be starter Allen Robinson, Bryan Walters and rookie Neal Sterling.
Safety James Sample (shoulder) will miss a fifth consecutive game, with defensive tackle Michael Bennett (hamstring) and outside linebacker Dan Skuta (groin) not practicing Friday and listed as questionable. Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley said Skuta likely will be a game-time decision.
Rookie Thurston Armbrister likely will start in Skuta's place if Skuta can't play.
Guard Zane Beadles (knee), running back Toby Gerhart (groin) and tight end Julius Thomas (abdomen) all worked full Friday and were listed as probable.
The Jaguars have another opportunity, and this is a very real one. The Ravens have struggled this season, and while they remain confident they can win enough games to push for a playoff appearance, this is a depleted roster with wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. and defensive end Terrell Suggs out for the season. The Jaguars spent the first half of the season competing and getting tantalizingly close to victories on numerous occasions. Remarkably, they enter the second half of the season a game and half out of first place in the AFC South. Because the Indianapolis Colts are idle, a victory Sunday will move the Jaguars to within a game of first place. Imagine that.