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O-Zone: Good reason

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Eric from St. Augustine, FL

I read on the NFL website that TL is "peaking" just at the right time. I disagree, he is not near the peak yet, he is just on the ascent. Wait a while and he will reach his peak.

The Jaguars are getting better. Quarterback Trevor Lawrence is getting better. He is trending toward being one of the elite quarterbacks in the NFL and one of the league's faces. I expect the Jaguars to be good and newsworthy for a long time. With this being the case, there will be much more said and written about the Jaguars. I say this to caution Jaguars fans not to pick over every word, sentence, paragraph and "take" written or said about the team. A lot of it will be wrong. A lot of it will be casually or hurriedly written without deep insight or knowledge of what's happening with the organization and its players. Many people will write about the Jaguars without having watched the games, attended practices or spoken to the players or coaches. They will be opining without any real knowledge, and that's OK. That's their job and it will create conversation. This is the nature of the beast. But the words will have little effect on team performance and will often have little basis in reality. But more to your point … yeah, Lawrence is on the ascent. He hasn't peaked. I expect he's years from peaking.

Jeff from Wake Forest, NC

All the talking heads are talking what's wrong with the Jets not what's right with us. We have no Pro Bowl players. But you know what? That's ok. I woke up with Tracey Ullman in my head.

I'll extend my answer from the previous question a bit here. As I've said often here, I don't pay much attention to postseason honors or what talking heads say. They rarely reflect reality. Remember, too: When a small-market team plays a big-market team, national "talking heads" are usually going to focus on the bigger-market team because they probably have paid more attention to that team all season – and because more fans nationally are going to be familiar with that team. The nice thing about this phenomenon is that what matters are the games. Remember the thrill you had when the Jaguars beat the Baltimore Ravens? The Tennessee Titans? The Dallas Cowboys? The New York Jets? That wasn't about talking heads or awards. It was about what happened on the field. That's the cool stuff. That's what matters. Those are the memories.

Neil from Fan Since '96

Correct me if I am wrong. If the Jags beat Houston and Tennessee beats Dallas that would put teams at 8-8 overall, and both teams with 3-2 divisions records. If Tennessee wins in Week 18 would the tiebreaker be AFC record?

No, if Tennessee wins in that scenario, the Titans would win the AFC South based on a 4-2 division record compared to the Jaguars' 3-3 record.

BJJ from Rudy from Sacramento, CA

Looking at the landscape of the AFC, is it out of the question for the Jags to be considered a dark horse Super Bowl team? The climate surrounding season-long divisional top dogs has cooled with the likes of Baltimore and Tennessee in the AFC, and now with Philly hurt and Dallas struggling, the surging Jags might just have a puncher's chance in the tournament. Or am I on a cloud and just caught up with the joy of it all and reaching here? We were competitive at Arrowhead despite the self-inflicted mistakes and are playing at twice the level we were then. Is it OK to dream, John?

Dream if you like. The nature of the NFL postseason is such that any team qualifying has a puncher's chance. The Jaguars have earned their way into playoff contention with victories over multiple playoff contenders. They have not fluked their way here. I can't honestly say I would love their chances playing the Kansas City Chiefs, Buffalo Bills or Cincinnati Bengals on the road in the postseason.

Sean from Oakleaf, FL

I know all division games for the last week of the regular season has been around for a while - but it really is genius by the NFL as it sets up high drama games ahead of the playoffs.

It's a good idea and certainly has the desired effect, though a case might be made that it doesn't exactly take a "genius" to figure out playing teams within the division might decide who wins the division.

Marty from Jacksonville

John, in a column recently you said the Titans game could be January 7 or 8. Is it possible the game could be changed from Sunday the 8 to Saturday the 7?

None of the NFL's Week 18 games have been scheduled and all at this point either could be played on either January 7-8. Times and dates will be determined after Week 17.

Dean from Rochester, NY

If the Jags beat Houston and the Titans lose to Dallas but win Week 18, we go to the third tiebreaker of common games, which I think the Titans hold the advantage, right?

If the Jaguars beat the Texans and the Titans lose to Dallas and beat the Jaguars, the Titans will win the AFC South because of a better record in the division.

Sid from Jacksonville, FL

Any chance we get to see an Ozone ponytail for the playoffs? We've heard for years you used to rock one during our 90s success but no proof.

I sported my version of a ponytail during the 1996 season and during the Jaguars' playoff run following that season. There are no known pictures and no plans to bring back it back. It was a bad, ill-advised look. To clarify: I still looked damned good, just not as good.

Zac from Austin, Tejas

Remember when all the Colts had to do is beat the very bad Jaguars team to make the playoffs? And then didn't go?

This was last season, and you're right that a struggling Jaguars team knocked the Indianapolis Colts out of the postseason with an upset victory in the regular-season finale. The comparison doesn't really apply to the Jaguars' situation this season, though. They will play the Titans in the regular-season finale for the AFC South title and a trip to the playoffs. For the Jaguars, it's a chance to cap a remarkable late-season run. The Titans are struggling, but they're an experienced team that has won the last two division titles. I expect the game to be competitive and tight to the end. But whatever the result, the Jaguars won't be overlooking anything.

James from Salt Lake City via Jagsonville

I feel bad for Smoot and the team. Though not great he was playing pretty good football. The injury he sustained will probably keep him out for part of next year. His career in Jax could be over.

Jaguars defensive lineman Dawuane Smoot indeed announced on Instagram Saturday he is out for the season with a torn Achilles sustained in a victory over the New York Jets Thursday. It's too early to gauge Smoot's future – either with the Jaguars or how long he will be out. Treating Achilles injuries has changed dramatically in recent years, and players return more quickly – and with more frequency – than once was the case. What will Smoot's future hold with the Jaguars? It's far too early to speculate, but you're right that he was playing very well. He was a leader. He was productive. And he was well-respected. He's not irreplaceable, but he will be missed the rest of this season.

KC from Orlando, FL

KOAF with the injury to Smoot, do you anticipate the Jags looking for any free agents to bolster their playoff run, or do you see them just going with the next man up?

Next man up.

Shawn from Jacksonville

With left tackle Cam Robinson injured, are the Jaguars going to sign a free agent lineman to cover down on the shortage?

Next man up.

Tom from Jax Beach

Get well Big Smoot! You have always been an "always the Jags" kind of man!

One fer Smoot.

MrPadre from St Marys, GAI

I realize there are good reasons to wait, but would it be a good idea to go ahead and extend Trevor now? Could save many millions by not waiting a couple years plus would make a statement to Trevor and take away any anxiety he may have about his future. Not that he should worry but getting that secnd contract is always a big deal to the player.

The Jaguars absolutely won't extend Lawrence's contract following the 2022 season. But it's not because it wouldn't be a good idea to so. It's because you can't extend draft selection's contracts until following their third season. This is Lawrence's second season, and I would expect movement on this front following the 2023 season.