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O-Zone: International cool

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Bill from Palm Beach Gardens, FL

What a game. I really don't know what to think about the defense, though.

There's little mystery to the Jaguars' defense, though it absolutely came through in a big way during a 40-34 overtime victory over the Dallas Cowboys at TIAA Bank Field Sunday. It's not a great unit and it's not often going to dominate games. It's probably going to allow a lot of points in some games, and there are going to be moments when it seems like the game's getting away. At the same time, it's a unit that plays hard and never seems to get down on itself. The players continue to believe and give maximum effort, which is why it has been able to get multiple crucial stops and turnovers in big situations the last two weeks in victories over Dallas and the Tennessee Titans. Those plays in those moments have been key in turning around games recently – and they absolutely were key late Sunday. It's a bend-but-don't-break defense and it's playing to that description in a big way.

Nick from Annapolis, MD

Let's say Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence keeps at his current level of play and the Jaguars finish 9-8 and enter the postseason as AFC South champions. Does he receive any Most Valuable Player votes? The only people in the league that could have replaced Lawrence and still gotten the Jags to this record are MVP candidates. He has the highest passer rating and completion percentage in the league since November. It's obvious he is still improving, but why shouldn't he be in the conversation at this point? Yes, they obviously need to make the playoffs to warrant this consideration.

While I don't give as much thought to postseason honors as many readers, this point has merit. If Lawrence continues this level of play, I expect he would be at the outer edges – the very outer edges – of the MVP conversation. I doubt he would receive serious consideration because players such as Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts, Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow, etc., have been more consistent from the beginning of the season.

Mike from Mandarin

John, Can we say Immaculate Interception?

Don't let me stop you.

Bobby from Salt Lake City, Utah

Just curious, O dude... what will happen if the Jaguars win the next two games and the Titans lose the next two games? The Jaguars enter the final week ahead by one and lose that last game. Since we ended the season in a tie in that scenario, who would get the nod to the division?

Tennessee would win the AFC South in your scenario. The first division tiebreaker is head-to-head record and the teams would have split the season series. The second tiebreaker is division record. Tennessee would be 4-2 in the division in your scenario and the Jaguars would be 3-3.

Steve from Hilton Head, SC

John, the postgame interview with Trevor Sunday was with Erin Andrews. Even after the game, his hair was better than hers.

Good eye. Great hair.

Chris from Delray Beach, FL

Remember when the Jaguars couldn't score points in the red zone? Yeah, neither can I.

Good eye. Red zone offense indeed was a major issue early in the season, which was unsurprising because that area of the field is about precision – and therefore it's often the last area for an offense and a quarterback to develop as they grow. Lawrence is growing and developing rapidly, and the Jaguars' offense is developing as new players learn a new scheme and each other. That the offense's red-zone offense has become more and more efficient is a logical – and welcome – aftereffect.

Mike from Omaha, NE

This isn't really a question, but I just wanted to let you know how much my wife and I enjoy reading your and Brian's articles/opinions, as well as watching Drive Time. Thank you for all you both do!

Who's Brian?

P Funk from Murray Hill

Was the Josh Allen in coverage for Cowboys tight end wheel route touchdown a play the Cowboys got us in a mismatch? We've seen the defensive ends in coverage a lot this year. With our scheme on D, is our play designed for them to cover or is the D exploited by a smart offensive call?

Both. Allen and Travon Walker are outside linebackers. In a 3-4 scheme, there often will be situations in which outside linebackers are in coverage.

Nick from Annapolis, MD

There's a chance the Cowboys would have the No. 5 seed clinched when they play the Titans Week 17. I guess the Jaguars need to win out.

Just win, baby.

Johnny from Jagsville

In some kind of weird way, I suddenly feel good about that goal-line interception in London. Not sure any of this happens without it?

I thought about this answer, which is in direct contrast to my normal approach of blasting out answers on my keyboard without regard to reason – and you may be right. Lawrence threw two interceptions in a 21-17 loss to the Denver Broncos in London, including one in the end zone that was perhaps the biggest factor in the loss. Lawrence has improved dramatically since the moment, and both he and Jaguars Head Coach Doug Pederson have pointed to that game as a turning-point moment. Lawrence has said he has remembered his feeling in the locker room after that game, saying he never wanted to feel that way again. I won't say the game changed Lawrence's career. He is a mega-talent and a hard worker, and he was going to ascend eventually. But would it have happened in this way? At this time? Perhaps not. So … one fer the goal-line interception. Why not?

Steve from Congro from Jacksonville

I think it was you that described Peyton Manning's rookie season and said, "By the second half of his rookie season, it was clear he was going to be good." Considering the mess that was Trevor's rookie year, do you see similarities in how the two progressed at this point in their respective seasons?

I didn't cover the Colts until 2001, Manning's fourth season, so I can't make a great comparison here. I can tell you it's absolutely clear at this point of his second season that Lawrence is going to be very good – and very likely great.

Eric from Jacksonville

When will the NFL publish the Week 18 schedule? Would be nice to have a primetime match up with the Titans to win the division!!

After Week 17.

Tony from Richmond

Credit where it's due, the defense has done enough to win games, and the coaches are making seemingly great half-time adjustments. This team battles for 60 minutes. But why are we still having to come back in all of these games? Why are we still getting off to these slow starts? Why can't our fourth quarter yesterday be our first quarter every week?

The NFL is hard. This is still a young team without Pro Bowl or All-Pro players dotting all areas of the roster. It's not going to start fast, finish strong and blow out every team.

Michael from Fruitport, MI

What kind of ceiling do you see for Trevor Lawrence? He looks incredible lately and it seems to only be scratching the surface of what he could be. Merry Christmas to you and all others!

I think Lawrence can be great. How great? We'll see.

Bruce from St. Simons Island, GA

This team is peaking at the right time and appears to currently be the best team in the AFC South! Injuries are still a concern, however, especially to our lines. Do the Jags have the players necessary to continue to surge?

The Jaguars have a lot of players with "normal" December injuries, with player such as Walker and defensive tackle Foley Fatukasi day-to-day with ankle injuries this week. Left tackle Cam Robinson on Monday became the Jaguars' most significant injury of the season to date Monday when Pederson announced he likely will miss the rest of the season with a knee injury. Robinson becomes the second Jaguars starting offensive lineman lost for the season, with the first being guard Ben Bartch. Tyler Shatley has filled in for Bartch with little-to-no dropoff and Walker Little will replace Robinson in the lineup. Shatley was the "swing" interior offensive lineman and Little was the swing total. "Swing" lineman should be able to fill in for starters without it being a disaster scenario. It gets tougher if more offensive linemen are lost.

Mac from In Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Bavaria

Not a question but wanted to tell how cool it was to be jumping up and down screaming at the TV as Jenkins ran the interception back for a touchdown I actually got a few Duuuuuvals shouted after he scored and had strangers who had only hours before been cheering the World Cup give me high fives! The Power of the Cats goes worldwide.

Very cool.