NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Cue the panicking.
That actually could have been written early in the second half Sunday, because no sooner did the Jaguars fall behind in what became a 15-10 loss to the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium did emails begin pouring in to the effect that Sunday's loss guaranteed a loss next week, too.
That would mean a loss for the Jaguars in an AFC Wild Card Playoff game against the Buffalo Bills at EverBank Field Sunday at 1 p.m.
The message here: Stop panicking. Just stop.
We'll without a doubt cover this ad nauseam in the coming days, but Sunday's loss to the Titans – while disappointing and no fun to watch for Jaguars fans – means nothing when it comes to next week's playoff game in Jacksonville.
That's true even though the Jaguars played starters Sunday. And that's true even though fans undoubtedly will worry about the Jaguars' two-game losing streak entering the postseason.
Worry, if you must, but the reality is the Jaguars lost those two games after clinching the AFC South title. They lost Sunday with no playoff positioning at stake.
Teams in the NFL that lose in those situations as often as not return and play fine in the postseason.
Will the Jaguars do that next week? We'll see. But how they played Sunday isn't likely to have much of an effect on it one way or the other.
So, if at all possible, please: Don't panic.
Let's get to it …
Biff from Jacksonville:
It's 12:41 EST and this is the most confident I've been before a Jaguars game this season. Bortles jersey is washed and dried. Big game for 5. I hope the vibe you're getting in Nashville is just as positive.
John: It wasn't.
Michael from Middleburg, FL:
This team is nowhere ready to play in the playoffs. Dede Westbrook acts like he took a bet to take a fall.
John: Westbrook had a really rough day. We'll see about next week next week.
Stover from Sta:
Well, this is bad …
John: This wasn't the much-ballyhooed, oft-waited First Email of the Game, but it was a sentiment that found its way to the inbox quite a bit Sunday. No, this wasn't pretty for a lot of Sunday's game – and I suppose it's to be expected that that's causing a lot of anxiety. People are going to fret a lot about the Jaguars not peaking entering the postseason. The thought here is that regular-season "momentum" means little once the postseason begins, and the thought here absolutely remains what it was all week – that what went on Sunday at Nissan Stadium means next to nothing with regard to next Sunday. The Jaguars will be playing at home with the motivation clear. I expected the Jaguars to struggle and perhaps lose Sunday because teams that have to win to get in the playoffs usually beat teams that have playoff seeding clinched. I do not expect the Jaguars to struggle next week. I expect them to play well and I expect them to win.
Thad from Albuquerque, NM:
It is 1999 all over again. We can't beat the baby blue turds from Tennessee.
John: No, it's not.
Greg from Cleveland, TN:
No way the Jaguars can beat the Titans. Titans are going to be 3-0 versus this over-rated team. next week we will close the bank!!
John: My guess is you'll be surprised how wrong that statement looks early next week, and that's true even with the Jaguars playing the Bills instead of the Titans.
Sid from Sidsonville:
Music City Massacre?
John: Not really.
Jeremy from Newport, RI:
Maybe I just missed it, but I have never before seen someone allowed to challenge that a flag/penalty was missed? So, does that mean we are allowed to challenge all of the missed holding calls, pass interference, etc.? I'm confused.
John: You're referring to a play Sunday near the end of the first half on which Titans Head Coach Mike Mularkey challenged that the Jaguars had 12 players on the field during a punt. The officials missed it, but the Titans coaches correctly saw that at least one Jaguars player running from the field did not reach the sideline before the snap. It's challengeable because it's not a judgment call. The replay official can count the players and clearly determine if there was a penalty, so it's reviewable.
JT from Rosamond, CA:
What the hell was Mickens thinking?!?!
John: That's a good question. Jaydon Mickens had a phenomenally rough game. Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone said afterward he expects Mickens to bounce back. He needs to do just that.
Don from Macclenny:
At this rate it looks like the team is determined to lose to the Titans three times in one year.
John: No, it doesn't.
Jim from Middleburg, FL:
The Jaguars' offensive line will own the line of scrimmage in the second half. Jags win.
John: They did(n't). They did(n't).