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O-Zone: Numero uno

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get to it …

Jordan from Mandarin, FL

The NFL is strange. We struggle against the Titans, but I think we’ll strive against the Chiefs. I think we win on Sunday.

I suppose the NFL does seems strange to some. But it may help to look at it this way: the league is set up to be balanced – and all players in the NFL are professional, and therefore capable of playing at a high level. Supposed “lesser” teams beat supposed superior teams in other professional sports – the NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball – all the time, and people rarely express amazement at that weirdness. As is the case with those other sports, the better teams win a higher percentage over time in the NFL. Because the NFL plays far fewer games, the “upsets” are more noticeable and therefore “weirder.” The thing that skews it, I suppose, is that the best college football teams rarely lose more than one game – because the talent difference between good and average college football teams is infinitely greater than between good and average NFL teams. Here’s perhaps the most important thing to remember about your scenario: The Titans are not a bad team. They won nine games each of the past two seasons; they were one of the final eight teams playing last season. They may not seem dominant. They may not have a plethora of stars. They may not be aesthetically pleasing, but they win. They were 8-4 and very much in the AFC South chase before a three-game losing streak late last season. They’re good. As for your point about Sunday’s game … I agree. I think the Jaguars will win against the Kansas City Chiefs Sunday.

Seamus from Dublin

Why does a safety not count as a turnover for the opposing offense?

Because thems the rules.

Chris from Mandarin, FL

I haven't heard much about the Jets’ receivers burning the Jags’ defensive backs on at least two occasions that should have gone for big gains if not for overthrown balls. Do you see this as an issue against the Chiefs? Do you think Jacksonville's defensive will give up the long touchdown pass?

You didn’t hear much about those plays because they didn’t result in big plays; incomplete passes tend not to get emphasized in the postgame analysis. I do expect the Chiefs to test Jaguars cornerbacks Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye as much as they have been tested this season. I expect them to be ready for deep shots. I imagine the Chiefs will connect on one or two of these, because they tend to try more than most teams. But I expect the Jaguars to make enough plays to counter this.

Marcus from Jacksonville

I agree that elite defense trumps elite offense most of the time, but my concern is our offense. I know you say that they're not bad, they're just inconsistent, but inconsistent means bad … sometimes. If this is an off game for the offense, it might not matter how well the defense handles KC's offense. They have proven that they can move the ball and score points, but they've also proven that holding a team to single digits is not always enough to win. This will be a big game to show the growth of the offense in the consistency department.

This isn’t just a matter of me saying they’re not bad; the Jaguars by any definition are absolutely not bad. They were ranked sixth in the NFL in yards and fifth in points last season. They are 15th in the NFL this season and have twice scored 31 points. That. Is. Not. Bad. If the Jaguars’ offense doesn’t play well Sunday it will be difficult for the Jaguars to win. I don’t think anyone questions that. I don’t know that playing well will prove the Jaguars are consistent. There are a lot of games remaining to prove that. But playing well will mean the Jaguars having a better-than-average chance to win. That’s the focus this week.

Figgymoto from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

O, I’ve noticed a trend in the tone of your responses over the last few weeks. You seem to be irritable and ornery nowadays rather than your normal witty and carefree self. Seems like the football season wears on even our own journalists.

Shut up.

Terry from Chester, VA

Mr. O, Supposed King of All Funk, Two O-Zones ago you said, "This is fun stuff, people!!! Enjoy it!!!” I knew you were serious by the three exclamation points!!! Twice!!! Then you respond to question about Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone's demeanor with "Who said anyone has to be happy all the time?" along with a commercial for Disney World. So, obviously, I'm confused - things of this nature are, well, confusing.

I’m sorry you’re confused – and as you indicated confusion can be … well, confusing. I suppose what we’ve learned here is that happiness is a fickle mistress – one defined differently depending on one’s perspective. Or perhaps it’s true after all that Happiness is a Warm Gun. (Bang, bang, shoot, shoot).

Jason from North Pole, AK

The Jaguars are giving away an average of almost 100 yards in penalties a game. Most of them are really obvious, silly mistakes that I am seeing happen before the flag is thrown. How does Marrone get this fixed? Does he start pulling players for a series when they do things such as Tashaun Gipson's taunting penalty?

Maybe eventually. I don’t think we’re there yet.

Charles from Virginia Beach, VA

I know Fournette is good, but I really like our offense without him for stretches. Will the coaches be able to keep the "high-flying" offense when he comes back? Seems like we can't have him on the field and pass effectively ...

The worry over whether the Jaguars can pass effectively with Fournette on the field is, by definition, what is known as a “good problem.” They absolutely can pass effectively with him in the game. They also are a much more dynamic offense in two-back sets. The Jaguars need Fournette. He helps everything. I think once he’s back you’ll see the Jaguars do more run-pass option out of two-back sets and get more receivers involved more consistently. It may take a while, but I expect this to add a real dimension to the offense when Fournette returns.

Johnny from The ‘Ville

It oft has been said that most NFL games come down to one, two, maybe three plays that ultimately impact the outcome. There's a lot of talk about our top-ranked "D" against their top-ranked "O" and one of your articles made mention as to the difference-maker potentially being our "O" against their 32nd-ranked "D." I see this game coming down to BB5 and our also high-powered offense making a big play or two and leaving it up to The Mullett Defense (business up front and party in the back) closing it out in Arrowhead. What say you, O-man, el capitan?

I think this game will come down to turnovers created by the Jaguars’ defense, and the ability for the Jaguars’ offense to score on the Chiefs’ defense. If the Jaguars can force a turnover or two early – or change field position with a sack/special teams play – I think they can get ahead and stay ahead. That’s because I think the Jaguars’ offense can keep pace with the Chiefs’ offense similar to how they kept pace to stay ahead of the Steelers in the AFC Divisional Playoff last January.

Ruben from Jacksonville

I think the thing being missed about the officiating isn't that there is a bias against the Jaguars; it’s that there is an indifference towards the Jags and as a fan base. We view that as disrespect. They call everything under the sun for the New England Patriots because a no-call against them makes the news, and it leads to curious calls that probably shouldn't have been made (i.e., Myles Jack wasn't down). No one cares about missed calls in Jacksonville; there doesn't seem to be a pressing need to get it right with us as there is with other teams. We rarely get pass interference calls, which is a big one. I feel we don't get calls for, but they seem to know how to call it against us. Feels like there's no pressure for the refs to call it right in Jags games.

Officials absolutely miss calls that would benefit the Jaguars. This is true. What’s equally true is that fans of every team believe they don’t get calls for, and that the officials only know how to call it against their team. As for pressure to get calls right, it’s there for every official in every game. I’m not saying they get it right in every game. I’m not saying the officials are always good. There were calls not made on Sunday that should have been called, but there’s just not a bias. Sorry.

Eli from Orlando, FL and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Hi, Zone! Much like Earl Thomas thinks the Seahawks are No. 1, I, too, think you are No. 1 my good sir!

I get this a lot.

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