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O-Zone: Where to go

JACKSONVILLE – Look-ahead Wednesday.

Let's get to it …

Bradley from Sparks, NV

I'm not "all in" on the Jags like some folks, but I do see them playing well this week, getting a "W" and finishing the season strong. They aren't a great team, but what AFC team is? I feel like their odds are as good as anyone else in the parity-ridden AFC. Am I missing a team that is significantly better?

The Jaguars play the Baltimore Ravens at EverBank Stadium Sunday night. I mention this in this answer because the Ravens at 10-3 have been the best, most-consistent team in the AFC this season. They are well-coached with a front-line defense – and they are very strong at quarterback with a strong running game. They also have an experienced core of veteran players who know their identity as a franchise. If I had to predict today, I would predict the Ravens go to the Super Bowl from the AFC. The AFC beyond them indeed does feel parity-ridden – with teams such as the Jaguars, Miami Dolphins, Kansas City Chiefs and Cleveland Browns all perhaps a smidge ahead of teams such as the Denver Broncos, Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals, Pittsburgh Steelers, Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts. That's parity. How accurate is that assessment? How strong is a strong Baltimore team? I guess we will get a good idea Sunday.

Brian from ROUND ROCK, TX

Having a successful offense when you have the quarterback shouldn't be this hard. We even have weapons for him. What are we missing All Insightful O-Zone? This offense seems like it's so overdesigned the players can't execute it. How about we play some football and kick some but?

The thought here is the biggest thing this offense is missing is the ability to run consistently. That has hurt the Jaguars' ability to convert short-yardage situations. It also has caused them to throw in too many negative down-and-distance situations, which in turn greatly helps the opposing team's pass rush.

Glenn from Tampa, FL

Yep, this team is not good. Again. Sigh. John, this is getting old my friend.

The Jaguars aren't bad. They lead the AFC South by a game with tiebreaker advantages over the two second-place teams. They have lost to good, contending teams the last two weeks – albeit two contending teams with reserve quarterbacks. I've thought all season this was a good team capable of winning the division and winning 11-to-12 games. They have shown they're pretty much that good. They haven't really shown they're better than that. Stay tuned.

Andrew from Halifax

If I recall, the Jags had a fairly substantial "must-win" against a strong Ravens team last year around this time.

The Jaguars beat the Ravens last November in what at the time was a very important game for what was then a struggling Jaguars team. The Ravens entered that game as one of the NFL's hottest teams with a four-game winning streak.

Bill from Hammock, FL

Zone, tough losses the last two weeks. Losing to back up quarterbacks makes it feel worse. I think we are simply not one of the best teams in the league. We are a good team capable of beating any team but equally capable of losing to any team. We are in an excellent position to win our division and have a home game. Finishing strong is mandatory and there are NO easy games in the NFL. Go Jags! We are still in a very good position to win our division and have a home game. Once in anything can happen.

I agree that the Jaguars are not one of the two or three best teams in the NFL. I have thought since last offseason they would win 11 or 12 games and that still feels right. I think they're somewhere around the fifth-to-12th or so best teams in the NFL, and I think that's a remarkable step from where they were in 2021. I thought for much of the season the Jaguars had a chance to improve late in the season and ascend enough to compete with those top three or four teams. This often happens, and Super Bowl champions are often teams that peak that way late in the season. That seems more difficult now because of some significant injuries. But the season's not over yet. The Jaguars are in a position to control their fate. Stay tuned.

Bob from Sumter, SC

Buffalo was great then they stunk then they beat Kansas City at Kansas City. The Detroit Lions lost to the Chicago Bears who couldn't beat an egg a few weeks ago. Crazy. The Jags can still finish with double digit wins and a divisional title. Sure beats talking about next year's draft in December.

Good eye.

Jason from North Pole, AK

The injuries are piling up in a big way. Any chance we get some guys back this week against Baltimore? Particularly on defense?

It seems there's a decent chance left tackle Walker Little and tight end Brenton Strange will return this week. We should get a better idea about other players as the week continues.

Jeff from Orange, CA

What is the O-Line's outlook for next week and what is a reasonable expectation for who might be healthy come playoff time? Whether or not our defense can recover some doesn't seem like it will matter if we have such a banged up O-line.

It sounds as if there's a good chance Little will return and it sounds as if Ezra Cleveland – who started at left tackle in place of Little Sunday – will be day-to-day. My understanding is Cam Robinson, normally the starting left tackle – could return for or before the postseason.

Daniel from St Johns, F:

The Oline has struggled all year and the injuries are making it worse. It sure doesn't help when the line changes almost every game.

No, it does not.

Jim from Eugene

I don't get ALL the anger from fans. Disappointment? Sure. Maybe it's dropping two in a row that's melting them down. On a positive note or two, we're still in first place and the offense put 27 points up on a team that has been allowing 10 points on average at home, despite turning the ball over four times. Can't we glean some sort of happiness considering where our offense was just two short years ago or have we just forgotten about all that?

Fans aren't happy after losses – and they shouldn't be happy after losses. You're right that there were positives to be found in the loss to the Browns. This was a tougher matchup than some Jaguars fans seem to realize, with the Browns being a very good defensive team and the Browns being very good at home. The Jaguars were beat up, including quarterback Trevor Lawrence playing on a high-ankle sprain, and the Jaguars compounded a lot of issues by giving the Browns three easy touchdowns and committing four turnovers. In that sense, to have a remote chance to win perhaps was impressive. But the bigger truth is the Jaguars played poorly for a second consecutive game. That pretty much negates any positives in terms of effort and encouraging moments.

Mike from Jax

The single most frustrating thing for me is that the team is just soft. They have no heart, no fire, no "want it more" and the rest of the league knows it. Doubtful they have the guys to get over that character trait. Thoughts?

I think this is what people believe when their favorite team loses.

Wade from Westside

Where do the Jags go from here? If they do manage to earn a playoff spot the team has no shot at the Super Bowl. This team has demonstrated some pretty big holes on both sides of the ball and not sure how they can address them while resigning some of their players to big contracts. Trevor is a good QB that may have been unfairly tagged as a generational quarterback. Yes, he is a franchise quarterback, but he has not met the measure of a generational quarterback and that is okay - if he can stay a top 15 quarterback we can still win with that.

The Jaguars are 8-5 and lead the AFC South by a game. They are not in free fall. They do not suck. They have the third-best record in the AFC and they haven't lost to a team under .500 this season. They lost their last two games by a combined seven points. Where do they go from here? They try to win three of their four remaining games and win a second consecutive AFC South title. Then they try to win as many postseason games as possible. After that, they will reassess the roster. They will try to fill some holes. Some of this will come from within the team with young, developing players and some may come through unrestricted free agency. This is what contending is. All teams go through it.