JACKSONVILLE – We arrive now at yet another Wednesday.
This time, we arrive refreshed, rested and ready to move forward after the 2015 bye week – a week that came after a 34-31 Jaguars victory over the Buffalo Bills at Wembley Stadium in London.
That victory snapped the Jaguars' four-game losing streak, sending them into the bye with a touch of confidence and keeping them within range of the AFC South-leading Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans. The division leaders are 3-5 and the Jaguars are 2-5.
The Jets enter Sunday on a two-game losing streak, losing in Oakland 34-20 Sunday with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick leaving early with a thumb injury. Fitzpatrick is considered day-to-day, as is backup Geno Smith after sustaining shoulder/abdomen injuries late against Oakland.
The game is big for both teams, with the 4-3 Jets seemingly playing for wild-card position with unbeaten New England leading the AFC East at 7-0 and the Jaguars suddenly and fortuitously in division title contention.
Six questions as the Jaguars begin preparations for the Jets:
1)Can Blake Bortles play a complete game?He's improving. He has a knack for playing well late in games, but he has thrown eight interceptions this season, including a pick-six in each of the last two games. Bortles is unquestionably the leader of this team, and his teammates believe in him. The next step is reducing the inconsistent spurts and frustrating errors – i.e., the young quarterback stuff.
2)Who will play quarterback for the Jets?This question likely will linger. Fitzpatrick reportedly will need surgery on his injured left thumb at some point, but his status for Sunday is unknown. Smith's status also is unknown. For now, the Jaguars must prepare for both.
3)What will Revis do?Jets cornerback* *Darrelle Revis often shadows the opponent's best receiver one-on-one all over the field. He's also good enough to often dramatically reduce that player's effectiveness. It's fair to assume Revis will cover Allen Robinson. That's not likely to be known before Sunday, but it will be a storyline.
4)Can the Jaguars go back-to-back?The Jaguars haven't won back-to-back regular-season games since a three-game winning streak in November/December 2013. The Jaguars beat Buffalo before the bye by driving for a touchdown and holding the Bills on downs in the final minutes. That was one of the team's best closeout moments under Head Coach Gus Bradley. Will they learn from that and close more games? Stay tuned.
5)Can the Jaguars run on the Jets?The Jets were the NFL's best run defense early in the season but allowed the Raiders 118 yards Sunday. The Jaguars spent the early part of the season looking for consistency in the running game, and rookie T.J. Yeldon rushed for a career-high 115 yards against the Bills. This will undoubtedly be Yeldon and the rushing offense's biggest test of the season.
6)Can the Jaguars stay in this thing?Yes, the Jaguars are 2-5, but they trail the AFC South by just a half game and have been competitive in the fourth quarter in six of seven games. The schedule the next five weeks on paper doesn't seem overwhelming. Can they stay competitive and close enough games to keep pace in a struggling division? Stay tuned, but this could get interesting.