JACKSONVILLE -- Senior writer John Oehser examines what we learned from the Jaguars' 15-10 loss to the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tennessee, Sunday
1.The Jaguars will play host to the Buffalo Bills in an AFC Wild Card Playoff game.This became official shortly after the loss to Tennessee became official Sunday. When players were speaking to the media in the postgame locker room, most assumed the opponent at EverBank Field on Wild Card Weekend would be the Titans. Then, Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton's 49-yard touchdown to Tyler Boyd with :44 remaining gave Cincinnati a 31-27 victory at Baltimore. That knocked the Ravens from the playoffs and sent the Titans to Kansas City – and the Bills to the 'Bank. A wild, wacky finale.
2.The Wild Card game will be Sunday at 1:05 p.m.It will be the first playoff game at EverBank Field since January 23, 2000. Over 69,000 people are expected. The game sold out in minutes last week. So did standing-room only tickets. After waiting nearly two decades, this could be chaos.
3.The Jaguars are 2017 AFC South Champions.This seems to have been forgotten by some observers. It also seems to have been forgotten by some in Tennessee. The Jaguars finished 10-6; the Titans finished 9-7. The Jaguars won the South. Period.
4.The season's not over.This seems to be getting lost, too. No, the Jaguars aren't going into the postseason with "momentum." But this team is playing a postseason game at home Sunday. It will enter the playoffs as the NFL's sixth-ranked offense and second-ranked defense. It finished second in the NFL in sacks and set a franchise record with seven defensive touchdowns. No, the season's not over. In a sense, it's just beginning.
5.The running game must improve …The Jaguars have led the NFL in rushing much of the season, but the reality is this team has struggled to run when it has wanted and needed to run. It couldn't do it enough Sunday and it did it only occasionally in the season's final month. This will be a major storyline this week.
6…. and the Jaguars need Cam Robinson healthy.The Jaguars felt the absence of rookie left tackle Cam Robinson in a big way Sunday. Quarterback Blake Bortles was under too much pressure, and a lot of it seemed to come from the left side.
7.Robinson and nose tackle Abry Jones could return Sunday.Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone said after Sunday's game Robinson (abdomen) and defensive tackle Abry Jones (back) both were trending up over the weekend. He also said there is hope that wide receiver Marqise Lee can play Sunday after missing the last two games with an ankle injury.
8.The Jaguars need Lee.Lee hasn't had a perfect season and has had some costly drops, but the Jaguars have missed his athleticism and clutch third-down receiving in his absence.
9.The young receivers are struggling I.Times change fast in the NFL. In early December, the Jaguars' receiving trio of Jaydon Mickens, Dede Westbrook and Keelan Cole was playing well enough that people wondered if the team would miss veterans such as Lee and Allen Hurns. Westbrook struggled mightily Sunday, dropping a sure second-half touchdown pass and short-arming a long reception in the first half.
10.The young receivers are struggling II.Cole had a second consecutive rough game, too. After being involved with two miscommunications that led to interceptions in a loss to San Francisco last week, he lost a fumble late in the first half that led directly to a Tennessee field goal.
11.The young receivers are struggling III.Mickens twice has been the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week this season. His struggles Sunday cost the Jaguars big-time. Not only did he have a muffed punt/lost fumble and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the same play in the first half, he muffed another punt that forced the Jaguars to start from their own 5 in the second half. This offense can't afford to give away yards and points at that rate.
12.The defense has heart ...Sunday's game should have been far more one-sided. The defense held the Titans to field goals on multiple short fields and Yannick Ngakoue's 67-yard fumble return in the second half was the Jaguars' only touchdown of the game. The Jaguars' defense gave its all Sunday and it deserved a better outcome.
13…. and it can score.Ngakoue's touchdown marked the seventh defensive touchdown of the season. That's a franchise record.
14.The defense is back to being the Jaguars' defense.This unit struggled in San Francisco, but it was impressive Sunday. The Jaguars allowed 232 yards and 11 first downs. Outside of a 66-yard screen pass from Marcus Mariota to Derrick Henry that resulted in the Titans' lone touchdown, the Tennessee offense did little. Defense is the core of this team. The unit is playing well entering the postseason.
15.There will be playoff football at EverBank Field.Are you ready?