Jacksonville Jaguars (4-3)
Jacksonville headed into its bye after a trouncing of the Indianapolis Colts that highlighted the new Jaguars that have been taking the division by storm. Whereas before Blake Bortles was counted on to air it out and inevitably let his team down, Tom Coughlin and Doug Marrone realize that Bortles is far more effective when limited to a game manager role and dependent on a fantastic defense with two DPOY candidates in Calais Campbell and Jalen Ramsey and a running game led by Leonard Fournette, who some have likened to a Bo Jackson reincarnate. When a game goes their way, they look unbeatable. Fournette will steamroll the opposition while the defense completely shuts down the other team’s offense. However, this Jaguars team also turns in awful performances where nothing seems to function.
However, the Jaguars made an effort to pursue performances of the former type rather than the latter by reaching out to the Buffalo Bills to trade for DT Marcell Dareus. Dareus is a former First-Team All-Pro whose play has fallen off since Rex Ryan left the team. Dareus has expressed distaste at Buffalo’s losing ways over the past two years after the Bills had a 9-7 year in 2014 and regressed quickly to average. Jacksonville had one glaring weakness outside of Blake Bortles heading into their bye, which was a poor track record against opposing rushing attacks. Dareus will improve the team in this respect for the low cost of a sixth round pick, and he has the upside of an elite franchise cornerstone at DT, as he has proved in the past. Next week, Jacksonville will face a Cincinnati Bengals team that has turned in a couple good performances after an abysmal start, but if the Jaguars continue the pace they set prior to their bye, the game won’t even be close.