Jaguars increase playoff hopes behind smothering protection

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — It was presupposed to be a duel between quarterbacks Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson, the highest two picks of the 2021 draft. In the long run, the Jaguars’ protection was the star.

The Jaguars restricted the Jets to 227 yards and compelled two turnovers. Wilson, the No. 2 total decide, could not get the New York Jets offense on observe and was changed within the third quarter by backup Chris Streveler. The Jaguars beat the Jets, 19-3.

The Jaguars’ playoff odds improved to 51% with the win, based on ESPN Analytics.

The Jaguars are surging and — as stunning because it appears — are two video games away from doubtlessly profitable the AFC South and making the playoffs.

That was unthinkable when the Jaguars flew again from London after shedding to the Denver Broncos on Oct. 30. That was their fifth consecutive loss. They’ve misplaced twice since and Thursday night time was their third victory in a row, the primary time they’ve received three in a row since Weeks 13-15 of 2017.

They did it by dominating one of many league’s greatest defenses. The Jets have been permitting 299.1 yards per sport and the Jaguars almost reached that by halftime (251 yards). The Jaguars completed with 368 yards, the second-most yards the Jets have allowed all season. The protection did have some bother when the Jets benched Wilson for Streveler within the second half, however they allowed simply 66 yards within the first half after getting into the sport averaging 200 yards allowed within the first half, the third most within the NFL.

The Jaguars (7-8) now path the Tennessee Titans (7-7) by a half sport and will take over the division lead if the Titans lose at residence to the Houston Texans on Saturday. The Titans have misplaced 4 video games in a row and play the Dallas Cowboys in Week 17.

The Jaguars and Titans finish the common season in Jacksonville in a sport that might be for the division title and a playoff berth.

Promising development: Tight finish Evan Engram had a breakout efficiency two video games in the past in opposition to Tennessee with 11 catches for 162 yards and two TDs and he has been a serious a part of the offense since. He had seven catches for 113 in opposition to the Jets and now has 68 catches this season, which is a single-season franchise file for a decent finish. Twenty-six of his catches and 337 of his 723 yards have come within the final three video games. The Jaguars are getting him the ball with quick, fast passes and letting him run after the catch. Engram had 95 yards after the catch in opposition to the Jets and now has 444 yards after the catch this season.

Pivotal play: The Jets had an opportunity to get some early momentum after recovering Lawrence’s fumble on the Jaguars’ 16-yard line, however Jaguars security Andre Cisco sacked Wilson for an 8-yard loss and that pressured the Jets to accept a subject objective. When the Jaguars blitz a security it is often Rayshawn Jenkins so Cisco coming caught the Jets off guard and he was untouched. It was the primary time Cisco has hit a quarterback all season. Though the Jets received factors not giving up a landing was a lift for a protection that gave up 34 factors final week.

Underrated statistic to know: The final time Lawrence performed in wet and windy circumstances like he confronted Thursday night time he turned the ball over 5 occasions, together with shedding 4 fumbles, in a loss at Philadelphia in Week 4. So naturally ball safety was an enormous precedence this week. Issues received off to a shaky begin when Lawrence was sacked and fumbled on the sport’s third play however the Jaguars did not flip the ball over once more (although Travis Etienne almost fumbled later within the first half). The Jaguars are actually 6-2 in video games this season by which they’ve a optimistic and even turnover ratio. — Michael DiRocco

Subsequent sport: at Texans (1 p.m. ET, Jan. 1)

New York Jets

Wilson hit a brand new low Thursday night time. Not solely was he booed off the sector in MetLife Stadium, however he was changed and upstaged by a former practice-squad quarterback in Streveler.

The Jets (7-8) all however ruined their playoff hopes with the loss, however the large story was Wilson’s flameout. It is truthful to surprise if has performed his final sport with the Jets.

In a digital must-win, Wilson performed all the way down to his pre-benching degree, finishing solely 9 of 18 passes for 82 yards and one interception (an extended heave on the finish of the primary half). He wants a re-reset, however it will likely be robust to come back again from this. Determined for a spark, coach Robert Saleh pulled Wilson with 3:31 left within the third quarter, down 16-3. Streveler, elevated from the follow squad earlier than the sport, supplied immediate power as he ran a college-style, zone-read offense. The group roared, as Wilson stood on the sideline, seemingly ready to return. He by no means did. Streveler, a preseason hero, did not put any factors on the board, however his efficiency shined a light-weight on the Jets’ wild quarterback state of affairs.

Fairly merely, the group responded higher to Streveler than to Wilson. It was the identical when Mike White (fractured ribs) was within the lineup. What does that say?

Troubling development: The Jets completed their objective to play significant video games in December, however they’ve misplaced all of them — the primary four-game shedding streak of the Saleh period. They’ve a 6% likelihood of constructing the postseason for the primary time in 12 years, per ESPN Analytics. The season seemed so promising a month in the past, however their hopes have been undermined by the quarterback circus and the lack to generate a lot offense. They’ve scored solely 32 factors within the final three video games, hardly playoff worthy.

Describe the sport in two phrases: Typical Jets. In relation to prime time, they’re good for a no-show. This was their eighth straight prime-time loss, the NFL’s longest energetic streak. They’ve dropped 19 of their final 25, relationship to the Butt Fumble in 2012. When the lights come up, the Jets shrink.

Largest gap within the sport plan: In monsoon-like circumstances, in opposition to a weak entrance seven, offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur leaned too closely on the passing sport within the first half. The Jets ran solely 5 occasions for 4 yards within the first half, placing an excessive amount of on Wilson’s plate. A quarterback’s greatest buddy, particularly a struggling quarterback, is the working sport. It hasn’t been the identical for a month, because the getting old offensive line has misplaced its punch.

Daring prediction for subsequent week: If White is cleared for contact, he’ll return to the lineup in Week 17 in opposition to the Seattle Seahawks. It is a no-brainer, actually. If he is not cleared, does Saleh go together with Wilson? Joe Flacco? Streveler? He has a mini-bye to mull his decisions. — Wealthy Cimini

Underrated statistic to know: Wilson’s deepest completion Thursday was 7 air yards, and he was 0-of-5 with an interception on throws of 10 or extra air yards.

Subsequent sport: at Seahawks (4:05 p.m. ET, Jan. 1)