Inside Slant

The Sports Xchange

November 22, 2018 at 1:34 am.

Simply winning a game main goal for Jaguars

The Jacksonville Jaguars are entering the portion of the schedule in which many perceived would be a stretch drive where the team would pad their winning record with at least four, likely five and possibly six wins in their final six games of the 2018 regular season. On paper, it certainly looked to be a lot easier haul than the first 10 games. But alas, gasp, shock – the Jaguars instead are fighting for their playoff lives, knowing that one slip in the final six games will almost certainly doom any chance they have of joining five other AFC teams as playoff participants.

The record of the 10 teams that Jacksonville has played thus far supports that thinking. Four of those teams have winning records, three are currently breaking even and three are under .500 including the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles who are going through their own year of frustration. The other two non-losing teams, the two New York squads, are two of the Jaguars’ victories. The third – and certainly most surprising – is New England.

Of the seven teams that have beaten Jacksonville, only the Eagles at 4-6 show a non-winning mark. Those seven teams have combined for a 42-27-1 record. Add in the 13-17 mark of the three teams Jacksonville has beaten and the 10-team record is 55-44-1.

But looking at the remaining six games, only two teams – Houston (7-3) and Washington (6-4) have winning marks. The six teams have combined for a 31-29 mark thus far. And with Washington having lost its starting quarterback, it would have raised hopes even further that the Jaguars could finish strong with either five or six wins down the stretch.

Unfortunately, that was preseason thinking. Today, with reality setting in, most would predict the best that the Jaguars will do is break even with three wins against Washington, Miami and Buffalo and three more losses to its three divisional rivals. Such a possibility of the latter happening would be a total embarrassment to the Jaguars who would finish winless in their own division, a division that nearly everyone was picking the Jaguars to defend their 2017 title.

The first half of the current six-game losing streak was ugly with three defeats by a total of 62 points. The last three have been borderline frustration/self-destruction with a 6-point loss to the Eagles, a 3-point defeat to Indianapolis and a 4-point setback to Pittsburgh. One Jaguars touchdown in each of those three games and Jacksonville is sitting at 6-4, in the No. 6 spot in the playoffs and only a game behind the Texans for the AFC South lead. Even if they had only secured two wins in the last three games, they would be tied for the final playoff spot with a host of other 5-5 teams.

But reality says the Jaguars are 3-7 and likely going nowhere at the end of the regular season. Granted they are just two games behind a group of teams sporting 5-5 records and currently tied for the final wild-card spot. Don’t ask Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone about that possibility. He isn’t giving any thought – at least he’s not publicly talking about it – to the chances of still sneaking into the No. 6 spot in the postseason race.

“When you have lost this many games in a row, we are just focused on trying to win one game,” Marrone said. “This game right now. You can’t focus on anything else. We have to do whatever we have to do to go win a game. That is what it comes down to.”

Marrone said he hasn’t paid attention to where the Jaguars rank as far as getting into the playoffs.

“I don’t know. I haven’t looked at that. My focus of motivation is just being a competitor and trying to win – not the motivation of, ‘There is still this, there is still that.’ Like I always say, as long as they keep score, I don’t care if it’s the preseason or not, you play the game to win,” Marrone said.

“I think that’s the way we were all brought up and that is what we need to continue to do outside of all the stuff that I say about being a pro and everything. I take it from a very small step, from when you are young. Now for me, I might be playing stick ball in the back of the schoolyard. I played that just as hard as I’ve ever played any game that I got paid to do. That’s the mentality I think of people that are competitors.”

SERIES HISTORY: 15th regular-season meeting. Bills lead series, 8-6. Buffalo has won three of the last four regular-season meetings to grab the series lead. Jaguars only win in those four games came in London in 2015 by a 34-31 score; it was the team’s first win in the NFL International Series. Jaguars have scored 34 or more points against the Bills in this series, one of just three teams (Tennessee and Houston also) against whom the Jaguars have reached the 34-point mark or better. The most recent meeting between the Jags and Bills came last year in the postseason when Jacksonville prevailed 10-7 in what was the first home playoff game for the Jaguars since 1999. Jacksonville beat Buffalo on Dec. 28, 1996 for its first playoff win ever, en route to a berth in the AFC Championship Game that year.