It's hard to find a story better than the one that has unfolded in Jacksonville this season. Following a nightmarish 2021 season, the Jaguars enjoyed a meteoric rise this season that included an AFC South division title. Jacksonville won the South after dispatching the Titans last Saturday night while strengthening Doug Peterson's budding Coach of the Year case.
The Jaguars are looking to mimic last Saturday night's success this Saturday night against the Chargers in the wild card round of the AFC playoffs. The Chargers present a formidable challenge, but the Jaguars have the talent to pull off the upset while running their winning streak to six games.
Here are three reasons why the Jaguars' remarkable run will continue beyond wild card weekend.
Similar to Josh Allen, Lawrence enjoyed a dramatic boost in play from his rookie and sophomore seasons. A year after leading the NFL in interceptions, Lawrence threw just eight interceptions during the regular season. He also saw a dramatic boost in his completion percentage while throwing more than twice as many touchdown passes than he did as a rookie.
Lawrence has seldom made mistakes during the Jaguars' winning streak. But he has also made plenty of clutch plays during that span. His most impressive game may have been in Dallas on Dec. 18. Facing one of the NFL's best defenses, Lawrence threw for 318 yards and four touchdowns in a 40-34 victory.
The Chargers' defense presents a challenge for Lawrence, but the former No. 1 pick won't be tasked with beating Los Angeles by himself. Along with having formidable skill positions at his disposal (more on that in a second), Lawrence is aided by an offensive line that allowed just four sacks during the team's current winning streak.
Jaguars' skill players
One of the league's most underrated units, the Jaguars' skill position players played a key role in both Lawrence's and the Jaguars' recent run of success.
Essentially a rookie, running back Travis Etienne enjoyed a standout season that saw him amass over 1,400 all-purpose yards. Etienne is surely motivated to play well on Saturday night after the Jaguars ran for a putrid 19 yards in last week's win over the Titans.
Speaking of motivated players, Christian Kirk was undoubtedly motivated to prove that he was worth his massive contract. Kirk has proven to be money well spent as he led the Jaguars in receptions, receiving yards and touchdown catches.
Kirk is the leader of a solid receiving corps that also includes Zay Jones and Marvin Jones, who caught a combined 128 passes and eight touchdowns during the regular season. Tight end Evan Engram, formerly a Pro Bowler with the Giants, returned to Pro Bowl form this season after setting career highs with 73 catches and 766 yards.
The Chargers defense, led by Joey Bosa, Khalil Mack and Derwin James, is a talented group that won't make things easy for the Jaguars. But Jacksonville's depth at the skill positions will create their own problems for the Chargers, especially if the Jaguars avoid turnovers and becoming one dimensional.
They may not be an elite group, but the Jaguars' defense is a solid unit with talented players at each level. The Jaguars have a tough defensive line that is capable of stopping the run while also putting pressure on the quarterback. Behind them is a highly-productive linebacker corps that features one of the top young defensive players in the league is Josh Allen.
Second year defensive backs Andre Cisco and Tyson Campbell are two of four Jaguars players who had three interceptions during the regular season. Free safety Rayshawn Jenkins, who spent his four four NFL seasons with the Chargers, filled the stat sheet this season with three picks (including one returned for a touchdown), three forced fumbles, 12 passes defensed and 116 tackles.
The Jaguars' defense faces the daunting task of trying to contain a Chargers offense that features some of the league's best skill players. But Jacksonville has the talent to slow Justin Herbert and Co., especially if Allen the Jaguars' front seven are able to apply consistent pressure on the Chargers' quarterback.