JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Are the Jaguars the best team in the NFL right now? That depends on whom you ask, but they’re a consensus Top 2 team, according to the latest national rankings.
Jacksonville (2-0) looked like a force to be reckoned with in Sunday's decisive 31-20 victory over the Patriots – and that is very much reflected in the grades given by pundits.
To briefly recap the game: The Jaguars’ stingy defense limited Tom Brady to 234 yards and two touchdowns in the air before a sellout crowd at TIAA Bank Field. Brady was sacked twice, including a strip-sack by Dante Fowler.
Blake Bortles, meanwhile, played like the franchise player the Jaguars envisioned when he was selected third overall in 2014. And that was without star running back Leonard Fournette, who was sidelined with an injury.
Here’s how the Jaguars were graded by ESPN, NFL.com and USA Today:
- ESPN rank: No. 2. Why? “The Jaguars knocked off the defending AFC champion Patriots at home, and they now have won six straight games in Jacksonville by an average of 15.7 points per game. That is their longest home win streak since winning six straight in 2005-06, and they get to host the Titans in Week 3.”
- NFL.com rank: No. 2. Why? "The Jags authored a freaking statement in Florida on Sunday. Jacksonville dominated the first half against the Patriots, then suffocated Tom Brady and the offense when it had to, i.e., when Blake Bortles -- who was otherwise quite effective -- pulled a Bortles with an ill-timed turnover. Following Bortles' interception early in the fourth quarter, New England was threatening to claw within one score -- but then the AFC's deepest defensive group showed up. Dante Fowler Jr., who missed his entire rookie season with a knee injury and who is often viewed as an afterthought among his uber-talented teammates, tore around the edge, pulling off the pass rusher's hat trick: the sack, the strip and the recovery. People had better start giving Doug Marrone the same kinds of props the Sean McVays of the world get.
- USA Today rank: No. 1. Why? “Took NFL royalty to the woodshed — their 11-point defeat of New England wasn't really that close — without injured Leonard Fournette's help.”