Jaguars Only Florida NFL Team of Three To Advance to Divisional

Diego J. Ortiz, Sports Reporter

All hope isn’t lost for football fans in the Sunshine State. After a week of celebration, with all three NFL teams making the playoffs for the first time since 1999, the Jacksonville Jaguars were the only ones to advance. While it was a great season for the other two, they couldn’t quite get it done. 

Monday Night Football led to a great disappointment as legendary quarterback Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost to the Dallas Cowboys, 31 to 14. While having the worst record of the three, Brady and the Bucs managed to defeat their division rival, the Carolina Panthers, clinching a spot in the playoffs. This win gave the Bucs their second straight division title. 

However, in the last game of the season the Bucs lost to the Atlanta Falcons giving Tom Brady his first losing record in a season at 8-9. With a guaranteed playoff spot, backup players like former Florida Gator, Kyle Trask, were given the opportunity to play.

 

Football with Buccaneer team logo and Championship displayed.

Without TE Rob Gronkowski, the team’s offense fell short compared to last year’s offensive line, getting dismantled by the Cowboys in the Wild Card round. Questions will start as to whether Tom Brady will return to Tampa Bay, or even the game of football. 

The Miami Dolphins have also had a rollercoaster of a season, winning their first three games, then losing three, to winning five, to then losing five more. The roller coaster came to a stop on Sunday when the Dolphins were knocked out of the playoffs, losing to the Buffalo Bills, 31 to 34. 

QB Tua Tagovailoa had multiple concussions in the season, ruining the team’s chances to secure the wild card game.The Dolphins have struggled all season long with injuries to their core players. Led by coach Mike McDaniel, the Dolphins pulled a huge win over the New York Jets to secure a spot in week 17, finishing 9-8 in the season. ESPN reports that Tua is expected to make a full recovery and be ready to return next season. 

Now, all bets are on the Jacksonville Jaguars. Arguably the most surprising team in the league, the Jaguars started the season with a 2-6 record. Quarterback Trevor Lawrence has improved in recent weeks, only throwing 2 interceptions in the last 9 games. Compared to last season, the Jags have found their identity under Coach Doug Pederson. Jags finished 9-8 as the AFC South champions against the Chargers on Saturday Night Football. The game was close, as Jacksonville completed a twenty-seven point comeback, winning by just one point, 31 to 30. They advance and take on Kansas City in the divisional round on Saturday, January 21. 

In a press conference ahead of the big game, Coach Pederson said “It’s postseason football, everything matters.” 

Things were very different in 1999. All three Florida teams were legitimate contenders, with Jacksonville and Tampa Bay making it to the championship game of their respective conferences. That year is also the closest we’ve been to witnessing a matchup between Florida teams in the Super Bowl. Jacksonville has yet to win  a Super Bowl, while Miami hasn’t won since 1973. Tampa Bay have won twice with their most recent Super Bowl win in 2021. Who do you think is winning this year? Can the Jaguars pull it off?