Dave Choate: I've heard several nerds say that Blake Bortles is just no good. How not not good is he, and how much has he improved this year?
Ryan Day: Here's the thing about Blake Bortles: He is actually good.
Whether you want to look at it with a results-based approach (he's gonna hit 35 touchdowns and 4,000 yards this year) or a process-based approach (he's making far more good throws and making more good decisions than he is making bad throws or making bad decisions) the conclusion is the same: Blake Bortles is a top-12 quarterback in the league.
And the strides he's made since this point last year are astounding. The Jaguars and offensive coordinator Greg Olson are putting the team on his back and Bortles is doing pretty well with it. He's thrown a touchdown in every game this season, he's one of the most efficient passers within 10 yards of the red zone (12 touchdowns, one interception), and he's doing it all with a subpar offensive line and a rookie running back.
Dave Choate: t sounds like T.J. Yeldon will be out Sunday. What can we expect from the Jaguars' offense if he's gone, especially on the ground?
Ryan Day: Honestly, it's going to look very similar. What Denard Robinson lacks in strength, he makes up for in burst and speed. He's another player who has improved greatly this year -- making good decisions in the backfield and hitting open running lanes with more confidence. Jonas Gray was just signed off the Miami Dolphins practice squad, so he'll (hopefully) be the change-of-pace bruiser they were hoping Toby Gerhart could be.
But unless one of Blake Bortles, Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns, or Julius Thomas is injured, it's the same offense.
Dave Choate: The Falcons' offense has been pretty dismal for several weeks now, so it might not matter how good Jacksonville's defense is. If the Falcons manage to pull together, though, who is worth fearing, and where is the unit weak?
Ryan Day: The Jaguars secondary has been the highest variance position group on the team. They've single-handedly kept us in games and they've also blown huge opportunities for us this year. I imagine Davon House will have a decent game against Julio Jones and I'm hoping undrafted free agent Nick Marshall will continue his progression.
If Paul Posluszny comes back from a broken hand this week, the middle of the line will be stout against run defense, but intermediate passes in the middle of the field will be open.
Our weakest position group is probably a tie between our LEOs and safeties. You'll have the time for receivers to go deep because Andre Branch and Chris Clemons are awful, and you'll have the matchup you want because Sergio Brown and Johnathan Cyprien are worse.
Dave Choate: I assume Gus Bradley's going to survive this season with the team's recent resurgence. Is he the long-term coach for you guys, and what does he need to do in 2016?
Ryan Day: I don't know. The Jaguars have probably broken every rule in the book keeping Gus Bradley this long and we might host a playoff game in January, so I'm done trying to figure out how conventional wisdom plays into the Jaguars this year. I don't think Bradley is the long-term answer, but the team could be turning a corner.
I think these last three games will be huge for Bradley's campaign to stay in Jacksonville. If they win out and finish the year with four straight wins to go 8-8 (and 5-3 at home!) then he'll be fine next year. If they lose one or two, I think he'll be on a short leash in 2016. The London game comes early, so if they go 6-10, he could be watched closely leading up to that and if he disappoints in 2016, Bradley could be fired after London.
Dave Choate: Your game prediction and thoughts on whether you'll win the AFC South, if you would.
Ryan Day: I think it'll be a high-scoring game. Not like the Jaguars-Titans game, but then which two teams could match those two offensive powerhouses? Put me down for a 34-23 victory for Jacksonville.
As far as the AFC South goes, I said before the game against the Ravens that if we won that game, we'd make the playoffs. I'm sticking with that. I think we win out and I think we take the AFC South at 8-8.