Jaguars Clinch Playoff Berth for 1st Time Since 2007 with Win over Texans

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistDecember 17, 2017

JACKSONVILLE, FL - DECEMBER 03:  Leonard Fournette #27 of the Jacksonville Jaguars runs with the football in the second half of their game against the Indianapolis Colts at EverBank Field on December 3, 2017 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Logan Bowles/Getty Images)
Logan Bowles/Getty Images

The Jacksonville Jaguars ended a 10-year playoff drought Sunday by beating the Houston Texans 45-7 to clinch the AFC South title.

In addition to having a winning record this season for the first time since 2007, the team is going for its first AFC South crown in franchise history.

The last time Jacksonville won a division title was when it went 14-2 in 1999 to take the AFC Central.

There is also confidence in the team's ability to make a run this postseason:

After finishing 3-13 last season, the Jaguars finally made sizable gains in 2017 after picking high in the NFL draft for several years in a row.

The most notable improvements came on the defensive side of the ball, as Jacksonville entered the week ranked No. 2 in total defense, No. 1 in points allowed and No. 1 in sacks.

Along with the continued development of young defensive players such as cornerback Jalen Ramsey, linebacker Myles Jack and defensive end Dante Fowler Jr., the signing of defensive lineman Calais Campbell and cornerback A.J. Bouye in free agency helped the Jags reach the next level.

Additionally, Jacksonville became more conservative on offense and embraced the power running game, which helped in terms of limiting mistakes.

The Jaguars selected running back Leonard Fournette with the No. 4 overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft out of LSU, and he has been the centerpiece of the offense when healthy with 923 rushing yards and eight touchdowns in 11 games.

Fournette's arrival has taken some pressure off quarterback Blake Bortles and allowed him to focus on protecting the football.

After throwing 16 or more interceptions in each of his first three NFL seasons, Bortles has limited that number to eight this season to go along with 3,147 passing yards and 19 touchdowns. Riley McAtee of The Ringer noted how well he has played as of late:

Jacksonville may be hard-pressed to hang with the AFC's elite teams such as the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers in the playoffs when it comes to putting up points offensively.

The Jaguars arguably have the NFL's best defense, however, and if they can replicate what the Denver Broncos did in 2015, they have a chance to make a deep run.

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