NFL Week 17 Power Rankings: Trevor Lawrence has surging Jaguars on playoff doorstep; Packers not dead yet – CBSSports.com

Did you ever eat something that was so bad it made your stomach churn, and all you could do is wait to eliminate it from your system?

Now you know how Trevor Lawrence felt all of last season playing for Urban Meyer — a sick, nasty feeling in his stomach that wasn’t fixable until the rot was gone. Now, thanks to coach Doug Pederson, that feeling has gone away for Lawrence, and the results are a quarterback on the verge of being top five at his position next year.

Lawrence has been almost flawless since the beginning of November and has the Jaguars on the verge of doing something nobody saw coming, which is to be a division champion in his second season. Lawrence didn’t do a lot in the rain against the New York Jets last Thursday, but he didn’t have to because the defense shut down the Jets offense in a 16-3 victory. What he did do was take care of the ball after a fumble on his opening possession and use his legs and timely throwing to beat a good Jets defense.

The Jaguars are now one victory away from being the AFC South champions. All they have to do is beat the Titans in the season finale to win the division. Pederson and Lawrence are the reasons that can happen.

The defense played well against the Jets, but it still has issues. The offense, thanks to Lawerence and a talented group of receivers, plus running back Travis Etienne, has the dynamic to score a lot of points.

It’s hard to believe this is the same team we saw go winless in October. But that’s what coaching and quarterback play can do to a team.

A year ago, Lawrence came in as the so-called savior of a moribund franchise, the passer who would give it sustainable success. But instead of flashing future All-Pro potential, he languished under Meyer, who had no idea how to coach professional men and not college rah-rah players.

Meyer’s sophomoric ways led to a tumultuous season, one that included the organization parading out their rookie quarterback for press conferences after games to explain the mess. He was the face, even if he wasn’t truly ready for it, yet he handled it with ease, a tip that he understood all the trappings that come with playing the position.

That’s the kind of season that can derail a player. But Lawrence went to work this year with a real coaching to staff to put it behind him, which he has done. Sure, there was a lull in October that led some to foolishly question if he was the franchise-saving type of quarterback, but that was misguided then and it truly is now.

Lawrence can be the small-market quarterback for Jacksonville like what Patrick Mahomes is to Kansas City, what Josh Allen is to Buffalo and what Joe Burrow is to Cincinnati. Those passers give their teams sustainable success, not just aberrational playoff seasons where the ball bounces your way all year. They are contenders as long as the quarterbacks are healthy.

That’s what Lawrence means to the Jacksonville organization. The Jaguars will be relevant for the next decade.

That in itself is amazing. Relevance and Jaguars are not two words that often get said together. The organization has been a national laughingstock since coming into the league. The Jaguars had some early success, but even then it wasn’t with a home-grown drafted quarterback. They traded for Mark Brunell. They failed drafting others like Byron Leftwich, Blaine Gabbert and Blake Bortles in the first round.

Lawrence is the first truly home-grown player at the position who can change the trajectory of the franchise. One victory over the Titans puts them in the postseason. That’s unreal, considering where they were six weeks ago.

The Jaguars are up to No. 13 in my Power Rankings this week. They play Houston this week and then home against the Titans next week. Even if they don’t get into the playoffs this year, get used to them being in the mix for a long time. Like Mahomes, Allen and Burrow, Lawrence will do that for them.

The cleanse of Meyer’s residue was all it took. Trevor Lawrence is on his way to being a star.

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