A lot can change in the offseason in the NFL, and apparently the predictions of analysts are no exception. In late May, Gil Brandt penned an article on the 6 teams with the longest playoff droughts in the NFL and ranked them according to their chances of making the playoffs this year.
Somewhat surprisingly, Brandt placed the Jacksonville Jaguars all the way at the bottom at number 6.
"The Jags have won just six games total over the past two seasons, but one major factor is working in their favor: This organization — from the ownership to the front office and right down to the head coach — is special… Coach Gus Bradley is one of the team’s most valuable assets. Not only does he know his X’s and O’s, but he has a great rapport with his players… Jacksonville’s future as a playoff team depends largely on what happens with Blake Bortles…"
He doesn’t really give any reasons as to why the Jaguars have the worst odds of making the playoffs out of the 6 teams, other than a heavily veiled mention of Bortles being a rookie quarterback. Regardless, my takeaway from the piece is Brandt pretty much doesn’t think the Jaguars will make the playoffs since he thinks Tampa Bay, St. Louis, Buffalo, Cleveland, and Oakland all have better chances of making the postseason. I personally would have put Jacksonville 3rd in that group, but to each their own.
I must have missed some huge roster moves over the last month and a half, because Brandt seems to be singing a different tune in his latest piece talking about the Jaguars’ playoff potential in 2014. Here’s the opening line:
"The Jacksonville Jaguars can make the playoffs this season."
Not exactly going out on a limb there, as any team really could make the playoffs. Still, he does make sure to hedge his bet by stating the obvious:
".. while the Jaguars might still be a year away from truly establishing themselves as no-doubt contenders, one can actually make a plausible argument that they’re capable of winning right now."
He goes on to expound upon why the Jaguars might make the playoffs in 2014, and eventually “predicts” the team could reach 9 or 10 wins – easily the most optimistic prognostication so far by a national analyst.
"… nine or 10 wins will likely suffice. Looking at their schedule this season, it’s not outlandish to think they could reach this total."
Putting the 2 articles together, apparently Brandt thinks all 6 of the teams in his first piece could win 9 or 10 games.
It is a little bit nitpicky, but I’d like to see Brandt have a stronger stance on this kind of stuff. While I appreciate the attention he’s giving the organization and the great work Bradley and Caldwell have done, he’s pretty much just saying anything can happen.
While 9 or 10 wins are a possibility, I see 7 or 8 wins as the ceiling. Blake Bortles will eventually start this season, and I expect him to make plenty of rookie mistakes. The Jaguars will finish the season strong, and take plenty of momentum into 2015 for a playoff push.
– Daniel Lago