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The Jacksonville Jaguars have had one of the best offseasons in franchise history, and so far it’s done quite a bit to positively swing their perception nationally. We’ve chronicled several of the upbeat pieces by national writers over the summer, but most of them were cautiously optimistic and predicted a return to the playoffs in 2015 rather than 2014. Lately however, a couple of national guys have strengthened their stance and just predicted the Jaguars to make the playoffs.
The folks over at NFL.com have been high on the Jaguars for a while, but some of the writers over at SI.com have also started seeing the progress made with head coach Gus Bradley and general manager David Caldwell. Don Banks recently had the Jaguars securing a wild-card spot one of his bold predictions.
"It has been since 2008 for one franchise, and ’07 for the two others. But the state of Florida’s five-year NFL playoff drought will end with a flourish, with both Tampa Bay and Jacksonville rebounding from 4-12 finishes a year ago to earn wild-card berths and reach the postseason for the first time since Jon Gruden and Jack Del Rio were still on the job as head coaches."
Maybe one of the most encouraging signs, at least to me, is the amount of praise being thrown in the direction of the Jaguars by the folks over at Pro Football Focus. In a recent column, Ben Stockwell picked the Jaguars to win the AFC South.
"I’d better stick by my pick from the PFF Predictions piece posted earlier in the week. I admit this is a fairly crazy choice, but I felt the need for an off-the-wall prediction and the AFC South, where the Colts are favorites but not prohibitively so, struck me as the right place for a left-field pick. I like the defensive improvements the Jags have made up front and feel the defense will keep them in enough games that if the offense makes some strides they could very easily be one of this season’s overachievers."
Ben’s not alone either, as Khaled Elsayed also picked the Jaguars to win the division in the PFF 2014 Predictions column. In the same column, 4 of the 8 writers chose Blake Bortles as their offensive rookie of the year, even with Bortles sitting at least the first game of the season.
Predictions don’t mean much in the grand scheme of things, but it’s nice to see more and more people noticing the positive turn of events in Jacksonville.