The Jacksonville Jaguars could be more than a few years away from competing for a title, but they could well end up competitive in the AFC South, according to Football Outsiders’ early projections.
Projecting final records this far out from the 2017 season is a foolhardy exercise. Without even the 2017 NFL Draft to guide the exercise, it is unlikely that efforts like Football Outsiders’ early projections will be close to reality.
But it is the offseason and the Jacksonville Jaguars, hot off a 3-13 season, need some extra love. Football Outsiders gives it.
In the aforementioned article, the Jaguars are predicted to end up atop the AFC South, tied with the projected division-winning Tennessee Titans at 8-8. Here’s how the division is projected to finish:
"Tennessee Titans: 8-8 (8.1 mean wins)"
"Jacksonville Jaguars: 8-8 (7.5 mean wins)"
"Indianapolis Colts: 7-9 (6.6 mean wins)"
"Houston Texans: 6-10 (6.1 mean wins)"
Going from 3-13 to 8-8 would be a huge jump for the Jaguars. The Jags haven’t even sniffed .500 since last hitting that mark in 2010. So, how do the Jaguars get there? According to Football Outsiders’ early projections, it’s on the strength of the defense (emphasis added):
"This will continue to be the worst division in the NFL, but at least Tennessee and Jacksonville seem like teams on the rise. The Titans ranked 15th in our DVOA ratings last season, best in the AFC South, and they’ve made some strong free-agent additions on defense. So has Jacksonville, and the Jaguars project to have a top-10 defense, but there’s no reason to expect the offense to get any better."
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Turning in an 8-8 performance on the strength of the defense would be a very Houston Texans-type thing to do. And, as Jags fans have suffered through the last decade, it would be a welcome change.
Of course, this is all projecting far too early. The offseason program does not truly get underway until April 17 and the offseason is usually filled with plenty of drama. From position battles to injuries, things could still shake up quite a bit.
But for now, it’s nice knowing that some level of national projection has the Jags getting significantly better.