With regular season projections rolling out, another analytics-based group has the Jacksonville Jaguars finishing last in the division again.
The Jacksonville Jaguars have had a good offseason but they haven’t received the same level of hype that they did last year. It makes sense given the franchise’s general ineptitude over the last decade, with last year’s spectacular disappointment maybe the low point for the Gus Bradley and David Caldwell era.
Still, in a vacuum the Jaguars look like a pretty solid team and it would be shocking if they didn’t significantly improve their win total in 2017.
ESPN’s Sports Analytics team has put together their initial “Football Power Index” (FPI) for the 2017 season, with the Jaguars coming in at 27 overall. They also released their season projections and they have the Jaguars winning about 7 games. This is a good improvement for the Jaguars after only winning three games last year, but it’s not good enough to get themselves out of the bottom of the division.
"2017 AFC South ProjectionsTEAMWINSLOSSESWIN DIVISIONColts8.57.436.0%Titans8.37.730.6%Texans126.96.36.199%Jaguars188.8.131.52%The AFC South might end up being the NFL’s most competitive division in 2017. All four teams have at least a 10 percent chance of winning the title, and none of FPI’s predicted division winners has a worse chance to win than the Colts at 36 percent. Part of the reason each team has a chance to compete is the relatively easy schedule each team faces (at least based on what we know about these teams three months before the start of the season). FPI has four of the nine easiest schedules in the league belonging to the members of the AFC South."
Every analytics site has their own formulas for building a model, but ESPN’s seems to think this division is up for grabs. They clearly feel good about the Titans with Marcus Mariota coming back and are also giving the Colts plenty of credit for having Andrew Luck. With their algorithm favoring quarterback play, it’s not surprising to see the Jaguars in last place.
It’s encouraging nonetheless, because if Bortles can play at a league average level than those 7 wins could easily turn into 9 or 10.