Will the Jacksonville Jaguars find it difficult to stay in the ranks of the elite in 2018?
The Jacksonville Jaguars had their most successful season in over a decade in 2017. The team captured its first ever AFC South division title, played and won a home playoff game for the first time since 2000, and advanced all the way to the conference championship game.
With the roster from last season still almost fully intact, along with new additions in both free agency and the draft, the consensus has been that the Jaguars are built to continue to contend for a championship again next season. But that sentiment is not shared by everyone.
ESPN.com’s Football Power Index, a rating system used by the site to predict the strength of each NFL team, has projected the rankings for the 2018 season and has the Jacksonville Jaguars as the 14th ranked team in the league.
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Jacksonville is behind some teams you would expect, like the Super Bowl participants New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles. But the Jaguars are also ranked lower than SEVEN other playoff teams from 2017, including a Pittsburgh team that was beaten not once, but twice at home last season by Jacksonville. The FPI also has the team below four teams who didn’t even reach the playoffs, like the Chargers and Cowboys.
Among other factors, the rating system gauges how well both offensive and defensive units performed last season, as well as returning players for next season. Considering the elite defense and number one ranked rushing attack the Jaguars are returning, I can’t fathom how the team would check in that low on any ranking.
Along with being placed in the middle tier of teams, the Jaguars were projected to have a 50 percent chance to make the playoffs for a second straight year, and just a 35 percent chance to repeat as division champs. Those division odds feel way too low.
With high expectations, maintaining success won’t be an easy feat for the team in 2018. But the Jacksonville Jaguars are not worse than thirteen other teams in the league.