Jaguars going from worst to first in the AFC South can ‘absolutely happen’

Jacksonville Jaguars mascot Jaxson deVille. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
Jacksonville Jaguars mascot Jaxson deVille. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports /

One of the appeals of the NFL is that teams can go from one of the worst to competing in the playoffs in just one year. The Cincinnati Bengals did it in 2021 and analysts are starting to think that the Jacksonville Jaguars could do the same in 2022. One of the latest is John Breech of CBS Sports, who thinks the Jags can win the AFC South this upcoming season.

Breech recently ranked NFL clubs that will most likely go from worst to first in 2022 and Jacksonville popped up at No. 4, behind the Carolina Panthers, the Denver Broncos, and the Baltimore Ravens. Breech says that it might be silly to think the Jaguars can win the division only one year after having the worst record in the league but he believes it can “absolutely happen if Trevor Lawrence has a big season“.

"Lawrence definitely struggled in 2021, but it feels like 80% of the problem was Urban Meyer and the Jags fixed that part of the problem by firing Meyer last December. New coach Doug Pederson is the perfect guy to take over. Not only is he a former Super Bowl winner but he’s also proven that he knows how to work with young quarterbacks (I mean, the man won his Super Bowl with Carson Wentz and Nick Foles starting games for him)."

Breech also argues that the Jags are in a “winnable division”. He isn’t sure Matt Ryan will pan out with the Indianapolis Colts and adds that he wouldn’t be surprised if the Tennessee Titans take a step back. Similarly, he doesn’t think the Houston Texans will do much in 2022, “the Texans are the Texans”.

The Jaguars are getting favorable reviews ahead of the 2022 season

All things considered, Breech’s assessment of the Jaguars and his general overview of the AFC South is on par with this writer’s and other analysts who think Jacksonville could be better than expected. Dog Kyed of Pro Football Focus also thinks that the Jags could go from worst to first in Doug Pederson’s first year at the helm and Lindsey Ok expects them to seize the division.

Of course, the Colts and the Titans would need to take a step back for the Jags to really have a shot. If Matt Ryan stabilizes the quarterback position in Indy, and Derrick Henry is still his same dominant self, the chances of the Jaguars winning the AFC South will decrease. They would still have a shot but the path to the division crown would be significantly tougher.

But even if the Jaguars don’t win the AFC South, they should be better than they were last year under Urban Meyer, who did more bad than good during his short stint. Seven victories, which is more than they won in each of the last four seasons, seems like the floor but nine is feasible if Trevor Lawrence makes a leap and the Jaguars’ 2022 draft class, along with the free-agency additions, have an immediate impact.

The Jags haven’t been good in a while, so their fanbase is justified to be skeptical. Having said that, they have the pieces in place to put a scare into other teams, and if they do, nobody should be caught off guard.

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