Jacksonville Jaguars among least vulnerable NFL division leaders in 2023

Jacksonville Jaguars fans celebrate Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) two point
Jacksonville Jaguars fans celebrate Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) two point / Corey Perrine/Florida Times-Unio / USA

The Jacksonville Jaguars turned heads in 2022 when they beat the Tennessee Titans in the season finale to sneak into the playoffs and later disposed of the Los Angeles Chargers in Super Wild Card Weekend. Now, the Jags find themselves among the hottest clubs in the league and looking to repeat as division champs. While they have a tough road ahead, they seemed to be in a favorable position to pull off the feat.

Cody Benjamin recently ranked all defending division leaders ahead of the 2023 season from most to least vulnerable and placed the Jags at No. 7, noting that they have a firm hold of a weak AFC South.

"Is a team that barely eclipsed .500 really one of the safest bets to repeat as a division champ? This is certainly an endorsement of the Trevor Lawrence-Doug Pederson pairing, which endured gunslinging streaks to come up big down the stretch (and now adds Calvin Ridley to the fold). It's also an indictment of the South, which has both the Colts and Texans hitting the reset button at coach and QB. "

The Houston Texans made several important additions in free agency and had one of the best draft hauls in 2023. However, they still have many roster holes and might need another offseason to fill them all. Similarly, the Indianapolis Colts should improve under first-year head coach Shane Steichen but they simply don't have the talent to keep up with the Jags.

Then, there's the Tennessee Titans, who will enter the 2023 season with an aging roster. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill wasn't spectacular last year and he doesn't have enough weapons to light up the scoreboard. Running back Derrick Henry showed in 2022 that he's still the king at the position but he could start declining at any time, especially if he once again gets a huge workload.

Meanwhile, most of the Jaguars' starting lineup from last year will return in 2023. Moreover, they added depth to most position groups in free agency and the draft. When you take into account that they got somewhat of an easy schedule, projecting them to win back-to-back division titles for the first time since 1998 seems like a good bet.

The Jacksonville Jaguars have a path to repeat as AFC South champions in 2023

As Key Adams recently noted, the Jaguars are set to face a few heavyweights in 2023. Not only will they play the defending Super Bowl champ Kansas City Chiefs but they will also matchups against the Cincinnati Bengals, the Buffalo Bills, and the San Francisco 49ers.

Then again, Adams believes that Trevor Lawrence is well-equipped to lead the Jaguars to another division championship. She notes that he was one of the best quarterbacks in the second half of the 2022 season and adds that Calvin Ridley is a huge upgrade to the offense.

On top of that, it's hard to see the Jags regress under the leadership of Doug Pederson. If anything, he should keep his team motivated after losing to the Chiefs in the Divisional Round of the playoffs last year.

You should always expect the unexpected when it comes to the NFL. Just last year, the Jacksonville Jaguars went from worst to best, proving anything is possible. Having said that, it might not be a good idea to bet against a team that is determined to return to the playoffs and get over the hump in 2023.

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