The Jacksonville Jaguars are riding a hot streak into their BYE, having won five straight games. Their 6-2 record is tied for the best in the league and the best one they've had to start a season since 1999. Not surprisingly, they've kept climbing in most NFL Power Rankings heading into Week 9.
As recently as Week 4, Jacksonville was rightfully left out of the top 10. They had back-to-back losses to the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs and a Houston Texans team that was supposed to be easy to beat on paper.
However, the Jags have rebounded and played as well as they were expected entering the regular season. Both their offense and their defense rank in the top 10 in the NFL in points scored and points allowed. They also have a league-best 18 turnovers. That's led Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk to give them their No. 2 spot in his power ranking. He believes their incoming matchup against the San Francisco 49ers could be a Super-Bowl preview.
The only club Florio ranked above Jacksonville was the Philadelphia Eagles, who have lost just one game and remain a favorite to represent the NFC in Super Sunday. On the other hand, the Kansas City Chiefs tumbled to No. 5 after an embarrassing loss to the Denver Broncos. Similarly, the Niners got the sixth spot after losing three in a row.
Pete Prisco of CBS Sports, for his part, ranked the Jaguars third, behind Philly and the Ravens. However, he concedes that Jacksonville must be in the conversation for the best team in the AFC. The Bleacher Report also gave the Jags the No. 3 spot, noting that they've come a long way since losing to Houston. Moreover, B/R calls their Week 8 win over the Steelers a team effort.
"Sunday's victory in Pittsburgh was a well-rounded effort. Quarterback Trevor Lawrence threw for 292 yards and posted a triple-digit passer rating. Running back Travis Etienne Jr. piled up 149 total yards and scored a touchdown. The Jaguars held the Steelers to 261 yards of offense and knocked Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett out of the game."
The Jacksonville Jaguars can be even better when they return from their BYE
Not only are the Jacksonville Jaguars hitting their stride on both sides of the ball but they're also getting healthier in time for a strong second half of the season. Even though wide receiver Zay Jones may need a bit of time to fully recover from a nagging injury he's been dealing with, offensive lineman Walker Little could return for Week 10 and give the interior offensive line a boost.
Little moved to left guard when Cam Robinson returned from a four-game suspension to start the year. However, he hurt his MCL and has missed the last three games. During his absence, Tyler Shatley has been filling in at guard but Little is the better player of the two. Having him back will be huge. Cornerback Tyson Campbell has also been dealing with a hamstring injury. Sophomore Montaric Brown has filled in for him admirably but Campbell will return to the lineup once he's fully healthy.
On top of that, DaVon Hamilton and Dawuane Smoot should get better as the season progresses. Both of them began the season on Injured Reserve and recently came back; Smoot in Week 6 and Hamilton in Week 8. Their return rounds out a pass rush led by outside linebacker Josh Allen, who's having a career year.
The Jacksonville Jaguars are a well-rounded team. They have talent and depth and most positions groups. They're also fixing issues that previously held them back and are getting better by the week. It wouldn't be shocking to seize the No. 2 or even the top spot in power rankings if they keep playing the way they have.