The Jacksonville Jaguars are tied for the best record in the NFL heading into their BYE. Barring a collapse in the second half of the regular season, they should clinch a playoff seed. They should also be able to win the AFC South title again. While there's plenty of football left, it doesn't look like another team in the division will be able to catch up with them. This has lead Brad Gagnon of Bleacher Report to say that they win by default.
Gagnon put together a list of predictions for each NFL team in the second half of the season. He envisions Jacksonville winning the AFC South but only because they're not facing any competition from any their division foes. In fact, he projects that they'll drop games to teams such as the San Francisco 49ers or the Cincinnati Bengals.
"The Jaguars are enjoying a nice winning streak right now, but it's still hard to take them seriously. They're riding a defensive takeaway party that seems unsustainable, and the schedule is about to toughen up. Watch for them to beat the bad teams, lose to at least the 49ers, Bengals and Ravens, and then go one-and-done or thereabouts in the playoffs."
Heading into Week 9, the Jags have a comfortable lead in the AFC South. They have a three-game lead over the Houston Texans and it's hard to see either the Tennessee Titans or the Indianapolis Colts turning the corner. Although Jacksonville lost to the Texans in Week 3, they swept the Colts this season. They have yet to face Tennessee this season but they should at least go 1-1. Worst-case scenario, the Jaguars will end with a 3-3, 4-2 record in the division.
On the other hand, there are a few tough games remaining on the Jaguars' schedule. All those teams Gagnon mentioned could give them fits. In fact, he predicts the Ravens will win the top seed in the AFC. That said, Jacksonville isn't toothless. They fell to the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 2 but they've gotten much better since then and rank in the top 10 of most meaningful categories in the NFL.
The Jags won't probably go 3-0 against the Niners, Baltimore and the Cincinnati Bengals, but they have enough talent in place to at least win two of those contests. Again, all of those teams are potential playoff contenders but so are the Jags, which is why they shouldn't be overlooked.
The Jacksonville Jaguar need be in the the conversation as one of the top teams in the AFC
You could point out that the Jaguars have won ugly in 2023 but that's actually a compliment. If they can beat teams even when they aren't at their best, what will they be capable of once they're playing at full steam?
Last year, they started 2-6 but got into a hot streak in the second half to make the playoffs and win the AFC South. The Jaguars' turnover coincided with the BYE. They seemed like different team, one that was focused and driven to qualify for the postseason even though the odds weren't in their favor. In the end, they went 6-1 and managed to sneak into the playoffs.
The Jacksonville Jaguars are off to a much better start in 2023 but they still have room for improvement. If last year was an indication, they're saving their best football for the second half of the season. They won't probably go undefeated but they'll most definitely beat other good teams, even if some analyts aren't sold on them yet.