Jaguars have plenty to prove before they're considered Super Bowl contenders

• Getting to the Super Bowl is a tough task, but B/R thinks that the Jaguars have a reasonable chance to get there in 2024.
Jacksonville Jaguars fans react to linebacker Josh Allen (41) breaking the team single-season sacks record on Sunday, Dec. 31, 2023 at EverBank Stadium in Jacksonville, Fla.
Jacksonville Jaguars fans react to linebacker Josh Allen (41) breaking the team single-season sacks record on Sunday, Dec. 31, 2023 at EverBank Stadium in Jacksonville, Fla. / Corey Perrine/Florida Times-Unio / USA

The Jacksonville Jaguars aren't probably the first team that comes to mind when you think of Super Bowl contenders. Nevertheless, Brad Gagnon of Bleacher Report believes they're among a handful of clubs with a reasonable chance to raise the Lombardi Trophy for the first time in 2024.

Gagnon ranked a handful of teams who've never won the Super Bowl by likelihood and placed Jacksonville at No. 5, noting that they have a reasonable chance due to the presence of Trevor Lawrence and a revamped defense.

"The Jaguars may have choked late in 2023, but it's important to remember this is still a team that was 8-3 entering December thanks in part to the fact quarterback Trevor Lawrence has elite ability.

Blessed with a big new contract and healthy again after an injury-marred '23 campaign, the former No. 1 overall pick could be on the verge of a breakout age-25 season. And it helps that the defense has undergone a makeover, leaving Jacksonville in a good position to rebound and build on a season that saw them post a top-10 DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average) total.

That puts them in the same conversation as Houston, despite what the official odds suggest."

Ultimately, Gagnon thinks the Jaguars have a 4.0 percent chance of winning the Super Bowl. For comparison, he gave Houston a 5.0 percent chance despite the fact that only the Kansas City Chiefs, the San Francisco 49ers, and the Baltimore Ravens have better odds than them ahead of 2024, per DraftKings.

Gagnon acknowledges that the Texans acquired Danielle Hunter and Stefon Diggs in the offseason but argues that opponents will be better equipped to contain C.J. Stroud and the defense in 2024. For that reason, he's "going a little more conservative with Houston for now."

The Buffalo Bills sit at the top of Gagnon's list with a 10 percent chance. The Cincinnati Bengals are second with a 9.0 percent likelihood. The Detroit Lions landed at No. 3 with 8.0 percent.

The Super Bowl may not be within reach for the Jaguars in 2024

The Jacksonville Jaguars are most definitely in better shape than they were at the end of 2023. However, they must first show they can beat Super Bowl-bound teams before they're considered legitimate contenders.

While it's true that Jacksonville was 8-3 at one point last season, two of their losses came against the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs, the 2023 conference champions. In both instances, they were soundly defeated. On the bright side, the Jags have a few things going for them.

As Gagnon noted, Jacksonville made upgrades to the defense. Their most meaningful addition arguably was the hiring of Ryan Nielsen as the defensive coordinator. He held the same position with the Atlanta Falcons last year and they showed a noticeable improvement. The Jaguars should reap the benefits of his presence right out of the gate.

One reason for the Jaguars' collapse was that the defense went through the motions late in 2023. Communication between position groups was non-existent and assignments were no longer being discussed. Nielsen's renewed emphasis on technique and fundamentals will be a breath of fresh air.

When you factor in that Nielsen will work with difference-makers such as outside linebacker Josh Allen, safety Andre Cisco, and defensive tackle Arik Armstead (to name a few), seeing the Jaguars' defense rank in the top 10 next year is a realistic possibility.

On offense, Trevor Lawrence is back at full strength after dealing with several injuries in the second half of the season. Looking back, it's no coincidence that the Jags' struggles began when the star quarterback got hurt. Although he only sat out one game, his performance was severely hindered.

Having a healthy Lawrence behind center will be huge On the other hand, the Jaguars realized that they needed to give him more help if they want to keep him upright. For that reason, they beefed up the offensive line and bolstered his arsenal of weapons.

All things considered, Jacksonville has a favorable chance of reclaiming the AFC South. That should be their main goal in 2024. When it comes to their Super Bowl hopes, though, they're better off tempering expectations.

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