The Jacksonville Jaguars made several changes to ensure they repeat winning the AFC South next season. That said, other teams in the division have also restocked their roster in an effort to keep up. Still, Pete Prisco and Cody Benjamin of CBS Sports think Jacksonville should have no trouble repeating as champions for the second straight year.
Prisco, for his part, notes that the Jags have a favorable schedule and a dark horse candidate for MVP honors in quarterback Trevor Lawerence. On top of that, having Doug Pederson as the head coach should help Jacksonville win 12 or 13 games next season. On the other hand, Benjamin picks the Jaguars to win the division because he doesn't see the Indianapolis Colts and the Houston Texans as threats. Similarly, he doesn't think much of the Tennessee Titans' roster.
"Benjamin: Jaguars. It's the copout pick in a weak division, but who cares? The Colts and Texans are playing for tomorrow, the Titans are mostly stuck in the past, and Trevor Lawrence is poised for a big leap among the loaded crop of star AFC QBs."
After winning a measly three games in 2021 (and just one the year before), the Jaguars hired Pederson to fix the mess his predecessor Urban Meyer left. Although they got off to a slow start, Jacksonville went on to win seven of their last eight games and qualify for the postseason.
In an effort to prove last season wasn't a fluke, the Jags kept most of their 2022 core together, signing tight end Evan Engram, Roy Robertson-Harris, and DaVon Hamilton to long-term deals. Even though they weren't able to prevent all their players from leaving, they managed to add lots of depth in free agency and the draft.
The AFC South will run through the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2023
As Prisco noted, the Jaguars have a top-10 quarterback in Trevor Lawrence. Whether he becomes a legitimate MVP candidate remains to be seen but Lawrence showed last year that he could put the team on his shoulders and win games. Meanwhile, the Texans and Colts will be starting rookies in Week 1.
Anthony Richardson will be behind center when the Colts face Jacksonville in the opener while the Texans have officially named C.J. Stroud the starter for the 2023 season. While there's a chance both quarterbacks will develop into the faces of their respective franchises, they've still a long way to go.
In Richardson's case, he doesn't have a great supporting cast, which will most likely increase his learning curve. Right now, it looks like Indy will need another draft or two to have a legitimate shot at competing. On the other hand, Stroud flashed in the preseason but has his work cut out before he's in a position to lead Houston to a winning season. Expect the Texans to show up every Sunday under the leadership of head coach DeMeco Ryans but this will be sort of a learning season for the whole team.
Regarding the Titans, general manager Ran Carthon did a good job of revamping their roster, especially the offense. However, veteran Ryan Tannehill is coming off a down season and it's uncertain if he'll be able to bounce back. If he doesn't, Tennessee might feel inclined to roll with rookie Will Levis. The fact that DeAndre Hopkins is the only viable receiver in the passing game doesn't help matters. Working in the Titans' favor is that they'll play hard for coach Mike Vrabel. Also, their defense is stacked with talent but the offense could hold them back.
The bottom line is that the Jaguars are in a position to exceed their win totals from last year and seize the division crown for the second straight year. Their own roster, along with the weak state of the AFC South will make it possible.