The Jacksonville Jaguars have enough talent to win their division and challenge the top teams in the AFC in 2023, but just how good are they? Peter King of NBC Sports believes they're good enough to seize the No. 1 seed in the conference.
In his latest Morning Football In America, King has the Jags clinching the top seed in the AFC, ahead of powerhouses such as the Kansas City Chiefs, the Buffalo Bills, and the Cincinnati Bengals.
"Jags were a respectable 12th in the league in points allowed last year. They can’t be any lower than that if they’re going to be competitive with the best of the AFC."
King cites the Jaguars' slate of tough games at home, and a "comfy stretch" to finish the season against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Carolina Panthers, and the Tennessee Titans, as the reasons they will get the best playoff seeding in the AFC.
However, King's prediction comes with a caveat. While he sees Jacksonville getting a Bye in the postseason, he thinks they'll fall to the Bills in the Divisional Round. In fact, he predicts a Philadelphia Eagles-Buffalo Super Bowl.
Later in his column, King discusses the things that could potentially hold Buffalo back: Josh Allen's mistakes in the red zone, wide receiver Stefon Diggs' commitment to the team and whether "he'll be all-in for 17 weeks."
The Jags are coming off a trip to the playoffs, and they're favored to win the AFC South for the second straight year. The fact that they'll face off against the best teams in the league will show how much they've improved since the end of the 2022 season.
The Jaguars have a chance to solidify themselves as a top AFC team
The Jaguars have a franchise quarterback in Trevor Lawrence, whose supporting cast is among the best in the league. Similarly, they possess a head coach who knows how to win it all in Doug Pederson. Moreover, they have lots of talent and depth on defense to go along with a promising offense. The one Achilles Heel Jacksonville has heading into the 2023 season is their pass rush rotation.
Although Travon Walker and Josh Allen are capable (and expected) of bringing the heat, the Jags don't have much depth behind them. Dawuane Smoot is still recovering from the Achilles tear he suffered last year and won't be able to contribute until October. This leaves rookie Yasir Abdullah and K'Lavon Chaisson as their current options to round out their rotation. The former has flashed but still needs to hone his skills while the latter hasn't done anything since he was drafted 20th overall in 2020 to make you think he'll put it all together.
Meanwhile, the Bills have a franchise quarterback of their own and a ferocious pass rush. Even though Von Miller will sit out four games to begin the season, they felt so good about the defensive front that they traded 2021 second-round pick Boogie Basham to the New York Giants ahead of roster cutdown day.
Similarly, the Jaguars have several tough challenges in the San Francisco 49ers, the Chiefs, and the Cincinnati Bengals. Joe Burrow is currently dealing with a calf injury and he could miss the opener but he should be ready for Cincy's matchup against the Jags later in the season. Similarly, quarterback Brock Purdy had elbow surgery in the offseason but he should be a full go when the Niners play Jacksonville.
The bottomline is that the Jaguars have a realistic shot at earning the top seed in the playoffs but they'll have to clear several hurdles to do so. Peter King believes they will.