From 3-13 to 10-6 and picking up two wins in the playoffs, the Jacksonville Jaguars were the surprise team of the 2017 NFL betting season. The Philadelphia Eagles might have some beef with that statement, but this piece is about the Jags! Doug Marrone made upper management’s decision to strip him of the interim tag and give him the full time gig look exceptional as the franchise got a taste of postseason football for the first time since 2007.
A year ago, the Jags entered the regular season with a 6.5 game season win total. This time around, the number to beat for Blake Bortles and company currently sits at nine with a decent amount of juice riding the over. The betting markets are bullish on this team as are the oddsmakers who have them installed 18-1 dogs to win Super Bowl LIII, 8-1 choices to win the AFC, and the odds on +174 favorites to win what looks to be a highly competitive AFC South Division.
That’s a big step for a franchise that hasn’t experienced much success until last season. Though they came a couple stops and first downs away from making the franchise’s first Super Bowl appearance, one can only wonder if the team has it in them to at the very least match if not better last year’s win output.
If you watched any of the NFL last season, you know the Jags key to success was riding rookie running back Leonard Fournette into the ground and banking on the defense making a number of plays. The stop unit held up its end of the bargain. While the run defense left much to be desired, you can’t argue about how great the pass defense was with vets and youngsters combining to limit opposing offenses to less than 170 passing yards per game ( No. 1 ). On top of that, Calais Campbell and Yannick Ngakoue formed one of the most fearsome front lines that contributed to the 55 overall sacks tallied.
But for this team to take the next step, Bortles has to take it to the next level. He only completed 60.2 percent of his passes and played to an 84.7 QB rating. His 21:13 TD/INT ratio also left much to be desired. Though not the biggest surprise, Jacksonville showing their trust in him instead of looking elsewhere will have them thinking second guessing the decision should Bortles fail to improve upon last year’s outputs if not regress.
As concerned futures bettors might be with Bortles, the Jags are a run team first. That will once again be the case this season evidenced by management bringing in the best free agent offensive linemen in Andrew Norwell while solidifying the tight end position as well. As good as the defense was last season, two of the top three picks in the draft came on that side of the ball. That speaks volumes about the defensive force continuing to brew in #Sacksonville.
As good as the team looks both on paper and the field, the AFC South is incredibly tough. Much will have to line up just right for the Jags to repeat as division champs, but I wouldn’t put it past them to pull off the feat.
Jacksonville Jaguars Football Schedule
Week 1: Jaguars at Giants, Sunday, September 9, 1 p.m. ET – FOX
Week 2: Patriots at Jaguars, Sunday, September 16, 4:25 p.m. ET – CBS
Week 3: Titans at Jaguars, Sunday, September 23, 1 p.m. ET – FOX
Week 4: Jets at Jaguars, Sunday, September 30, 1 p.m. ET – FOX
Week 5: Jaguars at Chiefs, Sunday, October 7, 1 p.m. ET – CBS
Week 6: Jaguars at Cowboys, Sunday, October 14, 4:25 p.m. ET – CBS
Week 7: Texans at Jaguars, Sunday, October 21, 1 p.m. ET – CBS
Week 8: Eagles at Jaguars, Sunday, October 28, 9:30 a.m. ET – NFL Network
Week 9: Bye Week
Week 10: Jaguars at Colts, Sunday, November 11, 1 p.m. ET – CBS
Week 11: Steelers at Jaguars, Sunday, November 18, 8:20 p.m. ET – NBC
Week 12: Jaguars at Bills, Sunday, November 25, 1 p.m. ET – CBS
Week 13: Colts at Jaguars, Sunday, December 2, 1 p.m. ET – CBS
Week 14: Jaguars at Titans, Thursday, December 6, 8:20 p.m. ET – FOX
Week 15: Redskins at Jaguars, Sunday, December 16, 1 p.m. ET – FOX
Week 16: Jaguars at Dolphins, Sunday, December 23, 1 p.m. ET – CBS
Week 17: Jaguars at Texans, Sunday, December 30, 1 p.m. ET – CBS
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