The Jacksonville Jaguars enjoyed a meteoric rise in the 2017 season, reaching the AFC Championship game, only to be defeated by the New England Patriots.
The Jaguars had not reached the post-season since the 2007 campaign. However, Doug Marrone’s men produced an outstanding term to win the AFC South for the first time.
Jacksonville defeated the Buffalo Bills in the Wildcard Round before putting forward a brilliant display on the road in the Divisional Round. The Jaguars were forced to play the Pittsburgh Steelers and the ‘Killer Bs’.
However, having already triumphed over Ben Roethlisberger and company during the regular season, the Jaguars had the confidence to head into Heinz Field to send Pittsburgh crashing out of the post-season, scoring 45 points in the process.
The club even had the Patriots rocking in the AFC Championship Game, holding a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter. Although the excellence of Tom Brady and Danny Amendola in the clutch ended their Super Bowl dream.
Marrone’s men remain a talented unit and will be determined to learn from their experience. Blake Bortles remains at quarterback, despite justified criticism over his performances last term.
The roster remains intact along with the additions in the 2018 Draft, with Taven Bryan, DJ Chark and Ronnie Harrison. The major free-agent signing was offensive lineman Andrew Norwell from the Carolina Panthers to add punch in the running game. The Super Bowl has to be the goal for the Jags.
The Jaguars put faith in Bortles handing him a three-year contract extension, despite criticism of the quarterback’s play from pundits. He almost had a Joe Flacco-like post-season to guide his team to the Super Bowl. However, Bortles couldn’t produce the magic like the Baltimore Ravens’ man did to beat the Patriots at Gillette Stadium. The 26-year-old has his faults. He did enough when it mattered the most to beat the Bills and the Steelers in the post-season, making good throws under pressure. Due to the quality of the Jaguars’ defense, Bortles only has to manage games. If he can make the simple throws when presented with the opportunity, Jacksonville can be successful. Flacco is the example for Bortles to follow, who produced a brilliant string of games to win Super Bowl XLVII.
Leonard Fournette was selected fourth overall in the 2017 Draft. He had his moments as a rookie, but tailed off towards the end of the campaign as injuries slowed his production. Fournette used his size and power in the college game to bully opposing defenses. Although the running back threatened to achieve similar results in the NFL, the grind of week-in week-out play against quality opponents proved to be too much in his rookie term. With an off-season under his belt and time to recover, Fournette is more than capable of lighting up the NFL and will have plenty of opportunities.
Jacksonville’s receiving corps has been hit with the loss of Marqise Lee due to injury. He will miss the entire of campaign after tearing his ACL. Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson left the club in the off-season therefore there will be pressure on Dede Westbrook, Keelan Cole and signing Donte Moncrief to perform, while rookie Chark will slot into fourth place on the depth chart. They’ve displayed talent at times, but the players they are replacing were proven in the NFL.
The Jaguars’ defense was one of the most dominant units in the NFL last season. Expect them to continue to operate at that level throughout the 2018 campaign. It begins on the defensive line where Jacksonville’s front four caused havoc on a weekly basis. Calais Campbell was a well-established veteran before his arrival. However, he was imperious last term, enjoying the best season of his career with 14.5 sacks, earning his first appearance at the Pro Bowl. At the age of 32 it will be interesting to see whether Campbell can remain at an elite level.
The presence of Yannick Ngakoue, Marcell Dareus, Malik Jackson and Dante Fowler Jr will make life easier on Campbell, with all four players capable of recording double-digit sacks. Ngakoue could be on course for a breakout campaign to join the elite pass-rushers in the NFL after a 12-sack term in 2017.
The linebackers are equally as good as their colleagues on the defensive line. After an injury-hit rookie season, Myles Jack made significant strides in 2017. Expect him to take more of a role to ease the burden on Telvin Smith. Jack is in the mould of Bobby Wagner and Luke Kuechly that he will rarely leave the field. He could be the most important player on the defense come the end of the campaign if he takes a step forward in his development.
Jalen Ramsey may be the best cornerback in the NFL. If you were to ask him, he would reply with an affirmative. The 24-year-old is elite and can blanket number one wideouts from start-to-finish. He has been speaking a lot in the media about opposing quarterbacks and receivers. Teams may put him to the test to see if he can back up his claims after an All-Pro 2017 season. AJ Bouye is just as good as his team-mate, giving the Jaguars the best cornerback tandem in the NFL. The spot alongside them is up for grabs, with the role of a slot cornerback becoming a vital position in the league.
The Jaguars will be battling the Houston Texans for the AFC South crown. It will not be an easy task given the quality of the Texans’ roster, with Deshaun Watson back in the fold. However, the Jags just have the edge on defense and given their experience last year, take them to win the AFC South at odds of +200 with TopBet, and take them at +175 with BetOnline to finish first in the division. Back them at -150 to reach the post-season once again and to win over nine games at -133 with 888Sport. The question about the Jaguars is whether they will be able to get over the hump in the AFC. It will take a step back from the Patriots to see Jacksonville through to the Super Bowl for the first time. Back them at odds of +800 with TopBet to win the AFC and odds of +1600 with BetOnline to win the Super Bowl.
Ngakoue could be a solid option to lead the NFL in sacks. He could be in the region of 20 this term at odds of +1400 with 888Sport, while Campbell could also be in contention at +2000 . Ngakoue has good value at +5000 to be considered defensive player of the year, although Ramsey and Campbell are more realistic options at +2000 and +2500 respectively with 888Sport. Bryan could be the rookie to watch should he see time on the defensive line. Take him at odds of +2500 to win the defensive rookie of the year award. Fournette will be aiming to break out in his second term in the NFL to lead the league in rushing yards at +800 with BetOnline. Take him to record over 1,150 yards and over 11 touchdowns both at -110 respectively with BetOnline.
Jacksonville Jaguars To Win AFC South
Jacksonville Jaguars To Finish 1st AFC South
Jacksonville Jaguars To Reach Playoffs
Jacksonville Jaguars To Win Over Nine Matches
Jacksonville Jaguars To Win AFC Conference
Jacksonville Jaguars To Win Super Bowl
Yannick Ngakoue To Lead NFL In Sacks
Yannick Ngakoue To Win Defensive Player Of The Year
Calais Campbell To Lead NFL In Sacks
Calais Campbell To Win Defensive Player Of The Year
Jalen Ramsey To Win Defensive Player Of The Year
Taven Bryan To Win Defensive Rookie Of The Year
Leonard Fournette To Lead NFL In Rushing Yards
Leonard Fournette To Rush For Over 1,150 Yards
Leonard Fournette To Record Over 11 Touchdowns