Death. Taxes. The Jacksonville Jaguars having a top 10 pick in next year’s NFL Draft. These are the facts of life for 2017.
The Jags have made 10 consecutive top 10 draft picks dating back to 2008. Tom Coughlin is now back with the organization’s front office, and if he can have the same success as an executive that he did as a head coach, perhaps he can be the man who finally turns this franchise around.
Why the Jaguars Will Overachieve in 2017
The Jaguars haven’t ranked in the top 20 in the NFL in rushing since 2011. Leonard Fournette changes all of that. Just as Ezekiel Elliott completely changed the way the Cowboys play offense, Fournette does the same thing with Jacksonville, running the ball 350 times while setting the all-time rookie rushing record.
Jacksonville only has two road wins in its last three seasons, but it kicks off the year with an away victory against Houston to set the tone for the campaign. The Jaguars end up featuring a top 10 defense for a second straight season, but this year, allowing around 320 yards per game translates into actual success on the scoreboard. Whereas Jacksonville ranked No. 25 in scoring defense last year, it finishes 2017 with a matching top 10 scoring offense.
The Jags don’t quite have enough to get into the playoffs, but 9-7 is a huge step in the right direction, and it affirms that things are finally going in the right direction.
Why the Jaguars Will Underachieve in 2017
The first thing Coughlin did when he came back to Jacksonville (aside from starting a meeting five minutes early) was fail to endorse Blake Bortles as the starting quarterback. The Jaguars start Bortles to kick off the season anyway, and he has a typical Bortles game in the opener against Houston. He’ll throw for 330 yards, 215 of which will come in the second half with the Jags trailing by 25. A pair of first half picks, a pair of second half touchdowns and a 31-17 loss in a game that isn’t nearly as close as the final score suggests.
The difference between this season and years past? Bortles isn’t given another chance. Chad Henne starts the rest of the year, and though he has a few high points, he’s generally not much better than Bortles.
The true disappointment comes when Fournette barely averages three yards per carry. It’s clear now that this club needs a quarterback, and at least two or three new offensive linemen. The opportunity to take one of those will come once again with another top 10 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.
2017 Jacksonville Jaguars Schedule
Week 1: at Texans
Week 2: vs. Titans
Week 3: vs. Ravens
Week 4: at Jets
Week 5: at Steelers
Week 6: vs. Rams
Week 7: at Colts
Week 8: Bye
Week 9: vs. Bengals
Week 10: vs. Chargers
Week 11: at Browns
Week 12: at Cardinals
Week 13: vs. Colts
Week 14: vs. Seahawks
Week 15: vs. Texans
Week 16: at 49ers
Week 17: at Titans
Jaguars Pick ‘Em Contest Best Bet: Week 4 at Jets
Sometimes you just have to make the obvious selection. The Jaguars had a problem stopping the run last year, allowing 106.4 yards per game, but they’ll know they can stack the box against the Jets and dare Josh McCown to throw the ball to his suspect wide receivers. We hate the fact that this game is on the road with the road struggles we mentioned earlier, but this could be a game in which Jacksonville is favored. There’s no lock the Jags win, but the Jets are ridiculously poor.
Jaguars Pick ‘Em Contest Top Fade: Week 5 at Steelers
We’re not recreating the wheel here. Not only have the Jags only won two road games in the last three seasons, but they haven’t beaten a team that finished above .500 on the road since 2012. The Steelers haven’t lost a home game to a team that didn’t make the playoffs since losing to Baltimore on Thursday Night Football without Ben Roethlisberger early in 2015. Even though it isn’t a slam dunk that Pittsburgh will finish on the right side of .500, there’s a good chance that’ll be the case. Sometimes it’s best to keep it simple with our NFL Pick ‘Em Contests.