The Jaguars didn't lose this week. They didn't play. In fact, from a certain point of view, the Jaguars were big winners in week eight.
The 1-6 Jaguars saw much of their main competition for a spot in the top two picks of the 2021 NFL Draft pick up improbable victories. Almost every other one-win team entering the week (that played a game) emerged victorious. The Falcons outlasted the Panthers on Thursday. The Vikings shocked the world (I predicted the victory last Friday on the Sports Cast) by taking down the Packers in Green Bay on the back of four Dalvin Cook touchdowns. The Bengals, led by Joe Burrow, fell the Titans in Cincy. The Giants were oh so close to pulling off a surprise upset against Tom Brady and the Bucs, a team many believe will reach the final game of the season.
Now only two teams share a one-win record with the Jags. The aforementioned Giants, who look poised to win at least one matchup with either the Cowboys or Redskins down the stretch, have just one win to their name. The other team? The Texans. You know, the team the Jaguars play in week nine. If Jacksonville falls to Houston, the Jags and Giants will be all alone amongst one-win teams and will be in the driver's seat for a pick inside the top three. Have you seen the Jags remaining schedule? If they can't slay the Texans, their chances of beating the Packers, Vikings, Browns, Ravens, Steelers, Colts, Bears, or Titans are slim to none.
The lone team with a worse record than the Jaguars and the Giants? The Jets. At 0-7, the Jets may not be favored in a game for the rest of the season. But if the Jets do happen to pick up a win somewhere along the way, the Jags and Giants could jump them and climb all the way to number one. The tiebreaker is strength of schedule (easier SOS gets the nod), and the Jets have a tougher overall schedule at this point in the season. Between the Giants and Jaguars, the G-Men have the easier schedule, but not by much, and that's subject to change.
Don't get me wrong; I'd never advocate for a team to straight-up tank, although I do understand the strategy the Dolphins are currently employing. But in the Jaguars' case, they don't have to try to tank; they're just that bad. And make no mistake about it, landing a pick in the top two would dramatically change the Jaguars' future outlook. It would mean they'd be set to land one of the top two QBs in the 2021 class. Trevor Lawrence (Clemson) and Justin Fields (Ohio State) represent an unfamiliar prospect around these parts: the potential for a legitimate franchise QB. I'd advise a one-spot trade up if the Jaguars fall just outside the top two.
We'll see how this all plays out. There's a lot of football left to play. While the Jets and Giants are ahead of the Jaguars in the draft, there doesn't appear to be a worse team in football than the one that resides in Duval county. The Giants have been in many close games, including their two-point loss to the Bucs on Monday Night. And while the Jets continue to struggle, they appear to be showing more signs of life than the Jaguars, who will be trotting out a rookie sixth-round pick at quarterback against the Texans on Sunday.
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