Before the bombshell of 2019 — Andrew Luck's shocking retirement — the Jaguars were positioned to make a run at a wild card spot in the AFC playoffs. With a well-built roster, centered around all-world quarterback Andrew Luck, the Colts were the favorites to take he the AFC South crown. But with Andrew Luck out of the picture, the Jaguars are now in the driver's seat to win the division.
The obvious path to winning a division title in the NFL is getting wins inside the division. Thanks to the misfortune of the rest of the South, the Jaguars are set up to do just that.
Besides the Andrew Luck news, the Texans lost their starting running back Lamar Miller for the season with an ACL injury. And the Titans will be without their starting left tackle for the first four weeks due to a violation of the league's banned substances policy.
While all that drama has been unfolding around the AFC South, the Jaguars have been able to get healthy and are on track to be close to full strength to start the regular season. And the Jags should be able to split or sweep each of their divisional rivals.
The Jaguars travel to Houston in week two to take on the Texans. Houston might not be an easy team to take down at home, but the Jaguars have an advantage against the Texans. Their defensive line is far more talented than the Houston offensive line. It's no secret that the Texans struggle to protect the passer, and the Jaguars should be able to exploit that weakness thanks to a pass rush led by Calais Campbell and Yannick Ngakoue. And Nick Foles has experience starting and winning against the Texans. Foles threw for 471 and yards, and four TD passes against the Texans in December of last year.
The Jaguars second matchup with the Texans will be in London, where the Jaguars have been tough to beat in recent years. The team's experience with traveling overseas should help them in that one. And while the Jaguars' have a trove of experience to lean on when it comes to playing across the pond, the Texans have never done so.
The Jaguars could indeed sweep the Texans and should be penciled in to win at least one against their rivals from Texas.
Season Series Prediction: 1-1 split
When you look at the Jaguars' matchups with the Titans in recent years, it's been incredibly one-sided. The Jaguars haven't beaten them since 2016. But Taylor Lewan's suspension will aid the Jaguars when they take on the Titans in a week three Thursday Night Football matchup in Jax. The Jaguars should be able to take advantage of the Titans' depleted offensive line. Still, beating the Titans has proven impossible for the Jaguars over the last couple of years, and I wouldn't predict the Big Cats to win more than one against their foes from Nashville.
Season Series Prediction: 1-1 split
Finally, we get to the Colts. Even with Andrew Luck on the field in 2018, the Colts did not match up well with the Jaguars. The two teams split their season series, but the Jaguars held the Colts scoreless for six consecutive quarters. Jacoby Brissett is a competent backup, but in 2017 he showed that he isn't capable of leading the Colts to victory over the Jaguars, as Jacksonville swept the season series. While this version of the Colts is better built to survive without Andrew Luck, their offense won't have enough firepower to best the Jaguars' defense.
Season Series Prediction: 2-0 Jaguars
With these predictions, the Jaguars would finish 4-2 in the division, setting them up nicely to take home the AFC South crown for the second time in three seasons. With four divisional wins, the Jaguars would likely need just 6-7 more wins to take home the division title. The catalyst for the Jaguars' failure to compete at a high-level last season was the massive amount of injuries sustained on offense and the subpar play of quarterbacks Blake Bortles and Cody Kessler. The Jaguars now have Nick Foles at the helm and should boast an offense that's at least average. That, combined with the most talented defense in football, will be enough to get the Jags back to the top of the AFC South.
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