There are plenty of folks around the country that think the Colts, sans Andrew Luck, can still contend for the AFC South title in 2019. Others believe the Texans, with their high octane aerial attack, are now the favorites in the South. Long-time NFL analyst John Clayton is not in either camp. He believes the Jaguars will go from worst to first and win the division.
Here’s what Clayton wrote about the Jaguars in his seven bold predictions for the Washington Post:
New quarterback Nick Foles has looked great this offseason, and his presence should enable the Jags to elevate their scoring average to 23 or 24 points per game — a big improvement from the 15.3 points per game they scored last year with Blake Bortles at the helm. Foles will benefit from the fact that running back Leonard Fournette is back to running well.
The defense is loaded once again, and in particular it should be effective at getting to opposing quarterbacks. It helps that both the Tennessee Titans and Houston Texans have problems in pass protection. Perhaps most importantly, Jacksonville should be much better in close games this year. The Jaguars were 2-6 last season in games decided by eight points or less.
While Colts General Manager Chris Ballard has greatly improved the team’s roster since two years ago when Jacoby Brissett led an offense that averaged 16 points per game, that won’t be nearly enough to get Indianapolis to the level it was last season when Luck led a 27-point offense. Luck’s retirement means the Colts go from a Super Bowl contender to a six- or seven-win team.
It’s hard to argue with what Clayton wrote about the Jaguars defense. It is likely the most talented unit in all of football. And they look poised to re-earn the “Sacksonville” moniker.
Regarding Nick Foles, Leonard Fournette, and the rest of the Jaguars’ offense, it’s all about staying healthy. Neither Nick Foles or Leonard Fournette has completed a full season in the NFL to this point in their careers. And the Jaguars’ offensive line features lots of talent but is coming off a year in which none of their starters could stay healthy.
As I wrote earlier today, I too believe the Jaguars will win the AFC South. The Jags have a significant advantage over the Texans when it comes to their D-Line against the Houston O-Line. The Jags will also have the benefit of Titans’ star left tackle being suspended when they face their foes from Tennessee in week three. And without Andrew Luck, the Colts will not be able to sustain their high level of play on both sides of the ball, no matter how determined they are.
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