With the 2017 NFL Draft a few weeks behind us and teams now beginning things like rookie mini-camp and organized team activities (OTAs) right around the corner, we're going to start to see the way too early predictions for team records. We've seen few for the Jacksonville Jaguars, including Sports Illustrated predicting a 4-12 season, which would be disastrous.
The worst thing about that 4-12 record is that... you can totally see it happening. It would be totally Jaguars, wouldn't it? I'm not sure they're that bad, unless quarterback Blake Bortles bombs out to rookie play levels, but the fact that it's considered a realistic possibility just speaks to the wide array of opinions on the Jaguars 2017 season.
Here's what Football Outsiders had to say about the AFC South (ESPN Insider), most notably the Jaguars themselves:
Tennessee Titans: 8-8 (8.3 mean wins; SOS: 29)
Jacksonville Jaguars: 8-8 (7.6 mean wins; SOS: 31)
Indianapolis Colts: 7-9 (7.3 mean wins; SOS: 30)
Houston Texans: 6-10 (6.0 mean wins; SOS: 10)
On the basis of play-by-play performance, the Titans were the best team in the division last season, ranked 15th in our DVOA ratings. They've made some strong free-agent additions on defense, though the decision to cut cornerback Jason McCourty is curious. Our system also buys into the Jaguars a little bit. They were dead last in defensive turnovers per drive, a strong indicator of future improvement, and eventually drafting all that defensive talent and signing free agents such as Calais Campbell and A.J. Bouye has to pay off. Of course, given the state of the Jaguars' offense, it's still not likely to pay off with a playoff appearance, but the team should at least be competitive.
Predictions for the Jaguars record, as mentioned, have been all over the place and that shouldn't be a surprise. Usually you can tell a person's confidence in Blake Bortles by what their prediction of the schedule is, but using FO's system it doesn't really factor that in. Bortles is typically going to have solid numbers, whatever your belief, so that makes sense.
Right now, sight unseen my initial guess is something like 6-10, but that can obviously change depending on how the preseason goes and if the offense looks and feels different than in the past. Last year, early on the offense appeared to be in cruise control, but it ran into a wall in the third game against the Cincinnati Bengals and the Jaguars just got demolished. Turns out, the Bengals weren't even that good in 2016, either. If it appears the Jaguars can run the football and Bortles seems better, which really we probably can't tell in the preseason one way or another, but we can get tricked!
I could see 8-8 being a reasonable expectations, especially as FO mentions, if the Jaguars defense can force turnovers and Bortles can drastically limit his turnovers/fumbles.