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NFL power rankings: Peter King puts Jaguars last in AFC South

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Jacksonville Jaguars v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Peter King of the MMQB.com has ranked the Jacksonville Jaguars as the worst team in the AFC South and one of the six worst teams in the entire league — giving them the No. 27 overall ranking in his latest power rankings.

27. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

Why I have the Jaguars 27th: Jacksonville is like the old Washington team in the early Dan Snyder years, winning free agency every year. Lots of money spent for lots of bad teams. If I’m Shad Khan, I’m getting damn impatient. Every year, I give Dave Caldwell and the coaching staff everything they ask for, and every year the product stinks. That’s why this is such a big year for Blake Bortles (a Caldwell pick all the way) and for Caldwell. It’ll be interesting to see the influence of Coughlin—and if the Jags pull another stinker this year, whether Coughlin in 2018 becomes the coach or GM or both. For now, this is a team that should try to win running the ball with Fournette and Chris Ivory, and by playing strong defense. Bouye and 2016 first-rounder Jalen Ramsey are an excellent young cover tandem, and Campbell should buttress a burgeoning front seven. Then again, I talked very optimistically about the Jags last off-season too. At some point, talk becomes cheap.

Jaguars prediction of 10 words or less: In a 5-11 year, Fournette leads AFC in rushing.

First, whew.

Second, he’s right. There’s no sugar coating any of this. The Jaguars have a talented roster, but you are bad until you’re good. That’s not trolling. The Jaguars are as good as their win-loss records say — even Blake Bortles agreed yesterday.

However, I’ll take the lumps this year if it means Leonard Fournette leads the AFC in rushing because not only does that mean the running back situation is fixed, but that the offensive line is presumably improving and probably a top-10 unit in run blocking. And if you have a running back leading the conference in yards, your quarterback can’t be that bad, right?

So, what does King think of the other AFC South teams? Here’s what he said about the next best team — the Indianapolis Colts.

24. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

Why I have the Colts 24th: I like Ballard, and when a new GM takes over, you’ve got to show some faith in his roster evaluation. The most interesting thing Ballard did is stay status quo with the offensive line, which could have the same starting five that ended the 2016 season—in a very disappointing way. The five projected starters for the Colts this year were rated as mediocre by Pro Football Focus in 2016: Anthony Castonzo and Joe Haeg 15th and 39th, respectively, at tackle, Jack Mewhort and Denzelle Good 25th and 68th, respectively, at guard, and Ryan Kelly 19th at center. Ballard says he likes the line Grigson assembled more than the critics do, so we’ll see. I make this point because Andrew Luck has been hurt more than most quarterbacks, and he’s a pocket player, and if he continues to get hit the way he has, this team is going to struggle.

Colts prediction of 10 words or less: Poor offensive line, pass rush. Wait until ’18.

I can get on board with this evaluation as well. Sure, the Colts have a top-10 quarterback in the league — but what else? An aging Frank Gore? T.Y. Hilton? That offensive line is worse than the Jaguars’ and their defense is bad and still overachieving.

King has the Houston Texans at No. 20 in the NFL and No. 2 in the AFC South. That’s a weak division and a bit of a jab at a potentially 10-6 playoff team.

Here’s what King said about the Texans:

20. HOUSTON TEXANS

Why I have the Texans 20th: I don’t trust them to have good quarterback play, and I’m skeptical of Bill O’Brien’s long-term future. I trust the defense, obviously. But with a shaky passing game (Tom Savage has huge pressure on him entering the season, obviously), that will exacerbate the worries about the future. Amazing that we’re not even that concerned about the return of J.J. Watt. That’s because the defense proved it could win without Watt. The offense, though, didn’t score 28 points in any of 18 games last year, and how exactly are they significantly improved unless Watson comes on fast? One final thing: When Gaine left for Buffalo last week, I took that as a bad sign for O’Brien’s future. O’Brien liked and respected Gaine. For Gaine to makes a sideways move to the Buffalo Bills may not be a great sign for the long-term prospects of the O’Brien administration.

Texans prediction of 10 words or less: Though green, Watson starts 10 games. Inaccurate, but dynamic.​

I think Watson starts from Day 1 and if he’s only starting 10 games in 2017, it’s because he got injured midseason. That Texans defense is still very, very good — even without A.J. Bouye — and I would have had them a few spots higher. They’ll be competing for the division title into Week 17.

And last but not least, here’s what King had to say about who he believes to be the best team in the AFC South — the Tennessee Titans:

4. Tennessee Titans

Why I have the Titans fourth: Every year there’s one stunner in the league (at least), and this year I like Tennessee to be that team. Not saying they’ll be another Nashville Predators and make the final two, but I like the Titans to make this huge jump because of core players. Marcus Mariota returns healthy from a broken leg and is a trusted and athletic player about to become a top-10 quarterback. The two franchise tackles, Taylor Lewan and Jack Conklin, proved their mettle last year, and are long-termers; they’ll play this year at 26 and 23, respectively. Much is expected of Corey Davis, the first-round receiver, as a deep threat, and he has to deliver. On defense, Jurrell Casey needs to be a national attention-grabber, Vince Wilfork with a better pass-rush. He’s good. The pass-rush (Derrick Morgan, Brian Orakpo) should generate enough pressure. The secondary’s the big concern, obviously. Adoree’ Jackson has to be the physical cover player he showed last fall at USC, and he has to be that way from day one. LeShaun Sims is a rising corner. In short, I’m trusting lots of young players to win a division that’s up for grabs and to win at least one January game.

Titans prediction in 10 words or less: Marcus Mariota will be a strong MVP candidate.

This... well, this is a take.

I don’t know if I’d even call the Titans a top-10 team in the league, but King thinks they are one of the best four. That’s the preseason equivalent of saying they’ll go to the AFC title game and lose this year.

And Marcus Mariota as an MVP candidate — listen, I can see him being a great quarterback this year. I think he’s arguably the best in the AFC South. But an MVP candidate?

I don’t think so, Peter.

So how do you feel about these rankings? Is King too low on the Jaguars?

Poll

Peter King ranked the Jaguars are the 27th best team in the NFL. Too low, too high, just right?

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  • 54%
    Too low
    (540 votes)
  • 5%
    Too high
    (56 votes)
  • 39%
    Just right
    (391 votes)
987 votes total Vote Now