The Jacksonville Jaguars got off to a less than ideal start through the first half of the season, currently sitting with a 3-5 record during the team’s bye week.
All hope is not lost, though, as the Jaguars’ playoff chances are still alive. It will be interesting to see how Jacksonville finishes the season. NFL.com may actually be able to give us a better idea of that. NFL Network’s analytics expert Cynthia Frelund projected final 2018 win totals for every NFL team.
Fruland used a model that she created, and ran simulations for each remaining NFL game 20,000 times. Here is how her model works:
“My model compares this season’s games with 15 previous seasons of situational production metrics that led to wins and losses (between 2003 and 2017). Tracking personnel, matchups, play-calling and results from past seasons establishes historical “profiles.” The results from the games that have already been played this season are then collected and analyzed in the same way, with the model revealing similarities between the current iteration of each team and its past versions. Then each remaining game is simulated. The reason every game isn’t a 50/50 coin flip is because each team has different strengths and weaknesses, and the way they match up against each other has different historical references for “what happened most often.” Because there are many different ways the situational aspect of football can play out, it’s necessary to run many simulations for each remaining game, to see each of the involved teams’ profiles stack up over a range of reasonable situations.”
So how many wins are the Jaguars projected to finish the season with? The answer, according to Frelund, is 8.6 wins. Here is what the analytics guru had to say about the team:
“Despite currently sitting in fourth place in the AFC South, the Jags still have a very strong chance of making the playoffs. Trading Dante Fowler, who generated a high percentage of pressures on passing downs despite not playing a high volume of snaps, did not significantly change their win projection. The key for the Jags is still to get off to a fast start, then rely on their elite defense to keep their offense playing from ahead.”
The 8.6 wins are the 15th projected-most in the NFL, and eighth projected-most in the AFC, which would leave the team on the outside looking in for the NFL playoffs. However, Frelund’s model gives Jacksonville a 49.9 percent chance of making the playoffs, which is actually ever-so-slightly higher than the Cincinnati Bengals at 49.8 percent (8.7 projected wins).
Looking at the AFC South, the Houston Texans are projected to finish ahead of Jacksonville with 9.3 wins and a 59.7 percent chance for the playoffs. Although, Frelund notes red zone efficiency as a major red flag for the Texans. The Tennessee Titans (6.5) and Indianapolis Colts (7.4) are both projected to finish behind Jacksonville according to this model. Though it is interesting that the Colts are projected to finish with more wins than the Titans. Fun fact: Tennessee has generated the lowest amount of big plays (what Frelund considers passes of over 20 yards and runs of more than 10 yards) in the NFL.
Unsurprisingly, the Los Angeles Rams (currently 8-0) are projected to finish with the highest number of wins with 14. Not far behind, is the Kansas City Chiefs (12.8) and the New England Patriots (11.8).
Frelund also did win total projections at the beginning of the season. Her formula originally projected 10.44 wins for the Jags this season, which was third highest in the AFC. That mark is highly unlikely to happen, but Jacksonville still has time to make a playoff push in 2018.