The Jacksonville Jaguars were one bad quarter of football away from winning the AFC Championship just six months ago. Now they’re almost tied with the Indianapolis Colts and Tennessee Titans in their odds of winning the AFC South, according to Pro Football Focus.
Based on their PFFELO Power Rankings (which weights how well a team played against an opponent compared to how well they should have played), Pro Football Focus listed the chances of each team of winning their respective division — with the Jaguars coming out as the favorites for the AFC South, but not by a lot.
Total Wins: Jacksonville 8.10 (over/under 9), Tennessee 7.7 (O/U 8), Indianapolis 7.7 (O/U 6.5), Houston 7.3 (O/U 8.5)
Probability of winning the division: JAX 31.7% (+ 175), IND 25.1% (+ 550), TEN 24.4% (+ 300), HOU 18.8% (+ 200)
Probability of making playoffs: JAX 42.4%, IND 34.9%, TEN 34.5%, HOU 27.0%
Probability of winning the Super Bowl: JAX 2.3% (+ 2000), IND 1.7% (+ 6600), TEN 1.4% (+ 4000), HOU 0.9% (+ 2000)
With almost a one-in-three chance, we have the Jaguars repeating as division champions for the first time since the turn of the century (when they played in the AFC Central). Indianapolis is buoyed by the return of a quarterback who, when kept clean in 2016, generated the fifth-best passer rating in the NFL (112.0) and earned the second-highest grade behind only Tom Brady, while Tennessee is hoping that a reversion from “exotic smashmouth” allows the skills of Marcus Mariota to shine in his fourth year. Houston’s hoping that the return of Watson and J.J. Watt build on the promise of the young quarterback’s first six starts. We’re a little less optimistic on each front, especially when considering the question marks in the secondary (ranked 25th in our preseason unit rankings).
A few things, if I may...
First, the Jaguars shouldn’t be the runaway favorite to win the division, but giving them less than a one-in-three chance to win it is a bit of a stretch. This is a team with a marginally better roster than at this point last year and arguably one of the best coaching staffs in football.
Second, the Colts should not be the second-favorite. Andrew Luck hasn’t thrown a football in a game for 20 months and that roster is awful top to bottom with few exceptions.
Third, the Titans are a better team than Pro Football Focus is giving them credit for. I like both of their offensive and defensive lines and their run game will open things up for Mariota.
What do you think? Am I overstating the Jaguars’ chances? Let us know in the comment section!