In the words of NSync, we’re in the midst of the ‘bye, bye, bye’ week which means it’s essential to make bold and somewhat outlandish predictions for where the Jacksonville Jaguars go from here. So far, it’s been a strong start with the Jags going into the off week having won five straight games while boasting a 6-2 overall record and a comfortable cushion in the AFC South divisional race.
With that said, lots of things can happen as we enter November (and fortunately, as of now, none of it involves early draft talk). Here are nine predictions for what I think will happen over the course of the remaining nine regular season games.
1. If the Jags win against the 49ers, they’ll win the following two divisional games.
I’m convinced that if the Jags knock off the struggling San Francisco 49ers, they will also take care of business against the Tennessee Titans (at home) and the Houston Texans (on the road). That means they’ll head into the Cincinnati Bengals Monday night game with a 9-2 record having won eight straight games. I know the NFL is week-to-week and anyone can beat anyone, but when this team gets going, they go. Conversely, if the Jaguars lose against San Francisco coming off the bye, I think we’ll see a loss in one of the following two games.
2. The Jags will have a higher playoff seeding than the Chiefs.
The Kansas City Chiefs will end up with a good record and win the AFC West but will not be the #1 seed in the AFC. I’m not predicting the Jags will be the top seed, either. What am I predicting? See below...
3. The Jaguars' home games against Cincinnati and Baltimore will determine who is the top AFC team entering the playoffs.
These two home games will decide if the Jags have to play road games to get to the Super Bowl, or if the highway to Vegas in February cuts through Jacksonville (and yes, unless you’re maybe coming from Miami, it’s a very odd route to take).
I believe Baltimore, Cincy, or Jacksonville will be the top seed. Two of these teams will wind up with the same record, and the head-to-head matchup will be the determining factor of who is first overall.
4. The Browns game is going to be ugly.
The Jags offense will, in general, look much better and post bigger numbers than they did in the first half of the season.
However, the Browns game in December (worst road to travel to as a Jags fan as ranked by me) is going to be mistake-prone.
I predict this will be an unnecessary nail-biter that could look like the Jags didn’t want to get off the plane when they landed in Cleveland (and frankly, who could really blame them — it’s Cleveland).
5. The final three games of the season are going to be relatively easy.
As for the Titans, they have some talent, but QB Will Levis is going to show his age very soon. He’ll make mistakes, and while this will be the toughest of the final three games, we’ll win by more than a touchdown – unless, of course, we’re resting the starters.
6. Travon Walker is going to wind up with nine or more sacks.
We’re going to start to see why Trent Baalke believed in Travon as the first pick overall. Expect at least a couple double-digit sack games before the season is over.
7. The offense is going to come into their own.
Get ready for the rise of Calvin Ridley. More time in the system, more time with Trevor, and a healthy Zay Jones means more balls going to Ridley — especially, deeper throws his way. Zay has been great in the red zone and will help Trevor eclipse his TD numbers from last year (let’s go with 27 touchdowns for Jacksonville Jesus). The Ezra Cleveland trade will pay dividends and help with protection as well.
8. D’Ernest Johnson is going to be the go-to backup running back.
Travis Etienne isn’t going to slow down, but he’ll get more carries off thanks to D’Ernest Johnson. Look for a lot more D’Ernest in the backfield with a few alignments each game with Etienne out wide or in the slot.
9. The Jags will lock up the division on Christmas Eve.
I did some very back-of-the-napkin win-loss predictions and played out a few scenarios where both the Titans and Texans are not mathematically eliminated prior to Christmas Eve. Mind you, despite my love of Minshew Mania (I’m that guy who named one of my cats after him), the Colts will be a debacle and will be completely out of it by Week 11.
The notion the AFC South won’t be decided by December 24th is quite possible given the Jags have some tough opponents coming up including San Francisco, Cincinnati, and Baltimore – albeit all at EverBank Field.
Nonetheless, I predict the Jags will give fans the perfect present with a second straight AFC South division title after beating the Bucs a few miles down the road in Tampa.