Welcome to Big Cat Country’s weekly roundtable, where our staff previews each Jacksonville Jaguars game and makes picks for each NFL game. The Jaguars are favored by 6.5 points against the Carolina Panthers in Week 17, according to DraftKings Sportsbook.
It’s become clear that Jacksonville doesn’t have a roster capable of contention. As an armchair general manager, what would be the first area you address in the offseason?
Dillon Appleman: My first move would be keeping our 2024 second-round pick by not re-signing Calvin Ridley this offseason. His play has been too up and down, and he and Trevor just haven’t been able to stay on the same page all year. I would then reunite Trevor with his old college teammate, Tee Higgins, by signing him instead this offseason.
Justin Cross: I prefer high-top chair manager because it’s where most of my strong roster opinions really originate from (along with a hoppy IPA). But seriously, it has to start with the offensive line. I know it’s an obvious one, but running Travis Etienne six times against Tampa Bay is a choice. And as bad as the playing calling has been throughout this year, it’s a choice that’s hard to argue with when you see how bad the run blocking has been. Luke Fortner has been terrible. Brandon Scherff has been whatever. The left side has been a revolving door — both in the sense of who has played left tackle and left guard, and in how they’ve allowed opposing defensive linemen to sack Trevor and stop Travis behind the line of scrimmage. Besides Anton Harrison, the 2023 Jaguars’ offensive line has been flaming hot garbage. I’m tired of having such a soft o-line that can’t push people around and has gotten Trevor battered and bruised all year long. In the words of the late great Olivia Newton-John, “let’s get physical” up front.
Joseph Henry: The first thing I’d do is lock down a new deal with Josh Allen. Yes, he’s going to be expensive, but I believe it would be extremely foolish to let that much talent and production walk out the front door. Beyond that, I’m hitting the offensive line free agent market hard. Some pieces of this current unit are promising, but ideally, it needs a massive overhaul.
Travis Holmes: As an armchair general manager of the current Jaguars roster can I fire myself? I mean, the current issues in the interior offensive line, the defensive front, and the still present question marks at linebacker (Lloyd/Muma) after the significant resources poured into each position deserve massive scrutiny from ownership. As an immediate move, drafting or signing competition at center plus at least one offensive guard have to be the primary additions for me, if Shad doesn’t can me before the draft.
Gus Logue: Upgrading the trenches has to be priority No. 1 this offseason. The Jaguars are pushed around on both sides of the ball; adding physicality to the interior would go a long way toward helping the rest of the offense/defense. I also wouldn’t be surprised if Jacksonville moved on from either of its current line coaches.
Henry Zimmer: I think the first area that has to be addressed is the offensive line. The team has the skill players and a quarterback it needs to contend, or at least compete. But all of that goes by the wayside when they can’t protect up front. Luke Fortner just is not the guy of the future at center, so his replacement needs to be found either in the draft or on the market, or even both. Brandon Scherff’s long-term health is a concern, and his replacement needs to be found as well. While Scherff is a great locker room guy, even he has to know that his body is not what it used to be. Walker Little, Ezra Cleveland, and Anton Harrison are all fine in their respective positions (when healthy) so adding depth to that unit can only stand to be a good move for the future.
How do you expect the Jaguars’ season to end?
Dillon: It feels like this team has lost all confidence at this point, so I think it is unlikely we will see any sort of drastic turnaround in these final two games. I think the most likely scenario is they split the final two games which would put their fate in the hands of the Colts and the Texans.
Justin: I think we beat Carolina (barely) and lose to Tennessee. The Titans will get their revenge on us from last year and knock us out of the playoffs. Gardner Minshew will also get his revenge and lead the Colts to the AFC South title. I hope I’m wrong. I hope we win both games, get hot, and Lawrence Magic ensues. However, I’ve hoped for that for the last few weeks, and they just seem to look more and more lost. A missed field goal. A fumble. A wrong route and an interception. One or two things go wrong, and it all snowballs. The defense can’t stop, won’t stop — any opposing quarterback from driving the field on us. These final two regular season games should be convincing wins, but I don’t think we’ll do it. If I’m right, significant changes need to happen over at Everbank Stadium (aka The Sadness Factory).
Joseph: As crazy as it sounds, I think the Jaguars will still win the AFC South. The intensity has to be turned up in that locker room right now, and I think we will see real urgency on the field Sunday against Carolina. The Titans game will be a coin flip, but tie-breakers over the Colts and Texans still give Jacksonville some help even if they pick up another loss. As for the playoffs, I always believe that once you’re in the dance anything can happen. However, if a team like Cleveland, Buffalo or Baltimore was coming to town, I’d have very little confidence for a victory on Wild Card weekend.
Travis: I expect the Jaguars to make the playoffs this season for sure. However, I still question whether or not the team can right the ship and win the AFC South in the next two weeks. Similar to the 2022 season, I think the ACF South crown comes down to the final game versus Tennessee. But in this multi-verse, the Titans just might come out on top, making Jacksonville a wildcard team. Nevertheless, this just doesn’t look to be a playoff roster and at best is a one-and-done team in the post-season.
Gus: If Trevor Lawrence starts this week, I think the Jaguars will eke out wins over both Carolina and Tennessee before falling in the first round of the playoffs. If Lawrence isn’t able to go on Sunday, I’d expect two more losses to close the season, which could be enough to prompt an offseason power struggle.
Henry: I think the Jags win out and backdoor their way to the playoffs. You simply cannot lose to the Panthers and they should be able to beat whoever the Titans throw out at quarterback. They likely will get blown out once in the playoffs, but at least they will be there in two straight seasons. Maybe simply winning the AFC South and just making it to the playoffs should have been the goal all along. Set the standard over the course of a couple of seasons and then go from there. The Jags are in that stage where they are a year away from being a year away. Hanging back-to-back banners helps move that process along, and I think they will be able to do that by season’s end.
Final score prediction?
Dillon: Jaguars 21, Panthers 16
Justin: Jaguars 24, Panthers 20
Joseph: Jaguars 24, Panthers 20
Travis: Jaguars 23, Panthers 17
Gus: Jaguars 24, Panthers 21
Henry: Jaguars 21, Panthers 10
Here are our staff’s Tallysight picks for the full slate of games this week.
What are your Week 17 predictions, Jaguars fans? Let us know in the comments!