Let’s be real. Jacksonville Jaguars fans are not in it for the glory. If that was the case, they must be gluttons for punishment since there hadn’t been any prior to last season. But the fans still came to games. Why?
Well, it wasn’t for the quality of the product on the field, so we can only assume it was because of one thing—football is fun. Games are fun; they are fun to watch at the bar, at home, or live in the stadium. There is just something about the atmosphere that is created by an NFL game.
No one knows that more than the Jacksonville Jaguars. Heck, they have poolside cabanas in the stadium! You don’t hang out in a cabana or lounge around in a pool to watch a football game to watch football games. But you can at EverBank Field.
Why? Easy– because the franchise wants to make the game day experience as awesome as possible. It doesn’t get much better than hanging out in a pool while watching your team win—which is what the Jaguars do now. They don’t just play games and take their beatings anymore.
Now they give the beatings.
After a run to the AFC Championship game that had the team dangerously close to playing in the Super Bowl, fans have to be wondering. Will they be partying in the cabana next season because partying in cabanas is awesome?
Or will they be partying in the cabana because their team is bound for Super Bowl glory?
The odds makers seem to think they have a chance. According to Betway.com, the odds the Jaguars win the Super Bowl this season are 1:22 (as of May 23). The Houston Texans and Atlanta Falcons have the same odds. But two teams that didn’t make the playoffs last year, the Los Angeles Chargers (1:20) and San Francisco 49ers, have better ones (1:19).
Wow. For a team that nearly beat the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship last season, you’d think they’d get a little more respect than that.
Why aren’t they?
It could be because it is going to be a lot tougher to win their division this time around. A dominate as they played at times in 2017, they barely won the division. They were 10-6 while the Tennessee Titans, who beat them twice, were 9-7.
Indianapolis will be tougher, assuming Andrew Luck comes back. Houston will not be too easy to beat either if their injured superstars can stay healthy this coming season.
An argument could also be made that they could have easily finished 8-8. Two of their wins came by less than a touchdown. However, to be fair, they could have finished 13-3 using that logic (three losses were by less than a touchdown).
Again, to be fair, a case could be made for most teams being better or worse than they were last season. But why should or shouldn’t fans have hope for the 2018 season?
Well—fans can go ahead and make their party plans but hold off on calling it a Super Bowl bash for the time being.
That is not to say the Jaguars are going to flop next season. But with the moves that were made in the off-season, it is hard to see them being better. In fact, they probably gave some ground.
It’s not hard to understand why they resigned Blake Bortles, but at the same time, it’s hard to get excited about him being the quarterback. They certainly didn’t do him any favors by getting rid of his veteran wide receivers (Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns). Yes, the young guys looked decent at times last season, but with a guy like Bortles behind center, you should make his job easier, not harder.
The running game should still be one of the best in the NFL even if Doug Marrone doesn’t want to lead the league in rushing again. He’ll learn soon enough that the team will need to continue to lean on its running game. The only way they will not have to is if Dede Westbrook and rookie DJ Chalk explode and become the next dynamic duo.
Jacksonville will be good enough to compete in their division. But with the potential that Houston and Tennessee have, it’s hard to say they’ll repeat as division champs. It is, however, easier to see them winning a wild-card spot.
That will mean having a much tougher road to the Super Bowl this time around. They had a tough road last season and played pretty well, but this time everyone sees them coming.