Why the Jacksonville Jaguars will finish at least 8-8 this year

Schedule, roster, and the staff all will factor in to whether the Jacksonville Jaguars can turn the team around.

The 2017-18 NFL opponents for each team came out about a month ago, some schedules a lot harder then others. Although the draft and free agency hasn’t started and the teams are not close to set, I can’t help but think that the Jacksonville Jaguars will finish 8-8 or above.

Schedule

The schedule looks more than manageable for an up-and-coming, young Jaguars team. Seven of the 13 opponents the Jaguars face finished 2016 with a losing record. Six out of the Nine teams, not including the Jaguars, are picking inside the top-10 of the 2017 NFL Draft. The Cleveland Browns, Los Angeles Rams, San Francisco 49ers, Arizona Cardinals, Cincinnati Bengals, and Los  Angeles Chargers all play the Jaguars next year. On top of that, playing the Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts twice a year won’t be much of a problem. For the Texans, they have to figure out their quarterback situation and the Colts, outside of Andrew Luck, are an untalented team. There are a few games that are challenging, such as a home game against the Seattle Seahawks, a game in London against the Baltimore Ravens, and an away game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. If the Jaguars can squeak out a win against these three teams, their chances of exceeding .500 will increase.

Roster

Although the draft is still a few months away and free agency has not yet started, the Jaguars will definitely have a young, talented core to work with. On defense, Yannick Ngakoue and Malik Jackson are players to build around on the defensive line. At linebacker, Telvin Smith continues to improve every year and looks like an eventual pro bowler. Myles Jack, thought to be the biggest steal of the 2016 NFL draft, also a very talented linebacker, will be looking to get a lot more playing time under new head coach Doug Marrone. In the secondary, Jalen Ramsey already looks like a lock-down corner to build the defense around.

On the other side of the ball, the Jaguars have a great young trio of receivers in the Allens and Marqise Lee, while tight end Julius Thomas, if he stays, is always a receiving threat. The offensive line and running back position will be improved with the draft and free agency, as well as running backs Chris Ivory and T.J. Yeldon getting to full strength. With all this said, the offense relies on Blake Bortles. If he fixes his mechanics and becomes even a mediocre, mid-tier quarterback, the sky is the limit for this team.

Staff

Coaching and decisions made for the franchise this offseason will be a big factor on the Jaguars’ success next year. The Jaguars have around 64 million dollars in cap space, before even cutting players such as Dan Skuta and Jared Odrick. Tom Coughlin will guide general manager Dave Caldwell and Marrone in to making smart decisions for the franchise, including the draft.

With an improved roster, updated coaching staff, and a favorable schedule, the Jaguars should definitely finish with at least 8 wins. Blake Bortles will need to progress, but with a young, talented, well-coached team, this team could be playing in to January next year.

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