Over the last two seasons, the Jacksonville Jaguars went 4-29. They've had the worst record in the NFL in back-to-back seasons. There's no place for this franchise to go but up.
After drafting Trevor Lawrence with the first overall pick in 2021, hopes were high for the Jaguars. Lawrence was considered by most as the best quarterback prospect to come out of college since Andrew Luck. Joining Lawrence in Jacksonville for his rookie season was Urban Meyer. Meyer is one of the most successful college coaches of all time and there was hope he'd be able to replicate that success in the NFL.
However, it didn't work out that way. By all accounts, the Meyer hiring was a failure of epic proportions with plenty of stories coming out during his tenure that didn't seem real. Skipping team flights to party with college kids in Ohio and allegedly kicking his kicker were just some of the reports. Unsurprisingly, Meyer didn't make it the entire season. Jacksonville finished dead last again in 2021.
Armed with another No. 1 overall pick in Travon Walker now on the roster, there is hope once again for the Jaguars entering the 2022 season. Doug Pederson was hired, and the former Super Bowl-winning coach should bring some much needed stability to help develop this team, and especially their prized young quarterback.
Jacksonville should be better, but it's almost impossible for them to be worse. Yahoo's Frank Schwab ranked them 29th in his preseason power rankings. While that's an improvement, it's not very good. The betting market shares a similar view of the Jaguars entering the season.
Jacksonville expected to improve, but still be bad
The Jacksonville Jaguars enter the 2022 season with a projected win total of 6.5 games. On one hand, it's tied for the biggest projected improvement from last season. The total of 6.5 wins is 3.5 games more than they won last year. Denver, Detroit and the New York Giants are the only other teams projected to improve their win total by that amount.
However, 6.5 wins is still a low number. It's one of the lowest numbers in the league. Only four teams have lower win totals listed for the upcoming season: Atlanta (4.5), Houston (4.5), Seattle (5.5) and the New York Jets (5.5).
Bettors don't exactly believe in the Jaguars either. As of last week at BetMGM, 66% of bets and 84% of the money wagered was backing Jacksonville to go under 6.5 wins. The Jaguars' schedule ranks middle of the pack, as Warren Sharp has them with the 12th-easiest strength of schedule. A lot of bad teams get the advantage of an easy schedule, and that's not really the case with the Jaguars.
In the loaded AFC, it's no surprise to see Jacksonville as an extreme long shot to even make the playoffs. They are -650 favorites to miss the playoffs. Those odds imply Jacksonville misses the playoffs 86.7% of the time.
If you trust the betting odds, you might as well pencil the Jaguars into third place in the AFC South. They are -125 favorites to finish third. The Jaguars are +750 to win the division. Those odds put them way behind the Colts (-120) and Titans (+150) to finish atop the circuit. On a positive note, the betting market thinks higher of the Jaguars than the Texans. Houston is 25-to-1 to win the division and a -500 favorite to finish in fourth place.
The Jaguars are 125-to-1 to win the Super Bowl this upcoming season, which is tied for the fourth-worst odds in the league. They are ahead of only the Texans, Falcons and Seahawks. At 125-to-1, the Jaguars have the same odds as the Lions, Jets and Panthers. The Bengals entered last season with 125-to-1 odds to win it all, and they made it to the Super Bowl. The Jaguars will hope to replicate that magic.
Jacksonville is 66-to-1 to win the AFC, tied for the second-worst odds with the Jets. Houston is the only team with worse odds.
Jaguars awards and player props
What does the betting market think of some of Jacksonville's key players and coaches for the upcoming season?
Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson won the NFL MVP is their second year in the league, and Trevor Lawrence certainly has the pedigree and potential to be one of the very best quarterbacks in the league. Despite that, the second-year Jaguars' quarterback is a sizable long shot to win MVP. Lawrence is 80-to-1 to win NFL MVP in 2022. Those are the same odds as Baker Mayfield, Mitch Trubisky, Carson Wentz and Justin Fields. While Lawrence is certainly a lottery ticket bet, he does have a higher ceiling than those players with the same odds as him.
Lawrence is 30-to-1 to lead the league in passing yards in 2022. That's tied with five other quarterbacks for the 13th-best odds. Lawrence is 66-to-1 to lead the league in passing touchdowns, tied with five other quarterbacks for the 21st-best odds. According to the betting odds, he's much more likely to lead the league in interceptions. At 10-to-1, Lawrence has the third-best odds in that category, trailing only Zach Wilson and Davis Mills.
Oddsmakers are projecting a sizable jump from Lawrence from a statistical point of view. His over/under for passing yards is set at 3999.5 yards, 358.5 yards more than he finished with last season. He's projected to throw 22.5 touchdowns, almost double the 12 he threw in his rookie season.
Despite being the first overall pick of this past NFL draft, Travon Walker is not the betting favorite to win defensive rookie of the year. Walker is +650 to win the award, the third-best odds behind fellow pass-rushers Aidan Hutchinson of the Lions and Kayvon Thibodeaux of the Giants.
When the Jaguars selected Walker, it was always acknowledged he might not be as polished as some other players in the draft. He has the talent and athletic ability, but it might take him a little longer to put it together. Despite that, the draft capital is high and he's amongst the favorites to win the award.
Doug Pederson enters the 2022 season with 16-to-1 odds to win NFL coach of the year. Those odds are tied for fourth best behind only Dan Campbell (Lions), Brian Daboll (Giants) and Kevin O'Connell (Vikings). Pederson took the year off from coaching last season after the Eagles parted ways with him following the 2020 season. In Philadelphia, Pederson won a Super Bowl with Nick Foles and helped develop Carson Wentz into a MVP-level quarterback for a brief time. If he develops Lawrence and the Jaguars win some games, Pederson will get a lot of credit. He also has the benefit of following Urban Meyer, so he can't possibly be worse.
Other Jaguars players
Travis Etienne is 30-to-1 to win comeback player of the year after missing his entire rookie season due to injury. Those odds are tied with Chris Godwin for 15th best. His over/under for rushing yards this upcoming season is set at 699.5 yards.
Handsomely paid new No. 1 receiver Christian Kirk is 66-to-1 to lead the league in receiving yards. Those are tied for the 33rd best odds. His over/under is set at 68.5 receptions and 824.5 receiving yards.
Jaguars an underdog in Week 1
Jacksonville opens the 2022 season on the road in the nation's capital, where the Jaguars are a 3.5-point underdog against the Washington Commanders.
Carson Wentz will be playing his first game with his new team, and he'll be going up against his old coach in Doug Pederson, who will be coaching his first game with his new team.
I'd consider Washington a slightly better team than Jacksonville and with the home-field advantage for Washington, the 3.5-point spread seems about right. Nonetheless, I could be talked into Jacksonville. Washington isn't anything special, and 3.5 points is a good number to have in your pocket.
I'm not making this bet in July, but when adrenaline is through the roof and I'm in a football frenzy in early September, I can see myself being on the Jaguars as an underdog.