Can 2018 Jacksonville Jaguars Win With Bortles?

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TwinSpires Staff

August 8th, 2018

The Jacksonville Jaguars squandered a 10-point lead in last season’s AFC Championship eventually losing to the New England Patriots. Although that would disappoint most teams, it’s emboldened the 2018 Jacksonville Jaguars. Any step backward would make for a disappointing season. Does Jacksonville have what it takes to kick down the door this season and actually make it to the Super Bowl? Or, will the Jags regress into the traditionally bad team that they’ve always been? Are they a solid play in NFL betting? As usual, that all depends on the quarterback the team mysteriously extended this off-season.

Can Blake Bortles really lead a team to the Super Bowl? The biggest question in Jacksonville surrounds starting quarterback Blake Bortles, who's been maligned for much of his career. In fact, at the beginning and end of the 2017 season, many expected the Jaguars to finally cut bait with their franchise quarterback. There’s no such chatter about the Jags’ starting quarterback before this season. The franchise handed Bortles a three-year extension worth $54 million.

Bortles played very well last season. Why? The Jaguars leaned on a rushing attack that featured Leonard Fournette. Fournette dominated opposing defenses. He’s a bear to handle in between the tackles. When he gets loose on the edge, he can take it to the house. With the arrival of the former LSU standout, the Jacksonville Jaguars were the top rushing team in the league with 141.3 yards per game on the ground.

Although the Jaguars were ecstatic at how adding Fournette to the offense improved Bortles’ play, they didn’t settle this off season. Jacksonville handed a huge contract to guard Andrew Norvell, who's proven his excellence. Norvell should allow the Jaguars line to be more effective at both opening holes for Fournette as well as preventing defenses from pushing the line backwards into Bortles.

Bortles’ receiving targets also saw an upgrade. TE Austin Sefarian-Jenkins caught 50 passes with the Jets last season. He should produce alongside young wide-receivers Dede Westbrook and Keelan Cole. Both pass catchers could have incredible seasons while the consistent Donte Moncrief will prove to be a reliable security blanket.

Jacksonville’s D will be the best in the NFL Jacksonville’s defense was awesome last season, but it allowed too many rushing yards with 116.3 surrendered on average. That’s why Myles Jack will move to middle linebacker. Jack can play sideline to sideline. More importantly, he’ll be counted on to shoot the gaps if Marcel Dareus and Malik Jackson end up forced from their positions.

The ends, Yannick Ngakoue and Calais Campbell, are fantastic. None of those players mentioned so far are the best player on Jacksonville’s defense. That mantle belongs squarely to Jalen Ramsey. The All-Pro corner can play any position in the secondary. He’s now the best cover corner in the NFL, which means it will be impossible for opposing offenses to throw to Ramsey’s side, which is just the way he likes it.

Jaguars could be Super Bowl LIII bound The 2018 Jacksonville Jaguars figure to get off to a hot start. Three of their first 4 games, including a Week 2 rematch with the Patriots, are at home. The lone road game is in Week 1 versus the New York Giants.

There’s a good chance the Jaguars are 8-0 SU before their bye in Week 9. Their only road games during that stretch include visits to the Giants,  Kansas City, and Dallas. Those are are all winnable. Jacksonville’s defense has the ability to shut down any offense it faces and all of those teams have question marks.

The Jaguars finished 10-6 SU last season. They sure look like a 12-4 SU team this season even with Tennessee making bold moves and the Texans healthy at the onset. It sounds crazy, but the 2018 Jacksonville Jaguars could be Super Bowl bound due to improvements on the offensive side of the ball. At the center of their successes and failures will be Blake Bortles as usual. Imagine reading that two seasons ago!