The Jacksonville Jaguars were one play away from the Super Bowl last year if Blake Bortles makes one throw. Regardless of how you view the Jags and their uncertainty, one thing is undeniable, they have the best defense in the league. It's a group that was second in the NFL in taking the ball away last season, so their chances of repeating as AFC South champions is very high. The other teams in their division cannot say the same.
A lot of so-called analysts have predicted a huge drop off for the Jaguars this season on both sides of the ball. It's a debate that can begin to get answered on September 9th as the season opens when the New York Giants host the Jaguars. This game will answer a lot of questions and the biggest one is if the Jaguars defense can be as dominant as it was last year?
The Giants are ready for the debut of rookie running back Saquon Barkley, who is perhaps the highest rated rookie back since Adrian Peterson. A revamped offensive line for Eli Manning will be on display and the Giants have a trio of receiving threats in Odell Beckham Jr, Sterling Shepard, and Even Engram. There are weapons everywhere for New York's offense and if the Jaguars can keep that offense in check, the NFL is in trouble.
On the opposite side of the ball, the Giants defense, which was ranked top 10 two years ago, but had fallen off, added depth everywhere. They will be facing a Bortles led offense without any significant receivers with Marqise Lee becoming the latest casualty. Jacksonville will be without their top three receivers from last year and down a tight end. Leonard Fournette is an All-Pro in the backfield, but when the Giants inevitably stack the box to stop him, how will Bortles and the offense react?
No one is sure how the Jaguars will put up points this year and it's a question we'll find the answer to as the season kicks off this week in New York. The opportunity is there to prove everyone wrong starting this week.
The Jacksonville Jaguars' strengths and weaknesses will be tested against the Giants. The season can't be defined in week one, but we might get a glimpse of what's to come.
My prediction: Giants 17 Jaguars 6