It is hard to find many outside of Jacksonville who are high on the Jaguars' chances to field a winning football team in 2020. In fact, most national analysts figure the Jaguars to be closer to picking first overall than competing for a playoff spot.
Count ESPN's Football Power Index model as one projection that is particularly low on the Jaguars' fortunes this fall. Among all teams, ESPN's FPI has the Jaguars set to be the favorite to finish with the worst record in the NFL, which would be a first-time occurrence for the Jaguars' franchise.
"FPI is our prediction model for the NFL. Preseason ratings are based on each team's Las Vegas win total; last season's performance on offense, defense and special teams; the number of returning starters; coaching staff changes; and starting and backup quarterbacks," Seth Walder of ESPN Analytics wrote.
Walder goes on to point out that with the Jaguars being ranked so lowly on the projection model, it makes them a prime candidate to select Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence with the top overall pick in 2020.
This would be a reasonable move considering the Jaguars picking No. 1 would likely mean that head coach Doug Marrone and general manager Dave Caldwell were fired and that Gardner Minshew II struggled in his first year as the full-time starter.
The Jacksonville Jaguars are rolling the dice on Gardner Minshew II under center, and FPI is not optimistic about it. The upside for Jacksonville? It is the most likely team to land the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NFL draft, with a 23% chance," Walder wrote. "But even if the Jags don't land the top pick, there's a very good chance they'll still land a top pick. There's an 85% chance that Jacksonville, which is projected by FPI to win a league-low 4.9 games this season, is in the top 10 of next year's draft."
Overall, ESPN's model gives the Jaguars a 4% chance to make the playoffs, the lowest percentage of all teams. It also gives them a projected win total of 4.9. The Jaguars edge out a number of teams who they were better than in 2019 during their 6-10 season, with each of the five teams ranked directly above them in the FPI having picked in the top-seven in last month's draft.
27. Miami Dolphins
Projected wins: 6.2
Chance to reach playoffs: 14%
28. Detroit Lions
Projected wins: 6.6
Chance to reach playoffs: 17%
29. Carolina Panthers
Projected wins: 5.6
Chance to reach playoffs: 7%
30. Cincinnati Bengals
Projected wins: 5.6
Chance to reach playoffs: 8%
31. Washington Redskins
Projected wins: 5.5
Chance to reach playoffs: 6%
As for the rest of the AFC South, it is clear ESPN is significantly higher on the Jaguars' divisional rivals. The Houston Texans were given 7.6 projected wins and a 38% chance to reach the playoffs, while the Tennessee Titans were projected 8.4 wins and a 58% chance to make the playoffs, and the Indianapolis Colts were projected 8.6 wins and 58% chance to make the playoffs.
The Jaguars have finished with an AFC South-worst 11-21 record over the last two seasons, finishing in last place in each of the seasons. This year, Marrone and Caldwell have been given win-now mandates by owner Shad Khan, and it is clear the Jaguars will not tolerate another embarrassing losing season on the field.
Minshew's status as the team's long-term quarterback will essentially be determined by both his on-field performance and the Jaguars' overall success. If he plays well but they are still picking within the first few picks of the draft, it would be hard to foresee a new regime opting to stick with Minshew as opposed to Lawrence or Georgia's Justin Fields.