The Jacksonville Jaguars are going to look considerably different in 2021 ... but just much better of a team is different going to make them?
This is the question the Jaguars will have to ask themselves this offseason. While there is a considerable amount of excitement both internally and externally surrounding the Jaguars as a franchise, they still have to actually prove it on the gridiron.
But there is a reason for the hype. While new head coach Urban Meyer has zero NFL experience, he is one of the most prolific coaches in the entire sport over the last two decades. Then there is Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who is widely expected to be drafted by the Jaguars with the first overall pick on April 29.
Do these two additions, plus four other picks in the top-65 and 12 new additions on the first week of free agency mean anything in the eyes of oddsmakers when it comes to the Jaguars?
The answer, as of now, is both yes or no.
"According to the Covers Line, which aggregates the odds from the biggest and best legitimate sportsbook in the country, the Jacksonville Jaguars’ odds of going all the way this year are +7,000," according to Covers.com.
According to Covers, this makes the Jaguars just the 27th likeliest team to win the Super Bowl in 2021. This isn't overly surprising considering it will be Meyer's first year in the NFL, they will be starting a rookie quarterback, and they are just a few months away from the worst season in franchise history.
But while coming in at No. 27 in terms of odds to be the NFL's top team in 2021 isn't overwhelmingly positive, it does show the Jaguars are at least trending in the right direction in the eyes of sportsbooks. Compared to this time last year, the Jaguars are already much better off in the eyes of oddsmakers, likely in large part due to the upgrade at quarterback from Gardner Minshew II to Lawrence.
According to Covers, the Jaguars had +50,000 odds to win the Super Bowl at last year's preseason point. These odds were over five times less likely than they are for 2021, a direct reflection of the Jaguars' stock rising in the minds of outside observers, even if it won't be a rapid, one-year climb to the top.
The Jaguars' odds of winning the AFC Championship last year? +25,000, according to Covers. Now, it is just +3,300. Still a significant figure that shows how improbable it is for the Jaguars to win in 2021, but a figure that shows the steps the Jaguars are taking to move away from their 1-15 failure in 2020.
"The Jags may not be among the favorites for the conference or for the Super Bowl, but there is cause for optimism moving forward given the significant improvement from last year’s odds," Covers Public Relations Manager Pete Watt said.
“With first pick in the draft this year, if Jacksonville can bring in a strong rookie class and start the season strong, then these odds will certainly begin to tumble.”
It will be largely up to Meyer and Lawrence to personally turn the Jaguars around on and off the field. The Jaguars have earned a distinct lack of respect to this point considering they have just one winning season under owner Shad Khan and are 12-36 in the last three seasons.
But Meyer was hired to change that perception, and Lawrence will be drafted to lead them on the field and generate the priceless wins that have long avoided Jacksonville. Only time will tell if the Jaguars become contenders under Meyer's leadership and Lawrence's play, but it at least appears now that the Jaguars have earned some believers.