The Jacksonville Jaguars are favorites to bottom out as either the 31st or 32nd team in the NFL this year — depending on how much the Oakland Raiders stink — and favorites for not much else heading into the 2013 season. New Coach Gus Bradley brings an astute defensive mind and a proven plan for success from Seattle, but this coming campaign is expected by many to amount to little more than a tryout for the 2014 roster.
However, in the NFL parity reigns and anything can happen in a 16-game regular season, so starting it with another team undergoing massive changes could put Jacksonville off to a pleasantly surprising start. I wouldn’t bet on Jacksonville pulling the upset over the Kansas City Chiefs, though it’s certainly in the realm of realistic possibility.
Week 1 Spread: Jaguars 3-point underdogs vs. Chiefs
Jaguars Breakdown and Preseason Effect: Outside of the tackle spot occupied by Eugene Monroe and No. 2 overall selection Luke Joeckel, it’s hard to get excited about any individual position performing at a top-five level. Maurice Jones-Drew could certainly return to form, though his injury struggles last year and the absurd workload of the past few years always cause worry with running backs in this day and age.
The secondary should be intriguing if not so great in 2013. Jonathan Cyprien (second round), Dwayne Gratz (3rd), Josh Evans (6th) and other rookies create what could be a nice base for the future, but expecting this unit too instantly gel and play at a high pro level is a bit much.
The best chance Jacksonville has to win hosting the Chiefs in Week 1 is if Denard Robinson breaks a couple big plays, Jason Babin wreaks havoc on often-sacked Alex Smith and the winner of the Blaine Gabbert-Chad Henne preseason quarterback battle plays nothing like we’re used to seeing form them. KC has a new head coach in Andy Reid and quarterback in Smith, so maybe their relationship has growing pains early.
If not, Jacksonville’s in for a long September afternoon.