Jaguars shock the league in ESPN’s 2021 NFL season simulation

·2 min read

Actual football games are played on the field, not using computer software. This obvious statement is a necessary disclaimer for what is about to be said. However, analytics and simulations can give us a good idea of what to expect when those games do happen, and if ESPN’s 2021 NFL season simulation ends up being even close to accurate, Jags fans will rejoice.

It predicts a blazing hot start to the season in which the Jaguars win four of their first five games, tying with the Cleveland Browns for the second-best AFC record after Week 5. That stretch includes a 31-14 victory over the rival Tennessee Titans.

After starting 6-2, the simulation predicts that the Jaguars fall back down to Earth a bit, dropping their next three games and eventually finishing the season at 9-8, behind the 13-4 Colts in the AFC South. However, in this simulation, that’s enough to snag a wildcard spot.

After getting shut out by Indianapolis in Week 10, the simulation has the Jaguars getting another shot at the Colts in the wildcard round, in which they upset the division champs 23-17 and move on to the divisional round.

Unfortunately, that’s where Jacksonville’s story ends in this simulation with a 31-14 loss to the Buffalo Bills. Still, if this played out, it would be a resounding success for coach Urban Meyer and quarterback Trevor Lawrence.

To be clear, expecting the Jaguars to compete for a playoff spot in Year 1 is a bit ambitious. But within a division that could struggle in 2021, it’s not exactly an impossibility. Ultimately, if the team is even close to the winning record predicted here, it would be a clear sign that it is on its way to contention.