2022 Jacksonville Jaguars betting preview
We're starting at the bottom of the league with our first of 32 offseason team-by-team betting previews. Owners of the NFL's worst record (4-29) over the last two years, the Jaguars truly earned their back-to-back first overall picks, and what they did with that capital will directly impact what is a pivotal 2022.
The one big thing to be excited about in Duval County is the addition of Super Bowl-winning head coach Doug Pederson, while the stench of the Urban Meyer era slowly dissipates. That glimmer of hope has their odds in a variety of betting markets in the territory of "cautiously optimistic."
2022 season odds
|Win total||6.5 (+110/-130)|
Despite a season that would have bettors thinking "same old Jags," their prescribed win total of 6.5 this season is the same as it was before 2021 when they opened the year as 3.5-point road favorites in Week 1.
With an optimistic 6.5-game win total translating into a market power rating of 38/100, there are some short spreads late in the season if you want to sell the Jags already.
The Jaguars will have the addition-by-subtraction element of a more professional training camp run by their new head coach, but they'll also have some addition by non-subtraction with the expectation that Travis Etienne will finally play.
Lost amid Trevor Lawrence's disappointing season is that he was without his Clemson teammate. The dual-threat running back can provide easy completions for Lawrence out of the backfield or after lining up in the slot. Of course, Laviska Shenault was supposed to do that, too.
I would've preferred Jaguars ownership completely cleaned house, but GM Trent Baalke clung to his job and got to decide who the franchise drafted first overall. Jacksonville chose linebacker Travon Walker rather than getting more help on the offensive line for Lawrence. Giving a long-term extension to Cam Robinson just maintains mediocrity on Lawrence's blindside, and adding Brandon Scherff at guard will only do so much. Instead, Baalke threw around his ample cap room on unspectacular veteran pass-catchers Evan Engram and Christian Kirk.
Instead of offensive line help, the Jaguars focused on defense in the draft but spent high-end draft capital on the relatively low-leverage position of off-ball linebacker with Walker. The run defense should improve, but that's the least of most teams' worries in this era.
An uninspiring AFC North division and a fourth-place schedule that projects the Jaguars as double-digit underdogs just twice this season means there's an opportunity for them to move up in the football world.
If Lawrence can click with Pederson, and the Jaguars can improve on their first-half offense - which ranked third-worst - the defense will have a better chance to keep the team in games. In closer games, James Robinson and Etienne can have more of a positive effect, while a thin offensive line can have less of a negative effect.
The most obvious threat comes from within the Jaguars' facility. The culture of losing and mistrust throughout the organization is unlikely to be washed away in one offseason. Even after Meyer was ousted, it's not like Lawrence came alive. In a way, Lawrence may have found the same thing that Meyer did: Winning when you're not surrounded by superior talent compared to your opposition is considerably more difficult.
How to bet the Jaguars
Usually, with a bad team, you can pinpoint a first-year player for Rookie of the Year, but with Lawrence's first season burned and Walker unlikely to rack up stats or jump off the screen, there's nothing there. No one is likely to put a scare in any statistical lead, so the most optimistic pro-Jaguars bet might be Etienne (+1600) to win Comeback Player of the Year if he can show his Clemson form.
If the Jaguars surpass their 6.5-game win total, the credit will be given to Pederson, who is 20-1 to win Coach of the Year. That's probably worth a look if you think the Jags have something of a rebirth season - and perhaps even if you don't. If you're betting on things to go right for Jacksonville, bet long-odds results at a low cost.
It's more likely they continue to have trouble protecting Lawrence, leaving him open to injury or general panic in the pocket. There are no answers on the depth chart should anything go awry, so the safest bet is under 6.5 wins. Even a five- or six-win season could be construed as a step in the right direction after four total victories between 2020-21.
Matt Russell is a betting writer for theScore. If there's a bad beat to be had, Matt will find it. Find him on Twitter @mrussauthentic.