The Jaguars run away victory against the Houston Texans in week one has set up the team with a rare early season opportunity to put themselves in control at the top of the AFC South.
Last Sunday they knocked off the defending division champs and this Sunday they get to play their most hated rival, the Tennessee Titans, in the Jaguars home opener. The Jaguars haven’t started a season at 2-0 since 2006, but this would clearly be even bigger than just getting off to the fastest start in over a decade. It would be a 2-0 start with both wins coming against the two divisional opponents that were most often picked to win the AFC South after months of stressing how important the first two games were going to be.
The Jaguars defense got off to a near perfect start against an overmatched Houston offense. They set a franchise record with ten sacks in a game and forced four Texans turnovers after only forcing thirteen turnovers over the course of the entire season last year.
What do those kind of numbers mean historically?
I played around with the sack numbers a little bit because the Jaguars are only the second team in NFL history to open the season with a ten sack performance with a plus four turnover differential, the other being the 1998 Kansas City Chiefs who wound up at just 7-9. I expanded the criteria by dropping the sacks number to four with a plus four turnover differential and found these numbers.
Before this season a team has opened the season with five or more sacks and that turnover differential just 18 times. 10 of those 18 teams made the playoffs while winning nearly 60 percent of their games. Those teams have combined to win four playoff games and two championships (both championships were won by the Green Bay Packers, once in 1962 and the other in 1965). The last team to make the playoffs after that kind of start was the 2009 Philadelphia Eagles who finished second in the NFC East and lost a Wild Card game against the Dallas Cowboys.
After looking at the numbers as a bit of a history lesson I learned this: If you think that dominating an opponent in the season opener the way the Jaguars did the Texans is a major indicator of success I think you are just as likely to be wrong as you are to be right.
Those teams have only made the playoffs about half of the time. Six of those eighteen teams have finished with a losing record.
Here’s what I do know. The Jaguars have a major opportunity on Sunday. I haven’t had a chance to look at how those other teams divisions stacked up against this years AFC South. A division with a seemingly lousy Indianapolis Colts team, a Texans team with major questions on the offensive line and quarterback and a Titans team that could be 0-2 with a head to head loss to the 2-0 division leading Jaguars in just a few days.