0-17? What are the odds Urban Meyer and the Jacksonville Jaguars go winless in 2021?

    The Jacksonville Jaguars' schedule won't get any easier when they face the Bengals on Thursday Night Football. Could they go 0-17 in 2021?

    Urban Meyer has had a choppy transition to the NFL. He’s lost each of his first three games by double digits, been fined by the NFL for too-physical OTA practices, blurted out another potential NFL/NFLPA violation regarding player vaccination statuses, and reportedly can be a pain to work for. The Jacksonville Jaguars’ schedule won’t get any easier when they face the Bengals on Thursday Night Football. Let’s take a look at the club’s rest-of-season outlook.

    When will the Jacksonville Jaguars win in 2021?

    What a perfect time for a nationally televised showcase! The Jaguars will try to avoid 0-for-September when they visit the Bengals on Thursday Night Football. Not surprisingly, the Jaguars are more than a touchdown underdog against Cincinnati.

    But here’s what should really scare Meyer and Jaguars owner Shad Khan: the schedule is only going to get harder in the months to come. After Thursday, Jacksonville’s next four contests are against teams that all won double-digit games in 2020. Yet, the Dolphins might still be without starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa when the two Florida teams meet in London in Week 6.

    The Jaguars on paper look like they do on the field: awful.

    They rank in the bottom fifth of the NFL in passing offense (211.7 yards per game), third-down offense (27.3%), time of possession (24:23), total defense (418 ypg), passing defense (302.3 ypg), yards per pass allowed (9.0), sack rate (4.0%), point differential (minus-12.7), and yards differential (-103).

    History of winless NFL teams

    Together, those numbers raise the specter of not just a bad season, but the potential for the first 17-loss season in NFL history. In the Super Bowl era, there have been just four winless teams. However, that list includes the 1982 Colts, who went 0-8-1 in a strike-shortened season. The 2008 Detroit Lions and the 2017 Cleveland Browns are the only two 0-16 teams in league history. With the NFL moving to 17 games for the first time in 2021, the Jaguars have a chance to one-up them.

    Meyer argued this week that the results don’t truly reflect the improvement the Jaguars have made, and that’s probably fair. They led the Arizona Cardinals late in the third quarter of Week 3 before an ill-advised and disastrously executed flea-flicker resulted in a lead-changing pick-six.

    “First game, nothing,” Meyer recapped. “Second game, we made it through a half that we were playing pretty well. Third game, we’re getting [there]. I’m looking for constant improvement. I’m looking for loyalty and faith in the locker room, which I have. That’s never wavered. I’m not taking anything away from the Cardinals, we played well enough, and [if] we don’t make some mistakes, we could’ve won that game.”

    Rookie QB performance isn’t helping

    Trevor Lawrence’s poor play has been a significant reason the Jaguars have sputtered. His completion percentage (54.2), yards per attempt (5.7), passer rating (60.3), and QBR (23.1) all rank in the bottom four among qualifying quarterbacks.

    Those numbers will presumably improve. But if they don’t, and the Jaguars have a historically bad season, it’s very easy to envision Meyer being one and done in the NFL.

    What are the odds the Jaguars finish with an 0-17 record?

    How likely is it that the Jaguars go 0-17?

    Not very likely. But it’s also far from impossible.

    According to game projections based on ESPN’s FPI, the Jaguars should be favored in just one of their final 14 games — a home date against the Texans in Week 15. And even in that contest, they’re just a fraction better than a coin flip.

    The Falcons, Jets, Colts, and Dolphins are all having bad years. And yet, the computers say they should all beat the Jaguars over the next three months.

    Even with that said, the NFL odds of the Jaguars losing all of these games based on this model are somewhere in the neighborhood of 1 in 300. And that makes sense. Just two out of 608 teams have gone 0-16 since the league expanded to 32 teams in 2002.

    But here’s where the math doesn’t factor in — what if Jacksonville’s locker room ultimately gives up late in the season?

    The Jaguars don’t get to the softest stretch of their schedule for another two months. How fired up — not to mention healthy — will they be for the Jets, Colts, and Jaguars if they’ve already lost 10 straight games and Meyer hasn’t tempered his temper?

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