Jacksonville Jaguars: Are they AFC South contenders or just pretenders?

HOUSTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 10: Tom Savage /

The Jacksonville Jaguars defeated the Houston Texans 29-7.  But is this a coming out party to contention or did the Jags just catch the Texans when they were down?

The Jacksonville Jaguars had a job to do in week one and that’s to beat the Houston Texans.  I’m sure they empathized with the Texans but It’s not the Jaguars problem that the Texans are distracted due to the events of Hurricane Harvey.

It’s understandable that the Texans wouldn’t be up for this game.  The trials of life are  bigger priorities than football.  However, the games must still be played and the Jacksonville Jaguars took full advantage by getting a rare AFC South win on the road.

The question is, can the Jaguars use this win to catapult themselves to the top of the division?  It’s a long season but the window of opportunity is wide open.  The Texans are dealing with Hurricane Harvey, the Indianapolis Colts are without Andrew luck.

The Tennessee Titans lost to the Oakland Raiders in week 1. However, they are still ready to make a run at the division title.  The Jags win over the Texans is something tangible to build.  But it could also be a  temporary anomaly that will correct itself when the Texans can focus on football again.

There’s still questions at quarterback with Blake Bortles.  But it’s clear from the Jaguars 39 run attempts to just 21 passes, that they are going be a smash-mouth running team with Leonard Fournette and limit Bortles chances to fail.

This is a good plan, because the Jacksonville Jaguars just lost their top wide receiver in Allen Robinson for the season with an ACL injury.  So having a good running game is even more important now as the season progresses.

However, the most important reason the Jaguars have a shot at contending for the AFC South title is their defense.   The Jaguars defense was good last year and they are seeing that trend continue into 2017.

More from With the First Pick

Ten sacks on Houston Texans quarterbacks Tom Savage and Deshaun Watson and forcing 4 turnovers displays the dominance the Jags defense displayed.  Calais Campbell had 4 of the 10 sacks  and linebacker Myles Jack had an impressive 14 tackles.

I think the Texans will bounce back once they’re able to put Harvey behind them and the Colts have a shot when Andrew Luck returns to the lineup.  But coming into week 2 the Jaguars can move to 2-0 with a win at home over division rivals the Tennessee Titans.

So are the Jacksonville Jaguars contenders or pretenders?  With the state of the division, I think they’re contenders.  But the outcome next week will either confirm or debunk that theory.