Sannes' Win Total Projections: The Jaguars' Spending Spree and Mitchell Trubisky With the Steelers

Trevor Lawrence got some key weapons upgrades on the opening day of NFL free agency. How does that impact the Jacksonville Jaguars' betting outlook in 2022?

No matter what we think of the Jacksonville Jaguars' moves on Monday, you gotta grant them one thing: they're trying.

The Jags have a hyper-gifted quarterback in Trevor Lawrence who struggled mightily as a rookie. But as we've seen in the past with guys like Jared Goff and Josh Allen, quarterbacks can overcome early struggles if you give them a better supporting cast.

The Jaguars may have over-spent to get it, but they've absolutely upgraded around Lawrence entering year two.

The key questions are how much did they upgrade, and what does it do for their betting outlook in 2022? Those are obviously separate from the future-looking salary-cap discussions they'll have to have in coming offseasons, but as bettors, we're focused on this year. How should we view the new-look Jags?

Let's start things off there, leaning on what my model is saying about Jacksonville after the first day of free agency before we dig into other key moves across the league.

A Meaningful Bump for the Jags

Eventually, the cost of the Christian Kirk and Brandon Scherff deals is probably going to hurt the Jaguars. Shopping at the high end of the free-agent market rarely works out.

But at least for 2022, this does improve the Jags' outlook in a non-negligible way.

Prior to the start of free agency, the Jaguars were 30th in my power rankings, ahead of just the New York Jets and Houston Texans. Once you add in the new toys, they shift all the way up to second in the AFC South!

Ignore the fact that's 26th among all teams, one spot ahead of the Indianapolis Colts, who will undoubtedly shift back ahead once they are no longer projected to start Jim Irsay at quarterback. Sunshine! Hope! Optimism!

This shift comes because -- at least on offense -- most of the investments were ones that will aid the passing offense. Projected passing efficiency gets by far the heaviest weight in my model, and adding Kirk, Scherff, Evan Engram, and Zay Jones does move the needle. Jacksonville was 29th in numberFire's schedule-adjusted passing efficiency metrics last year, but I've now got them projected to rank 23rd next year.

There's still a lot of work to do here -- especially on defense. And, again, these contracts will take a toll eventually. But for 2022, the Jaguars are at least trying to give Lawrence a chance to succeed. Once FanDuel Sportsbook has win totals posted, they're a team we'll want to check on.

I Wish I Knew How to Quit the Chargers

Year after year, the Los Angeles Chargers draw us in with a talented, high-upside roster only to give us the double-barreled middle fingers in December. I've been down this road before. I know the outcome.

But, my goodness, is it hard to make this team look bad on paper.

The offense was already slick last year, ranking fourth overall and seventh through the air, according to numberFire's schedule-adjusted metrics. Now, the defense has added Khalil Mack and J.C. Jackson into the fold. Their major contribution will be to the pass defense, the segment of my model that receives the second-highest weight. After finishing 19th against the pass last year, they're projected to rank 13th this year with the upside for more.

We know the flaws here with the rush defense. I'm not expecting the additions of Austin Johnson and Sebastian Joseph-Day to cure those woes, so they're still an imperfect team. But if you're projected to be an efficient passing offense with a high-upside pass defense, that can overcome a lot.

The Chargers -- as a result -- have moved from eighth to fifth in my power rankings. It was tough to type that with the vomit covering my keyboard. They're just tough to hate on with the pieces they've got.

The time to buy the Chargers was last week when everyone was high on the Russell Wilson trade to the Denver Broncos. The Chargers' divisional odds have shortened to +260 from +360. I'm fine not betting anything yet here in hopes of betting a win total over in the future, but I can guarantee you -- against my better judgement -- I'll have futures exposure to the Chargers once again.

Mitchell Trubisky's Impact on the Steelers

Three teams improved at least three spots in my power rankings at the start of free agency. Two are the ones already discussed in the Jaguars and Chargers.

The other is the Pittsburgh Steelers thanks to the addition of Mitchell Trubisky.

This movement is less about Trubisky himself and more about who would have started had they not signed Trubisky. Mason Rudolph ranked 37th in Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back as a starter in 2019, and Dwayne Haskins was 39th that year.

Trubisky was 34th, but that was his lone season outside the top 30. He actually had a pair of top-20 seasons (12th in 2018 and 19th in 2020, though that was aided by a wildly-easy schedule). He's not a long-term answer, but he's at least more competent than the alternatives.

Even with a bad offensive line and without JuJu Smith-Schuster, the cupboard isn't entirely bare around Trubisky in Pittsburgh. Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, and Pat Freiermuth is a decent little trio. Adding Trubisky moves the Steelers up to 24th in projected passing efficiency after they finished 27th last year.

Similar to the Jaguars and Chargers, this won't necessarily translate to betting any divisional or Super Bowl futures on this team. They're still just 20th in my power rankings. Instead, it piques my interest on what we'll see once win totals are up. It's a tough division, so I'm still not expecting the Steelers to light it up, but this might be a decent spot to look if expectations are crazy low.