From above SI article:
Who will be this year's Cinderella? Let's put our dollar on Jacksonville, which went 5-11 under first-year head coach Jack Del Rio in 2003. The Jaguars finished strong, winning three of their last five games...
So winning 3 out of 5 means you've "finished strong"? Add the previous game and the Jags finished 3-3. That's considered mediocre in most circles. And who did they play in those last 5 games?
Week 12 vs Tampa Bay (Jags 17, Bucs 10) - Congrats to the Jags who beat a sub .500 Tampa Bay team thanks to an reversal on a Leftwich interception.
Week 13 vs Houston (Jags 27, Texans zip) - More kudos to the Jags who beat a defenseless Texan team led by a rookie 3rd string QB.
Week 14 at New England (Pats 27, Jags 13) - Super Bowl champs slap Jags back to reality.
Week 15 vs New Orleans (Jags 20, Aints 19) - A big thank you goes out to Aints kicker John Carney who shanks the extra point that would send game into OT.
Week 16 at Atlanta (Falcons 24, Jags 17) - Jags finish "strong" by losing their 8th road game of the season.
In contrast, in the season's last 2 weeks the Texans played 2 of the premier teams in the NFL down to the wire in what were must games for the Titans and the Colts respectively. And that was without 3 of the top Texan defenders. Who finished stronger between the Texans & Jags is really a matter of interpretation.
I understand why some people see the Jags as a contender. They start 5 1st round picks & 4 2nd rounders on offense. 4 1sts & 3 2nds on defense. On paper, they have the talent. Looking at this Jag team that couldn't win a single road game in 2003, I'd consider them underachievers, not up & comers.