Is it too late to start speculating about the 2011/12 season?
In this Jaguar-less time of year for us Jacksonville fans? Never.
While the actual dates of the 2011 schedule have yet to be announced, the opponents have. This coming season the Jaguars have the pleasure of hosting The Ravens, Bengals, Saints, Bucs, Chargers, Colts, Texans, and Titans. Our dear boys in teal will be visiting the Browns, Steelers, Falcons, Panthers, Jets, Colts, Texans, and Titans. That’s six playoff teams (one of which will be played twice). The Saints won the Superbowl in February 2010, the Steelers the year before that, the Colts two years before that. Oh, and the Colts went to one last year too. And did I mention the Steelers are playing for another one this Sunday? Not to mention two teams (the Bucs and Chargers) that could easily make the jump to the postseason. Speaking of jumps, make the jump now to read more!
Every year the Jags play the Colts, Texans and Titans, so let’s not analyze the matchups there as we can generally expect close games (especially against the Colts) and the division rivalries bring a totally different feel to those games. But looking at the other teams we can expect a tough year ahead of us. Combined the 2010 regular season record of Jaguar opponents is 89-71 (111-97 with Division Rivals, which the Jaguars split going 3-3 in 2010). The only teams that may be a cakewalk are the Panthers (2-14), and the Bengals (4-12). The Jaguars get to play five of the top seven teams from 2010. The Ravens, Jets, Steelers, Saints, and Falcons all finished with 11 wins or more in the 2010 regular season, and there may be a defending Super Bowl champion among them by this Sunday. The Bucs are not to be taken lightly as their team established themselves as a potential threat for the postseason in 2010.
Overall, the record of opponents visiting the Jaguars is 46-34 (68-50 with Division Rivals). Not counting division rivals, the only team with a losing record that will be visiting are the Bengals. While this will provide for good games, it does pose a challenge to the Jaguars. Without strong fan support, the Jaguars may be unable to fully exert the power of homefield advantage. Not to mention that the Ravens, Saints, Bucs, and Chargers all had winning record on the road this past year.
The away schedule may actually be the better half of the year for the Jaguars. Combined the teams have a 43-37 record (65-63 with Division Rivals). Three of the five non-division foes have winning records at home (Steelers, Falcons, and Jets). And only Matty Ice and the Falcons (7-1 at home) have a distinct advantage. The Jaguars have beaten the Steelers at home before, and the return to their old dominant form is appearing imminent this coming season. While the road games tend to be tough on teams, if the Jaguars come away winning three of the five against their opponents (assuming they beat the Panthers and Browns and one other playoff team) they will have secured themselves as at least a threat to the stronger teams in the league. While the Panthers will be rebuilding (Again) this next year, the Browns have a solid foundation and I expect Holmgren to make some strong moves this offseason. If the Jaguars manage to topple the Falcons (only three losses at home with Matt Ryan under center) they will gain the attention of the league.
I’m looking forward to a good season next year and fully anticipate the Jags to be in contention in every game and, hopefully, come out on top. As GM Gene said recently, we’re just a defense away from the postseason. That defense may be in this year’s draft.
After all, In Gene we trust.
– Luke N. sims
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