Predicting the 2017 Jacksonville Jaguars schedule, part two: Can this Jacksonville team finally be different?
We continue our in-depth look at the 2017 season for the Jacksonville Jaguars, with weeks five through nine at the forefront of this edition. If you missed the break down of the opening four weeks, you can read it here. In our predictions of the first four games, Jacksonville currently sits at an even 2-2 record. Let’s dive in and see if the Jaguars can position themselves for a playoff run.
Week Five: @ Pittsburgh Steelers
This is the first time this season the Jaguars will play a team on a exceedingly higher tier than the Jaguars currently reside. Pittsburgh heads into the season as perhaps the strongest challenger for snatching the AFC crown away from the New England Patriots. Add playing an elite team on the road with it being the third straight game away from Everbank Field, and this equation spells a bad day for the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jaguars will need to be crisp on offense, and will be especially crucial to get strong production from Leonard Fournette and the running game. Jacksonville will be game for the first half, but beating the Steelers in Pittsburgh is just too much of a hill to climb for the Jaguars in 2017.
Score: Pittsburgh 26-14
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Week Six: Los Angeles Rams
The Jaguars finally return home to Jacksonville to play, and get a matchup with the Los Angeles Rams. Containing running back Todd Gurley will be the key to shutting down the Rams offense. Los Angeles’ defense is the strong point of the team and will be a challenge for the Jaguars offense. In the end though, Jacksonville has put together enough talent throughout the roster that taking care of a team like the Rams at home should be expected. It will be one of those patented sluggish, low-scoring games that the Jaguars always find themselves partaking in at home, but Jacksonville comes out on top.
Score: Jacksonville 16-7
Week Seven: @ Indianapolis Colts
The Jaguars let a 17-0 lead slip away in the season finale last year in Indianapolis, a game that meant little outside of draft positioning but left a sour final note on a forgettable season. Andrew Luck was sacked 41 times last season, and uncertainty surrounds the team whether they can adequately keep Luck upright this season. Expect guys like Calais Campbell and Malik Jackson to keep Luck uncomfortable all game long, and the Jaguars get a lead and keep it this time around and get a win in Indianapolis, putting them over .500 for the first time in 2017.
Score: Jacksonville 24-20
Week Eight: BYE
Week Nine: Cincinnati Bengals
The Cincinnati Bengals hit a roadblock in 2016 after making the playoffs five straight seasons prior. In 2017, I expect to see more of the Bengals team that did make a run to the playoffs five consecutive years, and less like the one that only won six games last season. This will be a back-and-forth affair throughout, and the Jaguars will have one of their better offensive performances, but the Bengals grind out a close one as they try to keep pace in the competitive AFC North.
Score: Cincinnati 31-28
Analysis at the halfway point of the season:
Sitting at .500 with a 4-4 record midway through the season would be a significant accomplishment for a team who garnered only three wins all of last season. With a tough slate of games headed Jacksonville’s way in the second half of the season, the Jaguars will have given themselves a shot at making some real noise in the AFC South.