Jacksonville Jaguars: Early analysis of 2018 regular season opponents

FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 21: Leonard Fournette
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 21: Leonard Fournette /

After a year of unprecedented success, a glimpse at what the 2018 season has in store on the schedule for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The games are all complete, and the NFL offseason is underway. As the new league year prepares to begin in March, free agency and draft chatter will climb quickly to center stage.

Before we go full speed into the whirlwind that is March and April, let’s peek ahead to what lies in the Jacksonville Jaguars‘ path to Super Bowl 53. While it is unclear at the moment what players will be added and drafted to improve the team, one thing has been known for awhile now, and that’s the Jaguars’ opponents for 2018.

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The actual dates and times of the games won’t be announced until April, but the teams have been set in stone. Along with the six games against division rivals, the NFL schedule is also mostly comprised of rotating division vs. division matchups. This season, Jacksonville gets the AFC East and NFC East.

It’s obviously still very early, and the NFL always has a handful of both surprising and disappointing teams each season. A prime example is the Jaguars themselves. Jacksonville jumped from 3-13 in 2016, to 10-6 in 2017.

But while teams will change and improve before the season kicks off, let’s analyze the schedule for the 2018 Jaguars, by placing the opponents in three tiers:


New York Jets, Miami Dolphins, New York Giants, Indianapolis Colts, Houston Texans (at least one), Tennessee Titans (at least one)

The Jaguars are coming off an appearance in the AFC Championship, and if the team wants to prove to not be a fluke and continue to be taken seriously, these are games they have to win.

Three of the teams are picking in the top ten, and Houston would be too if not for a previous trade with the Cleveland Browns. The Titans finished with the best record of the group, and that was at just 9-7.

Tennessee did sweep Jacksonville this past season, and that cannot happen next year by any of the three division rivals. The Jaguars are too talented of a team to lose two games to a fellow AFC South team in 2018. With the circus that is the head coaching search with the Colts, and the uncertainty of Andrew Luck‘s playing future, the Jaguars should win both games against Indy. Deshaun Watson and J.J. Watt will be back for the Texans, and the Titans were a playoff team, but Jacksonville must take at least one win from each.

Potential hurdles

Kansas City Chiefs, Washington Redskins, Buffalo Bills, Dallas Cowboys

The Jaguars could very well find themselves favored in each one of these games, but these are still matchups that could be roadblocks in 2018.

Only two of the four made the playoffs in 2017, but all four have the potential to battle for a spot in the postseason next season.

Three of the four games are on the road, including trips to Arrowhead Stadium to face the reigning AFC West champ, and to Buffalo for a wild-card rematch.

Jacksonville is better on paper than all four teams, but in an always strenuous NFL season, will find themselves in a few dogfights.

Major tests

New England Patriots, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers

These are the headliners. This is big boy football. The two Super Bowl participants, and a rematch of the AFC Championship and divisional round for Jacksonville.

All three are technically home games, although the Eagles game will be the annual trip to London. The other two could easily be national primetime games, and at least one absolutely should.

Next: Jaguars finish third in end-of-season power ranking

These will be the measuring stick games for the Jaguars. The defending champions, Tom Brady and New England on a redemption tour, and a Pittsburgh team that will surly want another chance at Jacksonville after last season’s two losses.

The Jaguars proved last year the team can compete with (and beat) upper echelon teams in the NFL. Jacksonville will have three big opportunities to make more statements in 2018.