Jacksonville Jaguars have three matchups on list of top 18 games for 2018 season


The Jacksonville Jaguars are a main attraction heading into the upcoming NFL season.

After a successful 2017 campaign, the Jacksonville Jaguars have positioned themselves to be competitive again next season. Boasting perhaps the league’s best defense, and revamping the offense this offseason, the Jaguars are a threat at defending the AFC South crown, and making another deep run in the playoffs.

With Jacksonville proving to be one of the NFL’s most talented teams, the team will be an alluring follow in 2018. Elliot Harrison, of NFL.com, comprised a list of the top 18 games for next season, and the Jaguars check in on the list on three separate occasions.

The first Jacksonville featured game comes in at number 13, and is the rematch of the divisional round game against the Pittsburgh Steelers:

"13) Pittsburgh Steelers at Jacksonville JaguarsNow that we’ve soared past some players pitted against their former teams — and a little regional fare — let’s take our first dive into a game that should feature two bona fide Super Bowl contenders. Steelers at Jaguars is part of a handful of 2018’s top-shelf games that harken back to last season. The Divisional Round bout was nothing if not riveting. No one really knew if the upstart Jags — present because of their defense — could hold on in a video game type of event, one which went markedly different from the regular-season meeting at Heinz Field. While you should not anticipate another 45-42 showing from these two teams, the relevance of this matchup can’t be underestimated. The Jags are on the upswing, and usually play much better defensively in Jacksonville. On the other hand, the Steelers went an impressive 7-1 on the road last year, with hardly anyone noticing. There’s a reason the Steelers are always in games, starting with No. 26 in the backfield and No. 84 out wide. It doesn’t get any better than Antonio Brown vs. Jalen Ramsey. Like Schlitz Beer."

If the Jaguars have showed anything in recent years, it’s that the team is in no way afraid of Pittsburgh. In fact, that shoe should be on the other foot. Jacksonville pulled off a feat last season that they themselves are the only team to previously accomplish: beating the Steelers twice in Pittsburgh in the same season.  The Jaguars rolled the Steelers in week five of 2017, and then stunned the the home team again in the playoffs. Perhaps no one is looking forward to another head to head more than Leonard Fournette, who had five touchdowns in the two games last season.

Next on the list is the battle with the defending Super Bowl champs in London, which is number 10 on the list:

"10) Philadelphia Eagles at Jacksonville JaguarsThis was the hardest matchup to place on the top 18 of ’18. We know the Eagles will be aiming for the first repeat since the Patriots pulled off the double-play in 2003 and ’04. Plenty of league observers think Jacksonville could very well be the team that stands in Philly’s way come February. Quarterback remains the central issue for both franchises. Will Carson Wentz assume his pre-injury form? Will Blake Bortles play viably enough to keep Jacksonville in games when necessary, and not press when it’s notnecessary? Both teams have a few new faces. Compelling on this front, even if it didn’t garner headlines, is Donte Moncrief joining a Jags offense that lost Allen Robinson to free agency. Since Robinson’s season-ending injury in Week 1 of last season, Jacksonville has lacked a WR1. Moncrief might not be that — however, it’s hard to gauge his career considering all the injuries he’s endured. On the other side of the ball, the Jags’ defense will be a heckuva matchup for Wentz and Philadelphia’s offense."

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This game came oh so close to being a rematch of Super Bowl 52, but I digress. The Jaguars have found themselves on a hot streak in the annual London game, winning their last three in a row. The one against the Eagles in 2018 will certainly be the most high-profile of the across the pond battles, with both teams firmly set up to to be elite again next season. Winning four in a row in Wembley Stadium won’t come easy for the Jaguars, but will be attainable.

The highest ranking game for Jacksonville should come as no surprise, and is slotted all the way at number two:

"2) New England Patriots at Jacksonville JaguarsThis AFC Championship Game redux ranks higher than Vikings at Eagles because of how close the Jags came to dethroning the Patriots. Moreover, this time, Tom Brady will not be enjoying the friendly confines of New England. Against what is an already formidable Jacksonville defense, that’s saying something. The main factor as to whether this could be the matchup of 2018 is the quarterback … namely, Blake Bortles. He fared well against the Patriots’ defense back in January and was certainly notthe reason the men in teal lost. Whether or not he can build off his strong postseason showing is another matter. Either way, it should be fascinating watching the Pats’ offense — with Julian Edelman back and Brandin Cooks not — line up against the most talented defensive unit in football."

(Myles Jack wasn’t down.)

The AFC championship still stings, and it’s a deep pain. The Jaguars had a trip to the Super Bowl in their grasp, but it slipped away late. This go around, the game will be in Jacksonville, and the team has not forgotten about the previous matchup. This will be a heated affair, and will almost undoubtedly be the top game of whatever week it falls on. The Jaguars showed the team has what it takes to beat the Patriots in 2017, but will have to seal the deal in 2018 in round two.

All three games will be a test if the Jacksonville Jaguars are ready to take that next step next season. The actual dates and times of the entire league schedule will be released on Thursday night.