We haven’t even gotten to the start of training camp but it’s never too early to predict how the Jacksonville Jaguars season will unfold.
The element of surprise has been thrown out the window as NFL teams are well aware of the Jaguars’ recipe for success. While the team was still a 3-13 franchise this time last season, a 10-6 team with playoff experience and a potential frontrunner to Super Bowl 53 is expected to have more competition in the AFC South this season.
Games against New England, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia highlight a solid home schedule. The Jaguars travel to Kansas City, Dallas, and New York to play the Giants.
The schedule is tougher, the roster is improved and expectations are greater. Here is a look at how I see the Jaguars schedule breaking down.
WEEK 1 – Sun 09/09 – 1:00 PM EDT – at New York Giants
The season begins with one of the most talked about matchups this offseason. Jalen Ramsey will cover Odell Beckham, Jr. Even the Jaguars’ cornerback referred to it in his press conference at minicamp. The Jaguars’ road to the Super Bowl begins with a tough win on the road over Eli Manning and Tom Coughlin’s former team. Jaguars 23-20
WEEK 2 – Sun 09/16 – 4:25 PM EDT – vs. New England Patriots
PAYBACK! It has been eight months since these two teams played each other in the AFC Title game and Myles Jack still isn’t down. The Patriots have undergone a major roster change. The Jaguars circled this one on their calendars once the NFL schedule came out. TIAA Bank will be sold out for this one and the Jaguars will get their revenge in their first home game of the season. Jaguars 31-21.
WEEK 3 – Sun 09/23 – 1:00 PM EDT – vs. Tennessee Titans
The one thing that stands out in my mind about the Jaguars winning the AFC South is was they could not beat Tennessee once again, preventing them from having a better record and possibly a better seed in the playoffs. The Titans continue to be this franchise’s, Achilles Heel. Not this time. Jacksonville figures out how to stop Derrick Henry and Dion Lewis. Jaguars 24-16.
WEEK 4 – Sun 09/30 – 1:00 PM EDT – vs. New York Jets
Another one of those games that could prove to be a trap game. Sam Darnold should be under center when the Gang Green come to TIAA Bank field. The Jaguars are well aware of how the Jets carved up this defense running the football last season. It may have been the reason Jacksonville traded for Marcell Dareus. This week, the running game is slowed a bit and Jacksonville remains unbeaten. Jaguars 30-17.
WEEK 5 – Sun 10/07 – 1:00 PM EDT – at Kansas City Chiefs
Arrowhead Stadium is one of the toughest places to play in the NFL. True, Kansas City will start Patrick Mahomes, and true, the Jaguars’ defense will lick their chops with a neophyte throwing the football. But for some reason, I think the Jaguars fall on the road. Jacksonville can’t win them all. They won’t. Kansas City 20-14.
WEEK 6 · Sun 10/14 – 4:25 PM EDT – at Dallas Cowboys
While I know there are members of the media that were elated this was not a Thanksgiving Day game, I kind of wanted to see the Jaguars play on the holiday. The Cowboys will be better than last season with Ezekiel Elliott playing all 16 games. The Jaguars come off an emotional loss at Kansas City and cannot rebound on the road. It happens to even the best of teams. Dallas 24-23.
WEEK 7 – Sun 10/21 – 1:00 PM EDT – vs. Houston Texans
Hello, Houston! The Jaguars return home with a Texans team that has Deshaun Watson back and its defense intact. This will be another test for the Jaguars defense against Watson’s arm and legs. It will also be another classic matchup of Ramsey and DeAndre Hopkins. Jacksonville wins a slugfest. By the way, J.J. Watt also returns for Houston. Jaguars 35-30.
WEEK 8 – Sun 10/28 – 9:30 AM EDT – vs. Philadelphia Eagles (at Wembley Stadium)
By far one of the best games of the year and played at the Jaguars’ home away from home. I’m sure many fans had this one circled on their calendars as well. This could have been the Super Bowl 52 matchup in Minnesota. This is also another test for the Jaguars to prove they are one of the best in the NFL. Jaguars 27-24.
WEEK 9 – BYE WEEK
WEEK 10 – Sun 11/11 – 1:00 PM EST – at Indianapolis Colts
A return from the bye week and the Jaguars meet the Colts for the first time on the road. Even with Andrew Luck back at quarterback, this is a bad matchup for the home team. Jacksonville abused the Colts last season and figure to do the same. This used to be a marquee game, but now it’s an easy win for Jacksonville. Jaguars 38-14.
WEEK 11 – Sun 11/18 – 8:20 PM EST – vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Another one of those games with playoff implications. The Jaguars and Steelers are looking to gain an edge in home-field advantage for the playoffs. The Jaguars walked into Heinz Field twice last season and came away with victories. Beating Pittsburgh three straight times would be unheard of. Ben Roethlisberger was awful in the first game last season and magical in the second. This year, he gets revenge. Pittsburgh 33-31.
WEEK 12 – Sun 11/25 – 1:00 PM EST – at Buffalo Bills
It’s possible the Bills could be starting Josh Allen or Nathan Peterman at quarterback. Yes, AJ McCarron is still on the roster. The Jaguars had trouble scoring on the Bills in the AFC Wild Card game last season. This year, it should be a bit easier. Coming off a loss to Pittsburgh, Jacksonville will be mad and look to get back to their winning ways. Jacksonville 28-16.
WEEK 13 – Sun 12/02 – 1:00 PM EST – vs. Indianapolis Colts
The Colts come to town. Nothing much has changed and the fans in Jacksonville have one thing on their minds – PLAYOFFS. This might be over by the half as the Jaguars defense has one of those performances that make highlight reels on national television. Jacksonville 41-14.
WEEK 14 – Thu 12/06 – 8:20 PM EST – at Tennessee Titans
This is a game the Jaguars should be worried about. Playing a Tennessee team in the playoff hunt late in the season means a battle between these two rivals. While Jacksonville keeps it close, the Titans running game opens up the passing game for Marcus Mariota. At least the Jaguars split the season series with their division rival. Titans 21-17.
WEEK 15 – Sun 12/16 – 1:00 PM EST – vs. Washington Redskins
This is one of those games that could cost the Jaguars playoff positioning. The Redskins may be the most improved team in the NFC and with Alex Smith at quarterback, they should be one of the more efficient offenses in the NFL. The Jaguars still control the clock and win in an ugly contest in their final home game of the season. Jaguars 17-16.
WEEK 16 – TBD – at Miami Dolphins
I’m looking forward to this game because I will be in South Florida watching from the stands. The Dolphins have lots of issues to resolve prior to the season and could be the worst team in the AFC East. Jacksonville takes advantage of the ‘Fins weak offense with a stellar defensive day. Another win and one more victory than last season. Jaguars 33-18.
WEEK 17 · Sun 12/30 – 1:00 PM EST – at Houston Texans
This could be a game that decides the AFC South title. Jacksonville has had a history of walking into Houston in the past with a winning record on the line and throwing up on themselves. With Deshaun Watson coming back strong from his ACL injury and the Texans’ defense looking like its old self, this one proves to be as close as it gets. In the end, the Jaguars defense proves it’s a bit better. Jaguars 13-10.
Jacksonville finishes the season at 12-4 and wins the AFC South once again.