Jaguars vs. Bengals: 'You have to earn the right to play on Monday Night Football'

• The Jaguars are playing their first MNF game in years

• Doug P knows they'll need to keep earning primetime bouts

Nov 26, 2023; Houston, Texas, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16).
Nov 26, 2023; Houston, Texas, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16). / Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The last time the Jacksonville Jaguars played a Monday Night Football bout was against the then-San Diego Chargers in 2011. That was more than a decade ago but the league put an end to the Jags' drought of primetime games this season, giving them not one but three.

It's true that the Jags routinely got one on Thursday Night in recent years but you would likely agree that kind of games lack the luster of playing on Monday or Sunday Night. Head coach Doug Pederson understands why Jacksonville hadn't gotten many primetimes though and is glad they got one upcoming one against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 13.

Pederson told the local media Thursday that teams have to earn the right to appear on a primetime game, "I feel like the guys have earned that for this game, and hopefully we have more to come," Pederson said.

Earlier in the availability session, Pederson stressed the importance of sticking to the process and keeping emotions in check but he also wants his players to enjoy the moment.

"One of the things that I'm gonna keep talking to these guys about is controlling emotion, staying in the moment, focus on your job this week, don't have to go out of your way, do anything extra special, just do your process," Pederson said,

Pederson later said that he likes Monday Night Football because they get one more day to rest but noted that it doesn't really change the team's approach to games.

The Jags are welcoming the Bengals at EverBank Stadium Monday. While they're 5-0 on the road this season, their three losses have come at home. Working in their favor is that Cincy lost Joe Burrow for the year. In his place, journeyman Jake Browning will be starting behind center in Week 13.

While the Bengals' defense could give Jacksonville fits, Jacksonville has a favorable matchup overall, entering the game as an 8.5-point favorite, per Caesars Sportsbook. Here's Pederson's full exchange with the media.

The Jaguars should keep getting primetime games next season

The league will often award primetime games to either the hottest teams in the league or those with the biggest followings. For a long time, the Jacksonville Jaguars didn't fulfill either requisite. They had just one winning season (2017) from 2007 to 2022, lacked played with star power, and played in one of the smallest markets in the country.

You could point out that the lowly Chicago Bears just played the Minnesota Vikings on Monday Night Football despite the fact that they're 3-8 entering the game. The NFL could've flexed the contest if they had wanted but they know the Bears are a big draw. Meanwhile, Jaguars fans weren't pleased they only got a Thursday Night game in 2018 despite the fact that they had made the AFC Championship the year before.

In retrospect, the NFL seemed to have known what they were doing, as the Jags came crashing down in 2018, and wouldn't have been appealing on either Monday or Sunday night. The good news is that more primetimes should be on their way to Jacksonville. They made the playoffs last season and have a favorable chance of pulling off the feat in 2023. Moreover, they appeared to have been built to have sustained success and have a star quarterback in Trevor Lawrence. That should be more than enough to get consideration to play on Monday or Sunday next year.

The bottom line is that the Jaguars will have a national stage Monday, and they'll have the chance to show everyone that they're not "the same old Jaguars." If they make the most of their chance, many more will come.

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