JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Of the things that come to mind when looking at the Jaguars 2017 schedule the best are the fact that seven of the 13 opponents had losing records in 2016 and there are only three playoff teams to face.
Everything else is summed up well by my colleague Cole Pepper:
“If the Jaguars are decent at Thanksgiving, the schedule helps them out. Otherwise, not so much.”
It’s a tough start and a tough finish. No primetime game for the first time in franchise history and two games in Jacksonville before November 5th.
Shad Khan can’t be happy.
Three straight home games in December will only help the Jaguars if they’re off to a fast start and are somewhere around .500 through the first three months of the season. That could be tough when they open against the pre-season AFC South favorite Houston Texans on the road, followed by a home game against an emerging Tennessee team and their quarterback Marcus Mariota.
Although it’s a home game, week three is a trip to London to face the Ravens with no bye week afterwards. In fact, the Jaguars will get back on a plane the following Saturday and fly to New York to face the Jets in week four. If that stretch isn’t already tough on the players’ bodies, they go back on the road the next week to face the always-physical Pittsburgh Steelers.
Nothing in the first five weeks favors the Jaguars except that they’ve won in London in back-to-back years. Anything less than 2-3 in that stretch will leave the players hurting, their confidence waning, the coaches mad, and the fans frustrated.
Three of the next five games are at home, with the bye week scheduled for Florida/Georgia weekend on October 29th. The Rams, Bengals and Chargers will be in Jacksonville with the one road trip in that stretch a division game against Indy. This is the stretch where we’ll find out what the Jaguars of 2017 will be all about. None of those teams are world-beaters with the Bengals the toughest out of the bunch.
Beating the Browns in Cleveland will be imperative at that point in the season because the next week they’re back on the road against the Cardinals in Phoenix with Carson Palmer.
Playing three straight home games in December is nice if you’re a contender, but it does nothing for the Jaguars allowing Indy, Seattle and Houston to come here and play a fair-weather game on the road. You want those games at home in September where you can use the home town heat to your advantage.
They finish with two road games, at San Francisco and at Tennessee on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve respectively. The ‘Niners are rebuilding but the Titans could be fighting for a playoff spot and get that game at home.
It’s the first time in franchise history there’s no prime time games, no Thursday appearance, nothing on Sunday night or Monday night. You could say they’ve earned that with their record of the last five years.
If Tom Coughlin and Doug Marrone wanted a challenge, they certainly got one immediately. The league did them no favors.