JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Back when the Jaguars schedule was released in the spring, I--like just about every fan and reporter out there--went through and picked wins and losses and came up with a 7-10 record. At the time, I said I was reserving the right to change my mind after seeing the team in the preseason and seeing what the teams on their schedule did as well. So let’s do it. Let’s pick the wins and losses.
Sept. 12 at Houston Texans
Prediction: W (1-0)
The Texans figure to be the worst team in the league. It’s a perfect game for the Jaguars to kick off the season.
Sept. 19 vs. Denver Broncos
Prediction: W (2-0)
The Broncos are coming to town in September and they’ll be playing 11 on 12. The Florida heat will be in the Jaguars’ favor, even against Teddy Bridgewater, who was named the starting quarterback for Denver.
Sept. 26 vs. Arizona Cardinals
Prediction: L (2-1)
Even coming across the country, the Cardinals will be able to move the ball against the Jaguars. With DeAndre Hopkins and A.J. Green at wide receiver, Kyler Murray will have enough playmakers to give the Jaguars their first loss of the season.
Sept. 30 at Cincinnati Bengals
Prediction: W (3-1)
The Bengals made the mistake of not taking an offensive lineman in the first round, instead going with Joe Burrow’s college wide receiver Jamaar Chase. It’s going to cost Burrow and the Bengals.
Oct. 10 vs. Tennessee Titans
Prediction: L (3-2)
The Titans are the class of the AFC South. The Jaguars should be better equipped to slow down Derrick Henry, but they won’t be able to stop him entirely.
Oct. 17 vs. Miami Dolphins in London
Prediction: L (3-3)
This will be Urban Meyer’s first trip to London to play a game. Same for Trevor Lawrence. The first time can be tough. I expect the Jaguars to gain some kind of advantage over time if they keep playing in London, but it’s not enough to overcome a better Miami team.
Oct. 31 at Seattle Seahawks
Prediction: L (3-4)
A cross-country trip is not a good recipe for success. Especially with a young team.
Nov. 7 vs. Buffalo Bills
Prediction: L (3-5)
The Bills are Super Bowl contenders. The Jaguars are not.
Nov. 14 at Indianapolis Colts
Prediction: L (3-6)
Although I think the Colts are going to take a big step back this season with injuries to quarterback Carson Wentz and their best player, guard Quinton Nelson, I think the Jaguars will split with Indy. More on that later.
Nov. 21 vs. San Francisco 49ers
Prediction: W (4-6)
As mentioned with the Seattle game, it’s a cross-country trip for the 49ers, who will be led by rookie quarterback Trey Lance.
Nov. 28 vs. Atlanta Falcons
Prediction: L (4-7)
Atlanta pushed off rebuilding with a young quarterback and selected Florida tight end Kyle Pitts with the fourth pick of the draft. This could be the last season with Matt Ryan at quarterback in Atlanta.
Dec. 5 at Los Angeles Rams
Prediction: L (4-8)
Another cross-country trip and a reunion with Jalen Ramsey.
Dec. 12 at Tennessee Titans
Prediction: L (4-9)
The Titans will be in a playoff push by then.
Dec. 19 vs. Houston Texans
Prediction: W (5-9)
The Texans should be making tee-times by this point in the season.
Dec. 26 at New York Jets
Prediction: L (5-10)
A matchup of the top two picks in the draft with Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson. Give the edge to the Jets in the cold the day after Christmas.
Jan. 2 at New England Patriots
Prediction: L (5-11)
Another matchup of rookie quarterbacks. Lawrence and former Bolles standout Mac Jones. It’s colder in New England the day after the new year arrives.
Jan. 9 vs. Indianapolis Colts
Prediction: W (6-11)
The Jaguars end the season on a positive note and split with the Colts.
I think there are some areas where this team is definitely going to be better than last year. First and foremost, on run defense. Last year, the Jaguars gave up the third-most rushing yards in the NFL. I expect them to be in the top third of the league this year. They were also among the worst in the league at forcing turnovers. I think they’ll be better there. I also expect the passing game to be more potent--some of that will be Trevor Lawrence and some of it will be as a result of better wide-receiver play. DJ Chark is stronger. Laviska Shennault now knows what they expect from an NFL season and Marvin Jones looks like a real pro out there. I think the Titans are going to win the division pretty easily, but I think the Jaguars could finish a distant second. It all depends on the adjustments the team will make as the season goes on. And, of course, health--always a wild card. But I think every Jaguars fan would take 6 wins this year after what they’ve been subjected to over the past three seasons. For that matter, what they’ve endured for all but one season since 2007.