The NFL released the regular season schedules for all of the teams on Thursday. For the first time, the Jaguars will play back-to-back games in London, although only one of those games will be a “home” game.
Jacksonville hosts the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, Oct. 1, at Wembley Stadium. Then, the following week, the Jaguars will travel about 13 miles northeast of Wembley to face the Buffalo Bills at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
I have a few thoughts.
First, I think if the Jaguars are going to play a game in London, they might as well play two, as long as it’s not two home games. Three years ago, the Jaguars were going to move two home games to the UK, but those plans were scrapped by the pandemic, which canceled all international games.
Second, losing a home game against the Falcons is about the best home game for the Jaguars to have lost. Atlanta isn’t expected to be a playoff contender and there isn’t a lot of heat between the teams. With a schedule loaded with playoff contenders and star quarterbacks, the Falcons game was one of the most acceptable for fans in Jacksonville to miss.
The Jaguars weren’t going to play the Bills in Jacksonville and there was a chance that they could have wound up in the cold and snow in Orchard Park in December. This keeps the Jaguars from the potential icebox chill of western New York. They’ll play in a stadium they’ve seen before. The team notched the first of only two wins under Urban Meyer at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium against the Dolphins in 2021. Ironically, the other win came in Jacksonville against the Bills.
It will be interesting to see how many Jaguars fans make the trip to London for both games. It should make for a fun week on holiday, as they say in England.
Now, it’s time for the annual tradition of predicting the Jaguars’ record as the schedule is released. So here goes:
Week 1, on Sept. 10, the Jaguars open the season at Indianapolis in what is likely to be a matchup of Trevor Lawrence and Gardner Minshew at quarterback. Minshew will be motivated against his old team, especially with the possibility of former Gator Anthony Richardson unseating him as the starter. I expect the Colts to be better than they were last year, but I think the Jaguars will be better as well. Jaguars win to start the season. Jaguars record: 1-0.
The following week, the Jaguars’ home opener comes against no less than the reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs, the team that knocked the Jaguars out of the playoffs in January. Again, the quarterback matchup is the marquee draw — Lawrence vs. Patrick Mahomes. In Patrick Mahomes’ five years as a starter in Kansas City, the Chiefs’ worst seasons have resulted in trips to the AFC championship game. It would be a great start to the season if the Jags could pull off the upset. It would be an upset. I’m going with Kansas City. Jaguars record: 1-1.
I then have the Jaguars bouncing back to win four straight, including sweeping the two games in London and beating the Colts on the return trip to Jacksonville.
Perhaps the most difficult team to predict on the Jaguars’ roster is New Orleans. The Jaguars travel to the Big Easy on Oct. 19 for a Thursday Night Football matchup. The short week after the international travel and a Saints team with Derek Carr at quarterback worries me. It’s a loss on the road. Jaguars record: 5-2.
I have the Jaguars putting together another four-game winning streak after the loss, beating Pittsburgh, then San Francisco after the bye week, and then the Titans and Texans to stay unbeaten in the AFC South.
As December arrives, another major quarterback battle. And it’s Monday Night Football in Jacksonville for the Bengals’ arrival. Lawrence against Joe Burrow. Two quarterbacks who were taken with the top picks in their respective drafts. Burrow has a Super Bowl appearance to his name. This is the toughest game for me to pick on the schedule. If the Jaguars win, they would be considered Super Bowl contenders. A loss, and there is still more work to be done. I’m going to give this one to Cincinnati, for now, but I reserve the right to change my mind as the season gets closer. Jaguars record: 9-3.
After winning in Cleveland to improve to 10-3, the Jaguars then return home for another primetime game. Sunday Night Football on NBC against the Baltimore Ravens. This city will be pumped. That atmosphere is going to be like a playoff game. Lamar Jackson will have to console himself with his bank statement. Jaguars record: 11-3.
The Jaguars don’t have far to go for a Christmas Eve game, on the road at Tampa Bay. These games are always tough to get up for. By now, the Jaguars will have wrapped up the AFC South and will be playing for playoff positioning. Every season, good teams lose a game they shouldn’t. This is one of those. Buccaneers win. Jaguars record: 11-4.
I have the Jaguars splitting two late-season games against inferior opponents, which just tends to happen. Final regular season record: 12-5.
Then, it’s off to the playoffs where the Jaguars will likely see some rematches with teams like the Chiefs, Bills, Bengals, or Ravens. Those predictions can wait. For now.
Main image: Will Brown, Jacksonville Today