With training camp underway and the preseason fast approaching, Last Word on Pro Football is analyzing the schedules of all 32 NFL teams. Each team’s 16-game slate will be split into its most difficult (1-8) and easiest games (9-16). The focus of this article is to highlight the Jacksonville Jaguars easiest games on the 2020 schedule.
Jacksonville Jaguars Easiest Games in 2020
9. Week 1: vs. Indianapolis Colts
The Jaguars start their season with a matchup on the road against division rival, the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts have made upgrades throughout their roster, most notably at quarterback. During the off-season, Philip Rivers signed a one-year, $25 million contract. This move, in theory, should be an upgrade from last year’s quarterback play, but Rivers’ arm strength seemed to fall off at the end of last year. Loss of arm strength is typically what causes older quarterbacks to regress. However, if he can return to form, the Colts should easily be the favorite to win the AFC South. This would especially hurt Jacksonville’s weakened pass defense.
10. Week 14: vs. Tennessee Titans
The Tennessee Titans have given Jacksonville some tough matchups over the years, and this game will be no different. The biggest issue in this game for the Jaguars will once again be Derrick Henry. However, Mike Vrabel is also a really good coach who has one of the more underrated defenses in the league. The Titans did lose long-time defensive lineman Jurrell Casey and cornerback Logan Ryan but have acquired enough talent to remain competitive on that side nonetheless. Ryan Tannehill will be another critical factor in this game. Tannehill had a career year last year and signed an extension this off-season, but there are many differing opinions on how his next season will go.
11. Week 5: at Houston Texans
The Houston Texans have made a lot of controversial choices this off-season with Bill O’Brien taking on general manager responsibilities on top of being the head coach. This has led the Texans to trade away star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and much of their draft capital. Overall, the Texans do not seem to have much of a plan in building their roster, which has caused many poor off-season moves. Houston should be an easier matchup than the year prior due to the talent lost and poor roster building. Still, facing Deshaun Watson will be a significant challenge for the Jaguars defense.
12. Week 16: vs Chicago Bears
One year after the Jaguars paid Nick Foles, he may be starting against Jacksonville with former offensive coordinator, John DeFilippo, at his side. The Bears’ biggest strength is on defense though. Even though it’s likely to regress this year, it remains one of the harder defenses Jacksonville will face. However, the Bears don’t have much of an offensive identity. It’s still a question whether Foles or Mitch Trubisky is starting, and the supporting cast isn’t too good. If Jacksonville can play sound defense and still put up points against one of the better defenses, they can pull out a win late in the season.
13. Week 9: vs. Houston Texans
Jacksonville will face their division rival the Texans for the second time of the season. As stated before, the Texans made a lot of questionable moves this off-season with Bill O’Brien having general manager responsibilities. One of the biggest issues with this is that Bill O’Brien, the general manager, might have gotten Bill O’Brien, the coach in trouble with the locker room. If this is the case, the Texans season does have a good chance of derailing, and O’Brien might even be fired at this point. The Texans’ loss of talent factored with this makes it seem that it will only be downhill from this point forward during the Bill O’Brien era.
14. Week 3: vs. Miami Dolphins
Playing the Dolphins this early in the year means that Ryan Fitzpatrick will most likely be starting. Even if Tua Tagovailoa is fully healthy, Fitzpatrick had success and the end of last year and most teams tend to start with the veteran option. The Dolphins also significantly upgraded their defense. They might have the best cornerback group in the league headlined by Byron Jones, Xavier Howard, Noah Igbinoghene, and Nik Needham. This will prove to be tough to handle, but Jacksonville can take advantage of an inexperienced offensive line and below-average skill position players.
15. Week 4: at Cincinnati Bengals
Joe Burrow may have had one of the best college football seasons of all time, but historically rookie quarterbacks do not perform too well. The Bengals offensive line is also in a massive rebuild, and going from one of the top college offensive lines to the Bengals is undoubtedly a huge change. Zac Taylor is also one of the most prominent question marks for the Bengals one year in. Though it’s unfair to judge a head coach after one year, there weren’t too many positive takeaways from the Bengals last year. Though the Bengals have a nice supporting cast of skill position players for Burrow, there are still many holes on their roster that Jacksonville should be able to expose.
16. Week 6: vs. Detroit Lions
The Lions have been struggling ever since Matt Patricia took over two years ago. The offense should bounce back this year as a healthy Matt Stafford played well in the eight games he played in 2019 under a new coordinator Darren Bevell. Stafford also has one of the better wide receiver duos with Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones. However, the Lions have continuously struggled on defense under Patricia despite him being touted as a defensive genius when he took over. If the defense doesn’t improve from last year, this should be Jacksonville’s easiest game considering they have home-field advantage as well.