The Jacksonville Jaguars are looking for a major turnaround in 2022. Maybe not a playoff contest, but they want to quickly wash away the dramatic failure of their 3-14 season just a year ago under Urban Meyer’s embarrassing tenure.
Jacksonville must fight back its fair share of playoff teams and competitors daring to improve their record under first-year head coach Doug Pederson. They play against the AFC West—one of the toughest divisions in the NFL—as well as other Eagles and Cowboys playoff teams.
But the Jaguars also have several games that look winnable on paper. The same could have been said last year before the Jaguars’ three-win season, but the NFL is an unpredictable beast. Not many had swept the Jaguars from the Houston Texans last year, but even fewer had the Jaguars beat the Buffalo Bills.
So, which games look the most profitable on paper in May? Which games feel like they could really lean on the Jaguars, even after finishing bottom in the NFL for the past two seasons? We break everything down below.
Week 1 @ Washington Commanders
I called a win for Washington in my official predictions, but this game is still an absolute must at this point. Washington has had a better season and arguably has a more complete roster than Jacksonville, but the Jaguars have a coach in Doug Pederson who has a winning streak against Washington. Then there’s Carson Wentz.
Wentz is the Commanders’ new starting quarterback after an offseason trade with the Colts, followed by Wentz and the Colts who had a complete meltdown in Jacksonville in Week 18 against the Jaguars. Wentz turned the ball twice in a 26-11 loss to the NFL’s worst team, keeping the Colts out of the playoffs. Wentz wasn’t much better in the Colts’ 23-17 Week 10 win over the Jaguars, posting his fifth-worst quarterback rating of the season (78.1) and fourth-worst adjusted yards per pass attempt (5.29). Wentz is fighting the Jaguars and they now have a coach in Pederson (and Press Taylor) who knows Wentz inside out and can prepare the Jaguars.
Week 5 vs. Houston Texans
The Jaguars have not had any success against the Houston Texans in recent years, even as the Texans have had their own series of personnel issues and struggles. The Texans and Jaguars have been two of the worst teams in the league in recent years, but that hasn’t made things easier for the Texans for the Jaguars. Still, hosting Houston at TIAA Bank Field is one of Jacksonville’s easiest plays on paper.
The Texans are probably underrated up to this point, but the Jaguars showed some life against them in their second matchup last year. If you assume that Jacksonville’s coaching will be significantly better this year than last year, then it’s not hard to imagine that they could even be the favorites in this game.
Week 7 against the New York Giants
The New York Giants added some well-known rookies in Kayvon Thibodeaux and Evan Neal, but they’re still a young and rebuilding roster that’s been more or less agitated by its prolific veterans this offseason. The Giants appear to be using this season as a bridge to a healthier cap situation as Brian Daboll and Joe Schoen settle into their roles as head coach and general manager.
Daniel Jones has played with his feet throughout his career, but the turnover-prone passer and the relative youth of the Giants roster give the Jaguars an advantage in this instance, especially if Trevor Lawrence makes another move. This is possibly the most winnable game of the entire schedule.
Week 13 @ Detroit Lions
The Lions are a trending choice as an improved team this offseason and for obvious reasons. The additions of DJ Chark, Aidan Hutchinson, Jameson Williams and Josh Paschal are all key moves that bring playmaking ability to both sides of the ball. At this point, the Lions may have the most underrated receiver trio in the NFL, along with playmakers on the running back, tight end, and a strong offensive line.
That being said, the Lions are still a young team who have yet to learn how to win and they’re quartered by a passer in Jared Goff, who likely won’t be an X Factor any given week. If Lawrence Goff can trump, the Jaguars should have a good chance in this case.
Week 16 @ New York Jets
The Jaguars couldn’t beat the Jets in New Jersey last year, but it was a closer game than it probably should have been given how many players the Jaguars were missing through injuries and COVID-19 protocols, along with the Jaguars who are still at it are reeling from the aftermath of the Urban Meyer debacle. The Jaguars and Lawrence kept close with the Jets last year, and it’s likely each team has improved at similar rates this offseason.
The real deciding factor will be Lawrence vs. 2021, No. 2 overall Zach Wilson. Everyone struggled as a rookie due to a number of factors. If one takes a step forward that the other doesn’t, it’s an easy advantage for the respective team coming into week 16.
The Jaguars’ full schedule is as follows.
Week 1: @ Washington Commanders, September 11th.
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Week 2: vs. Indianapolis Colts, September 18.
Week 3: @ Los Angeles Chargers (4:15 p.m.), September 25.
Wheel 4: @ Philadelphia Eagles, Oct 2
Week 5: vs. Houston Texans, October 9.
Week 6: @ Indianapolis Colts, October 16.
Week 7: vs. New York Giants, October 23.
Week 8: vs Denver Broncos (London), Oct 30
Week 9: vs. Las Vegas Raiders, November 6th.
Week 10: @ Kansas City Chiefs, Nov. 13.
Week 11: Bye
Week 12: vs. Baltimore Ravens, November 27.
Week 13: @ Detroit Lions, December 4th.
Week 14: @ Tennessee Titans, December 11.
Week 15: vs. Dallas Cowboys, December 18.
Week 16: @ New York Jets (TNF), December 22.
Week 17: @ Houston Texans, January 1st.
Week 18: vs. Tennessee Titans, January 7th or 8th.