We now know how the Jacksonville Jaguars' 2021 season shakes up in terms of the order of opponents. We have known the opponents for sometime, but now we know when the Jaguars will make their west coast trips, when they will have a bye, and more.
So with the entire schedule now released, what do we make of the Jaguars' chances to improve upon last year's 1-15 record? Since the only thing that will change between now and the start of Week 1 is potential injuries, here are our way-too-early record game-by-game win/loss predictions for the Jaguars' 2021 season.
Week 1: Jaguars at Houston Texans
Prediction: Jaguars win (1-0)
As I explained here, there may not be more of a must-win game in Week 1 than the Jaguars and Houston. The Texans are so low in the NFL's hierarchy currently that a loss to them to start the season could derail the entire course of the 2021 campaign. With that said, the Jaguars are more talented than Houston by a good bit.
Week 2: Jaguars vs. Denver Broncos
Prediction: Jaguars lose (1-1)
I expect for this one to be close. Denver should field a strong defense, especially in the secondary, while the Jaguars' defense shouldn't have many issues forcing mistake-prone Drew Lock to, well, make mistakes. This game will come down to how Lawrence performs against Vic Fangio's defense, but I will give Denver the slight nod here due to their more experienced roster.
Week 3: Jaguars vs. Arizona Cardinals
Prediction: Jaguars lose (1-2)
Another home game I think will be close, I am giving the Cardinals the win here just because it will be a third-year Kyler Murray entering the contest as the opposing quarterback. Murray is one of the NFL's best dual-threats and we will have to see the Jaguars finally stop that style of quarterback before we can become convinced that they can do so.
Week 4: Jaguars at Cincinnati Bengals – Thursday Night Football
Prediction: Jaguars win (2-2)
I am not in on the Bengals. They struggled to beat a bad Jaguars team last season with Gardner Minshew at quarterback, so I don't think their middling defense will offer much resistance to Trevor Lawrence. Plus, the Bengals' offensive line is still set to be a glaring weakness despite the Bengals adding a few new pieces. I think the Jaguars win this one by at least 10 points.
Week 5: Jaguars vs. Tennessee Titans
Prediction: Jaguars lose (2-3)
One of the most intriguing games on the Jaguars' schedule due to the Mike Vrabel/Urban Meyer connection, the Jaguars are still a year away from knocking off Derrick Henry and the Titans in an early-season bout. The Titans have simply had their number and the additions of Lawrence and Meyer won't automatically change that.
Week 6: Jaguars vs. Miami Dolphins – London
Prediction: Jaguars win (3-3)
This won't be an easy game by any measure. Brian Flores is one of the best defensive minds in the NFL and will present plenty of challenges for Trevor Lawrence. With that said, I think the Jaguars pull out a victory and avenge last year's Thursday Night Football embarrassment -- the Jaguars have the pieces in the secondary to hang with the Dolphins and the weapons on offense to put up points.
Week 8: Jaguars at Seattle Seahawks
Prediction: Jaguars lose (3-4)
This would be a much more winnable game if it was on the east coast, but the Jaguars will have to travel all the way across the country in their longest non-London trip of the season. The Seahawks have a flawed roster but a good quarterback and a pair of top playmakers on both offense and defense.
Week 9: Jaguars vs. Buffalo Bills
Prediction: Jaguars lose (3-5)
Until the Jaguars' defense proves it can mesh together and offer the resistance in the secondary to stop top passing connections like Stefon Diggs and Josh Allen, it will be tough for me to peg them as winners. I think they put up a fight but just lack the pieces on defense to limit Allen for four quarters.
Week 10: Jaguars at Indianapolis Colts
Prediction: Jaguars win (4-5)
Call me crazy, but I don't love the Colts this season. They are essentially the same team as last year except they have downgraded at both left tackle and quarterback. I think the Jaguars go into Lucas Oil and steal a win thanks to their weapons on offense in Lawrence, James Robinson, Travis Etienne, DJ Chark, Laviska Shenault, and Marvin Jones. Plus, the upgraded defensive line should finally provide a tough wall against the Colts' running game.
Week 11: Jaguars vs. San Francisco 49ers
Prediction: Jaguars lose (4-6)
We have no current idea of who will be starting at quarterback for the 49ers, but I am not sure it matters. They have a stout defense at all three levels, a strong running game, multiple passing-game weapons, and arguably the NFL's best play-caller in Kyle Shannahan. The Jaguars have a good bit of talent, but I am not sure they are ready to throw punches with a team we just saw in the Super Bowl two seasons ago.
Week 12: Jaguars vs. Atlanta Falcons
Prediction: Jaguars lose (4-7)
This was a tough one and I could truthfully go either way on it. I think ultimately the Falcons get the win because Arthur Smith knows exactly how to attack the Jaguars and their defensive personnel, while Matt Ryan is a veteran quarterback who is unlikely to be fooled by Joe Cullen's scheme, at least not to the same extent of other quarterbacks on the schedule.
Week 13: Jaguars at Los Angeles Rams
Prediction: Jaguars lose (4-8)
The wheels begin to come off during this tough second-half stretch. The Jaguars can hang with the Rams at certain spots, but I don't see anyone on the Jaguars' roster who can block Aaron Donald or win one-on-ones against Jalen Ramsey. Ultimately, I think the Jaguars' secondary will be too young to stop Matthew Stafford as well.
Week 14: Jaguars at Tennessee Titans
Prediction: Jaguars lose (4-9)
I think this game will be closer than most Jaguars games in Nashville have been in recent years, but this is still a place the Jaguars haven't won in since 2013. I could see the Jaguars having a better roster than the Titans a year from now, but I am not sold they can pull off a win against their toughest rival quite yet.
Week 15: Jaguars vs. Houston Texans
Prediction: Jaguars win (5-9)
The Texans should be playing for the No. 1 overall pick by this point in the season. If the Jaguars can't beat them while their season is hanging on the edge of a cliff, then there will be bigger issues at hand.
Week 16: Jaguars at New York Jets
Prediction: Jaguars win (6-9)
This game could offer fireworks thanks to the offensive weapons each team will trot out, along with No. 1 and No. 2 overall picks at quarterback. With that said, I think the Jaguars get the win because I don't see how the Jets' secondary could currently contest the Jaguars' group of skill players, whereas the Jaguars have the talent in the backend to hold up.
Week 17: Jaguars at New England Patriots
Prediction: Jaguars lose (6-10)
Bill Belichick is an evil mastermind when it comes to facing rookie quarterbacks. I don't think the Patriots will be very good in 2021, but they are a tough matchup for a rookie passer and maybe an even tougher one for a rookie head coach like Urban Meyer.
Week 18: Jaguars vs. Indianapolis Colts
Prediction: Jaguars lose (6-11)
I could easily see the Jaguars winning this one due to the Colts' own struggles winning in Jacksonville, but I think the Colts will have more to play for in Week 18 and that will show up in the results.
The Jaguars are in an odd spot. On one hand, going from 1-15 to 6-11 would be a terrific one-year improvement considering how badly in the dumps the Jaguars were during the 2020 season. 6-11 would show noticeable improvement and give the Jaguars hope for the future as they continue to reshape their roster.
On the other hand, finishing a few games under .500 would likely be seen as a disappointment to many who are enthused over the arrivals of Trevor Lawrence and Urban Meyer. Ultimately I think the Jaguars are much, much more competitive week in and week out in 2021, but I think they are still an offseason away from being able to get over the .500 mark.
Then again, I said last year they would win six games and we saw how that turned out.