In the first half projection of the Jaguars record, the team started 5-3 behind strong performances from the defense. The Jaguars started the second half of the season with a much needed bye week, and look to secure a playoff berth in the tough AFC South division. Here’s what to expect from the Jaguars second half of the season.
Week 9: Bye
Week 10: @ Indianapolis Colts
Following two consecutive losses, The Jaguars visit the Indianapolis Colts. Quarterback Andrew Luck’s health, or lack thereof, makes a big difference in this team’s ability to perform. The Colts have one of the worst, if not the worst, rosters in professional football going in to the 2018 season.
Despite having a good draft, this team is young and inexperienced, with many holes existing on the roster. The Jaguars, being a Super Bowl contending team, outmatch the Colts at most positions. Jacksonville dominates the Colts in similar fashion to both 2017 games, 36-17. They move on to 6-3.
Week 11: vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Another highly anticipated game hits TIAA Bank Stadium when the Pittsburgh Steelers come to Jacksonville. Jacksonville proved they can hang with the best when they pulled off an upset of the Steelers not once, but twice in one season. The second win came in the divisional round in what turned into a memorable game for Jaguars fans.
The Steelers have one of the best offenses in the league, with mismatches like wide receiver Antonio Brown and running back Le’Veon Bell. Expect more of the same elite offense in this game but the Steelers defense will still be their downfall.
Pittsburgh filled a holes on defense in the draft, but the first round pick of safety Terrell Edmunds doesn’t give this defense the difference they’ll need. Antonio Brown will do Antonio Brown things, however, and keep them in the game. Despite their best efforts, Pittsburgh will come up short once again in Jacksonville, 38-30. The Jaguars are 7-3.
Week 12: @ Buffalo Bills
A couple of underrated stats from the 2017 Buffalo Bills is the fact that they were the number one defense in yards-per-game allowed. Not only that but they were the number one passing defense as well. They had a significant margin over the second ranked Chiefs passing defense by a massive 120 yards-per-game.
No wonder the meeting with the Jaguars in the wild card round ended with a final score of 10-3. Big-arm rookie quarterback Josh Allen, however, will struggle against elite defensive lines like the Jaguars’ due to inexperience.
Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White and strong safety Micah Hyde were breakout players for the Bills in 2017 and were centerpieces in the Bills elite pass defense. Expect the Jaguars to run often in this game and get it done defensively. Jaguars continue to win games by controlling the pace and win their eighth game of the season, 17-9. Their record improves to 8-3.
Week 13: vs. Indianapolis Colts
The second matchup against the Colts won’t be much different than the first. Refer to the previous prediction. Jags handle the Colts again, 28-17. 9-3.
Week 14: @ Tennessee Titans
The Jaguars enter this one with a division record of 3-1. The Titans come in to this game with a loss against the Jaguars in the division. The Jaguars-Titans rivalry is a heated contest and it’s expected that these two teams will be evenly matched come the end of the season, especially considering the young talent on both teams.
Why do they win later in the season? The Titans will adjust and come out playing hungry as they push for a playoff spot in what should be a tough division. This game will be in Nashville as well in front of an angry Titans crowd.
Derrick Henry finds his stride by this point in the season and Dion Lewis will become a potent passing down back that stretches the Jaguars linebackers enough to open things up for Mariota. Titans win this one at home to even the series 1-1 by a score of 26-23. Jaguars are 9-4.
Week 15: vs. Washington Redskins
The final NFC East matchup brings the Washington Redskins to Jacksonville. The Redskins will feature free agent acquisition Alex Smith at quarterback with a young wide receiving corps. The often injured yet talented tight end Jordan Reed is a dangerous weapon when he’s available. Receivers Jamison Crowder and Josh Doctson have yet to take their passing game to the next level.
Washington’s defense has a few key difference makers like linebacker Ryan Kerrigan and cornerback Josh Norman and that showed with their 12th ranked overall defense at the end of the regular season. The Redskins’ passing game will be their downfall here as the Jaguars secondary is too physical for the young receivers. Jaguars win at home, 27-14, and improve to 10-4.
Week 16: @ Miami Dolphins
Losing Suh and Ajayi in one year has put the Dolphins in a bad spot coming in to 2018. The Dolphins had a nice draft that filled a lot of holes with young players but that may be their downfall. Rookie safety Minkah Fitzpatrick could be a difference maker in his first year, but he will be the only impact rookie the Dolphins get out of this draft class. The Jaguars are too experienced at this point to lose to a team with so many holes. They take a win out of Miami, 31-10.
Week 17: @ Houston Texans
The Jaguars final game may be the most pivotal game of their season as they face off against Houston for the final divisional game. Deshaun Watson and the Texans are expected to make a strong run at the playoffs barring another injury. Houston has done a good job building a decent defense and they should be in the running for the division title.
What changes from week 7 to week 17? The Jaguars have been here before and know what it takes. They know what a playoff atmosphere is like now and this game will have that. Their defense is energetic and has fun, which will be made clear in this game. The Jaguars win the division with this game, 33-28.
To recap the Jaguars’ projected 2018 season:
Overall: 12-4 (4-2)
W1: Giants WIN(23-17)
W2: Patriots WIN(30-21)
W3: Titans WIN(14-13)
W4: Jets WIN(23-12)
W5: @ Chiefs LOSS(24-33)
W6: @ Cowboys WIN(13-10)
W7: vs. Texans LOSS(13-31)
W8: vs. Eagles LOSS(14-24)
W10: @ Colts WIN(36-17)
W11: vs. Steelers WIN(38-30)
W12: @ Bills WIN(17-9)
W13: vs. Colts WIN(28-17)
W14: @ Titans LOSS(23-26)
W15: vs. Redskins WIN(27-14)
W16: @ Dolphins WIN(31-10)
W17: @ Texans WIN(33-28)