5 takeaways from Jags’ 2021 schedule

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The Jacksonville Jaguars’ schedule has been released, and while it’s one that fans wish came with more spotlight opportunities, there are still some interesting elements to it. As previously mentioned, it ranked 18th from a strength of schedule perspective, which isn’t too bad, especially for a team that’s coming off a one-win season.

The Jags made some major changes within the organization this offseason and many of them make this season one of the most intriguing in a long time. However, the Jags’ 2021 schedule will not only come with the grind of winning on the field for those new faces but the grind of traveling to various locations — even one in another country.

That said, here are five takeaways from the Jags’ 17-game regular-season schedule:

Just 1 prime-time game, again

Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver D.J. Chark (17) runs down the sideline on a catch in the second quarter of the NFL Week 7 game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Jacksonville Jaguars at Paul Brown Stadium in downtown Cincinnati on Sunday, Oct. 20, 2019.
Jacksonville Jaguars At Cincinnati Bengals

The Jags once again were given just one prime-time game, but that's not exactly surprising, even with the additions of Urban Meyer and Trevor Lawrence. The reason for that could be because Jacksonville needs to prove themselves worthy of the spotlight. The team is coming off a 1-15 season and notable names alone isn't going to cut it. Sure, down the road the Jags could be treated like Green Bay, who also play in a small market, but have a star in Aaron Rodgers (well, for now) and have a winning tradition. The Jags could be on the way to that with Lawrence and Meyer, but it appears the NFL is going to make Shad Khan earn the spotlight as he'll enter 2021 with a record of 39-105.

The schedule starts off with some winnable matchups

Nov 8, 2020; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars running back James Robinson (30) runs the ball against Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt (99) and linebacker Tyrell Adams (50) during the second quarter at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The Jags' first games of the 2021 season will be against the Houston Texans, Denver Broncos, Arizona Cardinals, and Cincinnati Bengals. That's a stretch that presents them with some opportunities to stack some wins, while at the same time providing them with some challenges. Their season opener in Houston is one where they will be a rare favorite. At the moment, the team is a mess when looking at the Deshaun Watson situation, which will likely force them to trot Tyrod Taylor or rookie Davis Mills out behind center. Additionally, their defense isn't what it once used to be as the unit finished 2020 dead last against the rush and 30th overall. Sounds like a great game for Lawrence and Meyer to ease their way into the NFL if you ask me. The Broncos, on the other hand, also struggled against the run and ranked 25th in the category. Their offense wasn't particularly intimidating, either, ranking 23rd overall and 28th in the passing game. The Cardinals, of course, will be the hardest team of the stretch. They are loaded with athletes on both sides of the ball like Kyler Murray, Rondale Moore, DeAndre Hopkins, Chandler Jones, JJ Watt, and Budda Baker. In all honesty, for a team as young as the Jags, Arizona can make Week 3 an ugly one, but at least Jacksonville will have the home crowd by their sides. Then lastly, there is the Bengals, who present the Jags with another winnable game. While Joe Burrow will be a year wiser and improvements have been made, it remains to be seen how well the Bengals will be able to protect their franchise guy. Additionally, their defense wasn't all that great last season, ranking 29th against the rush and 26th overall. This slate of games could very well put the Jags in a predicament where they could go .500 at the least, but their offense is probably going to have to lead the way. Their defense will need to have some key moments during the stretch, too, and it could help if they were better against the run.

Tua Tagovailoa and Trevor Lawrence set to meet again, but in London this time

Dec 28, 2019; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Clemson Tigers quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) celebrates after a victory against the Ohio State Buckeyes in the 2019 Fiesta Bowl college football playoff semifinal game. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

One of the highlights of Lawrence's career was his national championship victory against Tua Tagovailoa and the Alabama Crimson Tide in 2019. However, both have now found themselves in the NFL and will get to battle it out over two years later on an international stage. The matchup between the two college football stars could give fans over in the United Kingdom an eventful game to watch. However, the Jags will need to enter this game with some momentum as the Dolphins are clearly more talented and were a game away from missing the postseason in 2020. The Jags will also enter this game with revenge on their minds after the embarrassment they endured last season against the Dolphins on "Thursday Night Football." When reflecting on that game, the X-factor here could be how much help Lawrence receives from the Jags' defense, as they struggled to stop Miami last season and allowed at least a touchdown in the first three quarters.

Things get rough after thee BYE week

Oct 14, 2018; Houston, TX, USA; Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) throws during the second quarter against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The Jags will be taking their BYE week after their trip across the pond against Miami Week 8. However, things get rough after that as they will have a stretch of games where they play five teams that made the postseason in 2020 throughout seven games. Those teams are the Buffalo Bills, Seattle Seahawks, Indianapolis Colts, Los Angeles Rams, and Tennessee Titans. They also play the Atlanta Falcons and San Francisco 49ers in that stretch, both of whom are very capable of making the playoffs. To make matters worse, all of those games against postseason teams are away games aside from the matchup against Buffalo, who were in the AFC Championship. When looking at this stretch of games, winning two games should be considered a success. Anything more would be fantastic for Lawrence, Meyer, and co.

Another opportunity to stack some wins will come during the final 4 weeks

Jan 3, 2021; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. (10) catches a touchdown while Indianapolis Colts outside linebacker Darius Leonard (53) defends in the second half at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Similar to how the season will start for the Jags, it will end with winnable games. The Jags' last four opponents in this stretch will be the Texans, New York Jets, New England Patriots, and Colts. Of course, many fans will immediately list the Patriots as a loss, especially with it being an away game in the winter. However, aside from that matchup, the Jags could add three wins to their record between their contests with the Jets, Texans, and Colts (which will be at home). As we previously said about the Texans they are a mess and should be viewed as a team the Jags have the potential to sweep. As for the Jets, the Jags have had a great deal of success against them winning two of their last meetings against them in 2018-19. Maybe that luck will continue for Lawrence, who will be taking on No. 2 overall selection Zach Wilson in the process. As for the Colts, fans shouldn't rule out the Jags splitting the series against them. Out of their last 12 meetings with the Jags, Jacksonville has won seven. This has allowed the Jags to at least split their seasonal matchups with the Colts dating back to 2015. With that being the case, fans have to like the Jags' chances to beat Indy once, especially if Lawrence is playing at a high level.

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