After a great 2017 season, the Jacksonville Jaguars will have a much more difficult schedule in 2018. In the NFL, the team’s record from the previous season determines the strength of the schedule. In 2016, the Jaguars finished 3-13, so they had one of the NFL’s easiest schedules.
In 2018, the Jaguars will have a much more difficult schedule. After winning the AFC South and finishing the season with a 10-6 record, the Jaguars will face better teams throughout their schedule next year.
Among those tougher teams will be the Pittsburgh Steelers and the defending AFC champions, the New England Patriots. Luckily, both of those games will be at home in Jacksonville. However, the Jaguars will also face the Buffalo Bills, Dallas Cowboys, and Kansas City Chiefs in away games.
In 2017, the Jaguars did play the Pittsburgh Steelers and Los Angeles Rams, but they had a much easier schedule overall. The Jaguars did lose some games they should have won in 2017 due to their inconsistent offensive play, but they generally played lower tier teams like the Cleveland Browns, New York Jets, Cincinnati Bengals, Los Angeles Chargers, and San Francisco 49ers. The Patriots, Chiefs, and Cowboys are better competition than the Browns, Jets, and Bengals. The Jaguars will have to step up to the challenge to make the playoffs again next season.
Not only will the difficulty of the schedule be a significant change, but the atmosphere in Jacksonville’s locker room could be drastically different as well. Head coach Doug Marrone has made it clear that the Jaguars will go through another culture change this offseason. His revamping of the Jaguars culture before last season played a major role in the Jaguars’ success this past year. He will look to do something similar this season, as the Jaguars’ success in 2017 is not guaranteed to carry into 2018.
The Jaguars will hopefully take another step forward and make the playoffs in 2018, but this schedule will be a blessing and a curse for the Jaguars. The stiffer competition will better prepare them for the playoffs and a potential Super Bowl appearance, but they risk not winning the AFC South and missing the playoffs with a tough schedule.
Based on the amount of confidence and swagger Jacksonville’s team had last year, they should be able to withstand a tougher schedule. The front office will look to the upcoming draft class to fill any holes to an already loaded Jaguars team. A backup quarterback to replace Chad Henne and improved depth at linebacker and on the offensive line are the Jaguars’ biggest needs, but the Jaguars should be able to address those needs through the NFL Draft in April. With a strong draft class and smart free agency signings, the Jaguars will be able to take another shot at the AFC crown.
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