According to jaguars.com, the Jacksonville Jaguars' 2012 season is highlighted by a nationally televised home game on NFL Network against the Indianapolis Colts on Thursday, Nov. 8 and three home games in the first five weeks. Four of the club's last five games are against the AFC East teams.
We all know on any given Sunday (or Thursday or Monday), any team can win. The Jaguars are hoping that is the case.
This season is also highlighted by the fact the Jets come to Jacksonville. Last season, the Jets beat the Jaguars 32-3, which led to the beginning of the Blaine Gabbert Era in the NFL. This time, Tim Tebow may be under center when New York comes south.
The game will be a sellout.
Now that we know the schedule, seen the teams and looked over the intangibles, it's time to predict. It's time to talk. And it's time to get ready for some football. Here is a look at the Jaguars' 2012 regular-season schedule.
Sun, 09/09 at 1:00 PM EDT Away: Mall of America Field
This is one game where the Jaguars may hope that one of the best runners in the NFL is still rehabilitating his injured knee. Without Adrian Peterson, the Vikings running attack is severely compromised.
Yes, there is Toby Gerhart and a quarterback in former FSU star, Christian Ponder, who will have a year under his belt.
The receivers are led by Percy Harvin and of course, he is a threat to score any time he touches the ball.
On defense, you can never ignore the efforts of Jared Allen, who in my opinion is the best defensive end in the game.
This team was 3-13 last season and head coach Leslie Frazier could feel the heat if this team does not get off to a fast start.
The Biggest Question Facing the Vikings is whether Adrian Peterson come back from knee surgery in time for the opening game and can he still produce as one of the best runners in the NFL.
Prediction: The Jaguars have just a little more than the Vikings and come away with a win on the road to start the season off right and win, 23-17.
Sun, 09/16 at 1:00 PM EDT Home: EverBank Field, TV: CBS
The Jaguars played the Texans tough twice last season and lost both of them. Will there be redemption on the mind of this team?
The Jaguars and the Texans have history. They are both in the AFC South and are heated rivals. The running attack for both team is important to the success of franchises.
Last season, the Jaguars faced all three of the Texans' quarterbacks. And Jacksonville could not win!
This season, look for the Jaguars to continue to run Maurice Jones-Drew at the Texans stellar defense.
And with another year on defense, who knows; maybe the Jags come out and take one away at home.
The biggest question facing the Texans is whether Wade Phillips can take the defense that was the best in the NFL last season and keep it a cohesive unit. Although he was injured last year for most of the season, Mario Williams will not be there to count on to rush the passer.
Prediction: I think this is a divisional rivalry game. In most cases, I usually think the teams split games, home and away. This game happens to be in Jacksonville. Advantage Jaguars in a 19-17 win.
Sun, 09/23 at 1:00 PM EDT Away: Lucas Oil Stadium, TV: CBS
This is the fist chance the Jaguars have a chance to see the new-look Colts and have to play them on the road. Welcome to the NFL, Andrew Luck.
The Jaguars pulled off a rare feat last season by beating the Colts twice in the same season. The defense led the way in the victories and this game should not be any different.
The defense is was also riddled last year. That is why the Colts hired defensive-minded coach Chuck Pagano, the former defensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens.
Luck isn't going to be Manning from the start, and he should go through growing pains just like Blaine Gabbert, but not on the same level.
Prediction: This may be Luck's first win of the season. For some reason, a strong-armed quarterback from Indianapolis always seems to get the best of the Jaguars. Colts win, 14-10.
Sun, 09/30 at 4:05 PM EDT Home:EverBank Field, TV: CBS
This is the one game last season where the Jaguars could have won the game and poor time management by a rookie quarterback proved to be the team's downfall.
Hopefully, the Jaguars learned a little someone about the importance of moving the ball in a quick fashion.
The Bengals bring second year studs Andy Dalton and AJ Green to EverBank Field. The Jaguars defense looked impressive last season controlling the game until the fourth quarter when everything unraveled.
The biggest question facing the Bengals is whether the defense, led by its coordinator Mike Zimmer, will be as good as it was last season?
The Jaguars will use a steady diet of Maurice Jones-Drew and hopefully its new receivers, Laurent Robinson and Lee Evans to expose the Bengals secondary.
Prediction: While the Bengals are a better team and one on the rise, I think this is a revenge game (is there a pattern starting?). The Jaguars, with a more confident Blaine Gabbert, win at home, 21-17.
Sun, 10/07 at 4:05 PM EDT Home: EverBank Field, TV: FOX
The Bears signed Michael Bush in the offseason and have Matt Forte, who was not pleased with being franchised by the team. He could be a hold out this offseason, which could also mean Bush gets most of his reps.
The Bears offense could be much like the Texans, where the quarterback, Jay Cutler, passes for a lot of yards, but the running game controls the offense.
How will the Jaguars defense match up against a running attack like that. And, if the Bears draft a speed receiver, how will Marshall and "Receiver X" split the Jaguars secondary.
Prediction: The Bears would have been a playoff contender last season if it has not been for injuries to major offensive players like Cutler and Forte. This year, the Bears may be for real. They win on the road, 31-19.
Sun, 10/21 at 4:15 PM EDT Away: O.co Coliseum, TV: CBS
This game may be a blessing or a trap for the Jaguars.
The team will be coming off a bye and then they must travel to the west coast, where Jacksonville has not done will throughout the team's history.
The Raiders will be led by Darren McFadden on the ground and the arm of Carson Palmer, who will be in his first full season with the team. Palmer played well, but did not get the team to the playoffs.
It will be interesting to see how a year in the Raiders' offense will prove to be a benefit.
The last time these two teams played, but Maurice Jones-Drew and Rashard Jennings ran for 100 yards. Could that happen again?
Prediction: The Jaguars never do well on the road on the west coast. Some of their worst losses have come at the hands of west coast teams. This might be more of the same. Raiders win huge, 34-17.
Sun, 10/28 at 1:00 PM EDT Away:Lambeau Field, TV: CBS
A big loss and then the Jaguars travel to Lambeau Field.
Remember, the Packers were 15-1 last year. Remember, the Packers had little running game and a sluggish defense and still lost only one game.
That proves the brilliance of Mike McCarthy, Aaron Rodgers and the receivers the Packers have.
It will also be interesting to see how this team reacts to losing offensive coordinator, who is now the head coach in Miami.
If the Jaguars are throttled by the Raiders, this game could test the teams mental acumen to see if they can rise to the occasion and give the Packers a game.
Remember also that the Jaguars defense played well against the New Orleans Saints last season.
Prediction: Who am I kidding? This could be over in the first four minutes of the game, much like the game against the Falcons last year. Look for the Packers defense to be improved and look for the Jaguars to struggle against the star-studded receivers Green Bay uses. Packers win, 38-13.
Sun, 11/04 at 1:00 PM EST Home: EverBank Field, TV: FOX
The team faces three gunslingers in a row. First, Carson Palmer. Second, Aaron Rodgers. Third, Matthew Stafford.
The NFL did not do the Jaguars any favors. But there is some hope.
The Jaguars have a better defense than the Lions and the running game is more complete. While Detroit will count on Calvin Johnson and Stafford to light it up, the running of MJD with some semblance of a passing game by Blaine Gabbert (or maybe Chad Henne by now) could mean the Jaguars pull this one out.
Prediction: Like John Denver once said, "Hey it's good to be back home gain." I think this is a game the Jaguars might be able to pull out at home. They will certainly need this one. Detroit, although 10-6 last season, was erratic at times as well. And the defense, although young, still needs to get better as well. I think the Jaguars win a close one, 23-19.
Thu, 11/08 at 8:20 PM EST Home: EverBank Field, TV: NFL NETWORK
This will be the second time the Jaguars see Andrew Luck. He will have more experience under his belt and more confidence.
This game is also special because it is the Jaguars only nationally televised contest of the year and with a 4-4 record after eight games, the team should be feeling pretty good about itself.
By now certain things should have happened. Maurice Jones-Drew should be close to 1,000 yards rushing and Blaine Gabbert should have 1,500 yards passing. If not, it shows this team is one of the worst in the league.
Regardless of the outcome, the Jaguars always play the Colts well. And this should be no different, especially after last season and having lost earlier in the year.
Prediction: It's Thursday night, the Jaguars are home and they have "luck" on their side. Jacksonville wins this one, 24-16.
Sun, 11/18 at 1:00 PM EST Away: Reliant Stadium, TV: CBS
By now the NFL will know if the Texans are serious contenders or pretenders. My thought is the team will be the ones to beat in the AFC. That is bad news for the Jaguars and the rest of the NFL.
Can Matt Schaub be the quarterback the team hopes he can be and lead this franchise to the playoffs?
Does Arian Foster and Ben Tate still prove to be a devastating running attack?
Does the defense continue to get better as the season progresses?
What happens to the Jaguars, riding momentum of being 5-4 at the time? Do they begin their plunge into the bottom of the AFC? This is an important game for both teams.
Prediction: My heart wants me to choose Jacksonville, but the realist in me says this team cannot keep up with a team that gets better as the season grows. Look for Houston to come into EverBank and win, 27-20.
Sun, 11/25 at 1:00 PM EST Home: EverBank Field, TV: CBS
This is the first time the Jaguars see Tennessee this season.
Does Chris Johnson have his "mojo" back? Can Matt Hasselbeck prove the Peyton Manning talk did not affect him? Does Jake Locker have the reins of this team yet?
The Jaguars also play the Titans tough each year. They won the season opener, but lost the second match-up last season. Which team for Jacksonville shows up and how do the receivers do against a revamped secondary by Tennessee.
Maurice Jones-Drew likes running against the Titans.
Predictions: This is a trap game of sorts. Both teams may need this win to remain in playoff contention (yes, I said that). But the home team usually wins in these situations. Jags prevail, 24-18.
Sun, 12/02 at 1:00 PM EST Away:Ralph Wilson Stadium, TV: CBS
The Bills may be one of the more improved teams on defense this year with the signing of Mario Williams. The team also has former Jaguars' linebacker Kirk Morrison in the middle. And the running game of Fred Jackson and CJ Spiller, a Jacksonville-area talent, could be powerful.
Does Buffalo have enough to make a march toward the playoffs?
It will be a game in December in Buffalo, which means it will be COLD.
Blaine Gabbert should firmly be entrenched as the starter by now and his confidence should be greater. The receivers could be the difference in this game. The Bills have Stevie Johnson. The Jaguars have Laurent Robinson.
Prediction: The Bills win this one because of the weather and the weather only, 17-13.
Sun, 12/09 at 1:00 PM EST Home: EverBank Field, TV: CBS
This will be the most anticipated game for both teams. Tim Tebow comes home. If he is the starter by Week 13, look out.
Tebow decided to go to the Big Apple and be the star of the show. The Jaguars could not deal for him. How will that effect this game? It won't make a difference.
This is a sell-out no matter what. This is a game where the Jaguars will rise to the occasion. Last season, they were embarrassed 32-3 in New York, leading to the benching of Luke McCown and the beginning of the Blaine Gabbert Era.
Prediction: Tebow comes home, starts and gets blown out. The Jaguars remember last season and Gabbert has his best day as a pro. Jaguars win, 31-10.
Sun, 12/16 at 1:00 PM EST Away: Sun Life Stadium, TV: CBS
I personally think the Jaguars should play Miami and Tampa Bay each year. But I am not making the schedule, so I lose that argument.
Miami did little to help themselves in free agency and lost out in the Peyton Manning sweepstakes. Can new coach Joe Philbin work wonders with this offense. Reggie Bush will be the focal point of the offense.
The Jaguars, coming off an emotional win against Mr. Tebow, could fall in this contest to an inferior team. The Jaguars even before the season, looked like a better team that the Dolphins. The running game with Maurice Jones-Drew should be able to control the clock in this one.
Prediction: With the first pick in the NFL Draft, the Miami Dolphins select "Matt Barkley, Quarterback, Southern Cal." Yes, I am serious about that. Jaguars win, 23-19.
Sun, 12/23 at 1:00 PM EST Home: EverBank Field, TV: CBS
Back to reality. And this one could really hurt.
We all know about the magic of Tom Brady and the tight ends of the Patriots. He continues to be the fine wine of the league, getting better with age.
I think the Jaguars, who have played above themselves for two weeks, get abused by the offense of New England in what could be a game to help determine home field advantage in the playoffs.
Sorry guys, the game is more about a Patriots win than anything else. Could Brady eclipse Drew Brees' passing record for a single season?
Prediction: Although it is at home, it isn't even close. Patriots put on a passing clinic against Jacksonville and wins, 33-19.
Sun, 12/30 at 1:00 PM EST Away: LP Field, TV: CBS
Last game of the season for both teams. No playoff invite. And really nothing to play for other than draft position.
What will this game offer? Can the Jaguars finish strong? Does being on the road prove to be the difference? Can Tennessee put together a strong offensive performance?
Chris Johnson vs. Maurice Jones-Drew is still a great rushing matchup and should be worth the price of admission. In the end, the home team and the league's leading rusher prevail in a close game.
Prediction: Tennessee wins the finale and splits the season series, 17-16.
This team will be better, but don't expect a playoff berth just yet. I have them winning eight games this year, which I am sure the fans will accept, but not be totally happy about.
But there is progress.
While some games can go either way, there are still issues before the season that will affect the team through the year. First, the health of Terrance Knighton and the defensive line. Can Knighton come back and can Tyson Alualu come back from knee surgery to pick up the slack?
Can Aaron Kampman give this team a lift as well from the defensive end position?
Can Marcedes Lewis come back to his Pro Bowl form? Was 2010 an aberration? We sure hope not. Lewis needs to be the glue in the red zone for this team like he was with David Garrard two seasons ago.
How will this team do against high powered offenses like Houston, New England, Detroit and Green Bay?
Can the defense play like it did last season and will injuries kill the team in the second half of the season?
And finally, what will happen with Blaine Gabbet? This team is committed to him as the starter? It is time for him to stand and deliver.
Final Prediction: Jaguars give the staff and owner Shad Khan hope with an 8-8 record. The fans will not be happy, but the team is moving in the right direction.