Jacksonville Jaguars: Updated Game-by-Game Outlook for 2012
I've got a confession to make.
Before the season, I did not expect the Jacksonville Jaguars to be a great team by any stretch of the imagination, but I did expect signs of improvement from an abysmal 2011.
I did expect the team to win a couple more games than it did in 2011.
I also expected the team to be in most, if not all, of their games.
Well, the Jaguars have started 1-4 and are on pace to finish 4-12, worse than their 5-11 finish a year ago.
The 73-point differential is the worst among teams that have played five games. The Titans have the worst at 90 but played their sixth game on Thursday night.
While the offense has struggled, the unit the Jags could hang their hat on in 2011, the defense, has been hit by injuries and has been invisible at times this season.
It's not looking good for the rest of the season.
Here's an updated outlook on the expectations for the 2012 Jaguars, because the ones before the season have been ripped up and thrown in the trash.
Week 7: Oakland Raiders (currently 1-3)
The Jaguars will have two weeks to prepare for this game as they have a bye in Week 6.
That will give extra time for preparation and for guys to heal up from injuries.
Will it make a difference? I'm not sure.
That does not bode well for the league's 29th-ranked defense.
Hopefully, the defense will get a couple of guys back from injury, but it may not have safety Dwight Lowery according to Jacksonville.com as he will miss two to three weeks due to a foot injury.
Since the Jags will be coming off a bye, and the Raiders are not the greatest team in the world, I think the they can somehow pull out a victory in this one.
The only way that happens is to limit turnovers on offense and to take away McFadden, which is easier said than done.
Taking away McFadden forces Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer to beat them. Palmer is 24th in the league in passing yards (1,081) and 21st in passing touchdowns (5). He has thrown two interceptions.
Final score: Jaguars 24, Raiders 20
Jaguars' record: 2-4
Week 8: Green Bay Packers (currently 2-3)
The Packers may not look like the Packers of last season, but they are still more than capable of beating the Jaguars, especially in front of the home fans at Lambeau Field.
The only shot the Jaguars have in beating the Packers is to control time of possession and keep Aaron Rodgers and that offense off the field.
The Jaguars can do this one of three ways: run the ball effectively, throw short passes and convert on third down.
Running the ball is an easy idea as the running back, Maurice Jones-Drew, is the best offensive weapon.
Throwing short passes can be just as effective in chewing up clock as the run game and it doesn't leave Blaine Gabbert open as much to sacks from Clay Matthews and company.
Converting third downs is what separates good teams from great teams. So far, the Jaguars are neither.
The Jags are currently 27th in the league in third down percentage at 31.3 percent.
With all of that said, the Jaguars simply do not match up with the Packers, especially if the Packers go 1-1 in the next two games (against Houston and St. Louis).
If they go 1-1, that leaves them at 3-4 heading into the Jaguars game. The Packers will not fall to 3-5.
Final score: Packers 35, Jaguars 14
Jaguars' record: 2-5
Week 9: Detroit Lions (currently 1-3)
For reasons unknown to me, the Jaguars have had an uncanny ability over the last couple of years to make average teams look very good when they play them.
It happened in 2011 when the Jaguars hosted the 4-7 Chargers, but were routed 38-14 on national television.
This game seems like it will be the exact same thing.
The Lions have not been a good football team this season. They have been undisciplined in many areas, and their current record shows it.
Or they could be in desperate need to right the ship, and what a better team to face than the Jaguars.
This seems like one of those games where Calvin Johnson simply has a field day against the Jaguars' secondary and has his first big game of the season.
The Jaguars are currently 22nd in the NFL against the pass and opposing quarterbacks complete 62.4 percent of their passes, 19th in the NFL.
Sounds like we're going to hear Matt Stafford to Johnson a lot during this one.
Final score: Lions 38, Jaguars 17
Jaguars' record: 2-6
Week 10: Indianapolis Colts (currently 2-2)
The Colts gutted out an emotional victory over the Packers last week and will carry that emotion of their ailing head coach throughout the rest of the season.
Quarterback Andrew Luck is sure to improve as the season goes along, but he may hit a bit of a wall against the Jaguars.
Most teams have been caught by surprise by Luck and the Colts because they don't have any film on him. Since the Jaguars already have film on him, courtesy of a Week 3 win, they will be better prepared than most.
All of this will result in the Jags' third win of the season and the first in front of the home fans in Jacksonville. It's pretty sad that the first home win may not come until November 8, but that could be a reality before you know it.
The game plan for the Jaguars should be to run the football. The Colts are surprisingly the third-best pass defense in the NFL, but they are 17th against the run.
That should mean a heavy dose of Maurice Jones-Drew.
Final score: Jaguars 24, Colts 17
Jaguars' record: 3-6
Week 11: Houston Texans (currently 5-0)
This game could have playoff implications...for the Texans.
Let's be honest here. The Texans are not only the class of the AFC South but also the AFC and possibly even the league, meaning this game should not be close.
It should look like a mirror image of their Week 2 meeting in Jacksonville when the Jaguars lost 27-7.
Now that isn't the worst loss ever, but when you give up more than 200 yards on the ground, it makes it look a lot worse.
The Texans are a big reason why the Jaguars are currently 29th against the run, giving up an average of 163 yards per game.
That will continue in Week 11.
How could the Jaguars beat the Texans? Quite frankly, I don't know.
I could say keep it close and keep their offense off the field, but then that leaves more time for J.J Watt and the defense to do bodily harm.
Either way, this game should not be close.
Final score: Texans 31, Jaguars 10
Jaguars' record: 3-7
Week 12: Tennessee Titans (currently 2-4)
The Titans earned a big victory Thursday night, but that was against an injury-depleted Pittsburgh Steeler team that could barely field five linemen.
The Titans' other victory came over the undisciplined Lions who went for it on fourth down in when they shouldn't have: in overtime.
The Titans could use Thursday's win to spur some momentum moving forward, but nothing that I have seen so far leads me to believe that the Jaguars could not beat them in Jacksonville, and I believe they will.
The Jaguars are not good against the run, but the Titans are not much better, giving up an average of 129 yards per game (25th in the NFL).
Once again, that should mean a heavy dose of Maurice Jones-Drew, but this could also mean a big game for Blaine Gabbert as well.
The Titans are currently 30th in the NFL in giving up 292 passing yards per game.
Look for Gabbert to show some his talents in this one.
Final score: Jaguars 21, Titans 17
Jaguars' record: 4-7
Week 13: Buffalo Bills (currently 2-3)
This is one that I struggle with.
The Jaguars are inept on offense, especially passing the ball.
The Bills can actually move the ball but turn the ball over far too much.
After giving this a lot of thought, I have determined that this will come down to who can run the ball the best.
Since this game will be in Buffalo in December, the winds will be howling. The conditions will not be for passing.
Couple that with the fact that I do not trust either quarterback as far as I can throw them (pun), the team that has a more effective run game will win.
Neither team is good against the run. The Jags are 29th in the NFL and Bills are actually one spot worse at 30th.
But Buffalo is more productive at running the football. They're actually among the best in the league averaging 144 yards per game, fifth in the NFL. The Jags are only 18th.
With that said, the Bills should win this game, but it will not be pretty. It will be three yards and a cloud of dust kind of game. Since the Bills play on FieldTurf, it will be three yards and a cloud of rubber game.
Final score: Bills 14, Jaguars 10
Jaguars' record: 4-8
Week 14: New York Jets (currently 2-3)
This could have the makings of another one of those games where Jaguars make an average team look dominant for one week.
It happened against the Jets in 2011 when they crushed the Jags, 32-3.
However, I think the Jaguars will buck this startling trend with this one.
No, Tim Tebow will not come to Jacksonville and haunt Jaguars' fans for the team not drafting or trading for him. So don't worry about that.
There are three reasons why the Jaguars could win this game: Jets lack identity on offense, no Darrelle Revis in the secondary and the Jets are terrible against the run.
The Jets simply don't know who they are on offense. They try to pound the rock with Shonn Greene, let Mark Sanchez air it out and run the Wildcat all in one game plan.
Not having Revis in the secondary is terrible for a team that cannot rush the passer.
And the Jets are 31st in the league in run defense giving up 172 yards per game.
All of this should spell out a Jaguars victory.
Final score: Jaguars 17, Jets 14
Jaguars' record: 5-8
Week 15: Miami Dolphins (currently 2-3)
The Dolphins have impressed me thus far through 2012.
They have been competitive in almost every game and picked up a big over a 2011 playoff team in the Cincinnati Bengals last week.
They currently have the league's best run defense, but is 28th against the pass. That should not matter much as the Jaguars have the worst passing attack in the league.
On paper, these teams are essentially even, but the Dolphins have simply looked more impressive so far this season, which means I have to give them the victory here.
The Jags could win if they exploit Miami's porous pass defense and force Ryan Tannehill to beat them.
The likelihood of the former happening is not very high, which should mean Maurice Jones-Drew being forced to shoulder the load against a good run defense.
Final score: Dolphins 28, Jaguars 10
Jaguars' record: 5-9
Week 16: New England Patriots (currently 3-2)
The Jaguars have never fared well against the Patriots. They Jags are 1-5 against the Patriots during the regular season and 1-8 if you count the playoffs.
The only win over the Patriots took place during the 1998 Wild Card Playoffs when the Jags beat the Pats, 25-10.
The Jaguars have lost to the Patriots in the playoffs three times.
They won't have to worry about the playoffs this year as they will drop to 1-9 all time against New England.
Is there really a need for in-depth analysis here? The Patriots have Tom Brady: three-time Super Bowl champion, two-time NFL MVP. On the other side, Blaine Gabbert, the league's 30th-best passer.
Final score: Patriots 35, Jaguars 17
Jaguars' record: 5-10
Week 17: Tennessee Titans (currently 2-4)
Well this is the end of the line.
Another losing season for the Jaguars will wind down in Tennessee against the Titans.
Although I picked the Jaguars to defeat the Titans earlier in the season, the Titans will enact revenge against the Jaguars in the season finale and put to end another miserable season for the Jags.
A 5-11 season will not cost head Mike Mularkey his job, as he is in his first season at the helm.
But it may cost Blaine Gabbert his job moving forward.
The Jags will go down swinging, however, and will keep it close, but the Titans will rule the day and put the Jags on the clock for possibly another quarterback in April.
FInal score: Titans 24, Jaguars 20
Jaguars' record: 5-11