Game-by-Game Predictions for Jacksonville Jaguars' 2013 Schedule

Jon ShumakeContributor IIIJanuary 8, 2013

Game-by-Game Predictions for Jacksonville Jaguars' 2013 Schedule

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    The Jacksonville Jaguars began their rebuilding process Wednesday by hiring Atlanta Falcons Director of College Scouting David Caldwell as general manager, according to reports.

    With the hiring, the Jaguars are putting the awful 2012 season behind them. It is unclear if head coach Mike Mularkey will return for a second season, as Caldwell has been linked to bringing in 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman as head coach.

    No matter who the head coach will be, 2013 will be a fresh start for the Jaguars with Caldwell at the helm. Next season will be the first year of a massive rebuild, but the team might turn around faster than expected with a good offseason.

    The Jaguars have a chance to rebound from their franchise-worst 2-14 record, as they play only seven games against teams who finished 2012 with a winning record.

    In addition to playing each divisional opponent twice, the Jaguars will play against the AFC West, NFC West, and the fourth-place finisher in the AFC North and East.

    Here are the game-by-game predictions for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2013.

Houston Texans (Home and Away)

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    The Houston Texans swept the 2012 series against the Jaguars, but they were two drastically different games. The first game was a 27-7 Week 2 blowout at EverBank Field. The second game, however, was an overtime thriller with the Texans rallying from a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit to win 43-37.

    The wins over the Jaguars helped propel the Texans to their second straight AFC South Division crown.

    The Jaguars have always struggled against the Texans. Jacksonville holds a 9-13 record against the Texans, including consecutive losses in the last five meetings.

    The Jaguars will be looking to try to get revenge next season, but it is unlikely to happen. Houston boasts one of the most explosive offenses and dominant defenses in the entire NFL.

    With Andre Johnson and Arian Foster on offense, and J.J. Watt on defense, Houston has playmakers all over the field. Johnson had the second most receiving yards in the NFL with 1,598, and Watt led the NFL with 20.5 sacks.

    The Texans have too much talent for the Jaguars to overcome. The Jaguars have shown they can hang with the Texans, but they are a good offseason or two away from being able to beat them without some luck.

    Prediction: Texans Sweep

    Jaguars Record: 0-2

Indianapolis Colts (Home and Away)

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    The Indianapolis Colts were one of the biggest surprises in 2012, as the Andrew Luck-led team finished the season 11-5 and earned an AFC Wild Card berth. The Jaguars will try to emulate the Colts' success next season.

    The Jaguars and Colts split the 2012 series, with each team winning on the others' home field. The Jaguars won in exciting fashion in Week 3 when Blaine Gabbert connected with Cecil Shorts III on an 80-yard touchdown pass with 45 seconds remaining to beat the Colts 22-17. Indianapolis answered back with a dominant 27-10 victory in Week 10.

    The Colts are going to be a tough matchup for the Jaguars next season. Luck will have another year of experience under his belt, and the offense around him will only improve with time.

    Defense may be the key in next season's games. Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney is set to be an unrestricted free agent this offseason. Freeney's production has decreased since 2009, and he recorded just five sacks in 2012. Robert Mathis' sack numbers have also decreased since 2010, but he still recorded eight sacks last season.

    If the Colts can't get to the quarterback, the defense as a whole is going to struggle. Indianapolis has had trouble stopping the run, and finished the 2012 season ranked 29th in rush defense. A healthy Maurice Jones-Drew could be the deciding factor in next season's games.

    With a healthy Jones-Drew and the emergence of Shorts and Justin Blackmon at wide receiver, there is no reason the Jaguars can't win at least one game against the Colts in 2013.

    Prediction: Split Series 1-1

    Jaguars Record: 1-3

Tennessee Titans (Home and Away)

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    The Jaguars and the Tennessee Titans have been divisional foes since the Jaguars entered the league in 1995 when the Titans were the Houston Oilers. The series has developed into a bitter rivalry, and the Titans lead the all-time series 20-16.

    The team's split the 2012 games, with each team winning on its home field. The Jaguars won a close Week 12 game 24-19 in Chad Henne's first start for the team. The Jaguars lost in an embarrassing performance 38-20 in Week 17, as the Titans scored 28 unanswered points without their offense seeing the field.

    The Jaguars are looking to bounce back and redeem themselves from that performance, and they have a good chance to do so next season. Jacksonville will be forced to stop running back Chris Johnson, who is the Titans' biggest playmaker on offense. The Jaguars held Johnson to just 138 rushing yards in two games in 2012.

    Stopping Johnson would force quarterback Jake Locker to win the game. Locker has been unimpressive in his first two years in the league, completing 55.5 percent of his passes for 14 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

    Titans head coach Mike Munchak is already on the hot seat next season and could be coaching to keep his job. The teams are about evenly matched, but if the Jaguars are able to limit their mistakes they should be able to sweep the Titans.

    Prediction: Jaguars Sweep

    Jaguars Record: 3-3

San Francisco 49ers (London)

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    Although technically a home game for the Jaguars, they will play the San Francisco 49ers Oct. 27 in Wembley Stadium in London.

    The 49ers are one of the best teams in the NFL, and could possibly play in Super Bowl XLVII. San Francisco hosts the Green Bay Packers Saturday night in the NFC Divisional playoffs.

    Barring any major injuries, the 49ers will be just as good in 2013.

    San Francisco has one of the top defenses in the NFL. They gave up the third fewest yards per game (294.4) and the second fewest points per game (17.1). Linebacker Aldon Smith's 20.5 sacks were the second most in the NFL in 2012.

    As scary as the Niners' defense is, their offense has also been very productive. They finished 2012 ranked 11th in points per game (24.8) and total yards per game (361.8), and fourth overall in rushing yards per game (155.7).

    Colin Kaepernick has been impressive since taking over at quarterback role from Alex Smith in Week 10. Kaepernick posted a 5-2 record as a starter. He passed for almost 230 yards passing a game and threw 10 touchdowns to only three interceptions.

    Kaepernick has also been dangerous using his legs; he ran for 415 yards and five touchdowns in 2012.

    If the Jaguars do hire 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman as head coach, it may affect Kaepernick and the offense. Even so, the 49ers are one of the most complete teams in the NFL, and it would take a miracle for the Jaguars to walk out with a victory in their London debut.

    Prediction: 49ers Win

    Jaguars Record: 3-4

Arizona Cardinals (Away)

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    The Arizona Cardinals and the Jaguars are almost in the exact same boat entering the offseason. The Cardinals fired their head coach Ken Whisenhunt and general manager Rod Graves following a 5-11 season. They promoted Steve Keim to general manager Wednesday, someone who was linked with the Jaguars' GM vacancy.

    The Cardinals' quarterback situation may be the only one in the NFL more unclear than the Jaguars'. Arizona featured a revolving door at the quarterback position in 2012 as Kevin Kolb, John Skelton, Ryan Lindley and Brian Hoyer all started games during the season. None of them proved to be too effective, however, and the Cardinals finished the season with the 28th ranked passing attack.

    As a result, Arizona's offense as a whole was unable to move the ball and averaged the second fewest points per game in the NFL (15.6).

    The Cardinals are going to be looking to find an answer at quarterback this offseason, and if they do so they have the chance to be dramatically better in 2013.

    The Cardinals and the Jaguars are almost identical entering 2013. The Jaguars have traditionally struggled on the road against teams in the West, and have just a 3-9 record in road games against the AFC and NFC West since the divisional realignment in 2002. 

    It's going to be a close game, but I think Jacksonville's western woes continue to haunt the young Jaguars team.

    Prediction: Cardinals Win

    Jaguars Record: 3-5

Seattle Seahawks (Home)

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    With rookie Russell Wilson at quarterback, the Seattle Seahawks' 2012 campaign has been a great story.

    They took the NFL by storm and finished the regular season with an 11-5 record and an NFC Wild Card berth. They travel to Atlanta in the Divisional Round, and if this season has taught us anything, it's that Wilson and the Seahawks can never be counted out.

    The Seahawks possess a dominant defense and a punishing rushing attack, which makes them a very dangerous team. Seattle gave up the fewest points per game on average in the NFL (15.3). Seattle has two shutdown cornerbacks in Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman, the latter of which finished second in the NFL with eight interceptions in 2012.

    Their defense can also get after the quarterback as defensive end Chris Clemons had 11.5 sacks in 2012.

    The Seahawks offense relies on its running game, and it is successful more often than not. Seattle's 161.2 rushing yards a game average was fourth in the NFL in 2012.

    The Seahawks are a matchup nightmare for the Jaguars. Seattle's defense should be able to handle the Jaguars' 29th-ranked offense. Jacksonville will also have a hard time slowing down Marshawn Lynch.

    Luckily for the Jaguars, the Seahawks struggled on the road in 2012, and finished the season with a 3-5 record away from home in the regular season. Although that trend is unlikely to continue next season as the Seahawks get more experience, a trip across the country is never an easy one to make. The Jaguars can make a game out of this, but ultimately Seattle's defense will shut down the Jaguars' offense.

    Prediction: Seahawks win

    Jaguars Record: 3-6

St. Louis Rams (Away)

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    The St. Louis Rams are a team on the rise. They finished 7-8-1 in their first season under head coach Jeff Fisher, which was a five game improvement from 2011. The Rams took the division winning 49ers to overtime twice, one of which resulted in a tie.

    The Rams could possibly be without their star running back Steven Jackson next season, as he may become an unrestricted free agent this offseason. Losing Jackson would be a big blow to the Rams' offense. 

    The St. Louis defense will only continue to improve from its very good 2012 campaign. They finished tied for the NFL lead with 52 sacks on the season, and were led by Chris Long's 11.5 sacks. They found a shutdown corner in Janoris Jenkins in the 2012 NFL Draft, who led the team with four interceptions as a rookie. The Rams defense is going to be good for a long time.

    The Rams are a tough matchup for any team, let alone one as bad as the Jaguars were. Jacksonville is going to have a hard time moving the ball against the stout defense, but I think it's going to be a close game. The Rams are just too far ahead of the Jaguars in terms of overall talent, and that will make the difference here.

    Prediction: Rams win

    Jaguars record: 3-7

Kansas City Chiefs (Home)

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    The Kansas City Chiefs finished the 2012 season tied with the Jaguars for the worst record in the NFL at 2-14. With the addition of Andy Reid as head coach, however, the Chiefs became more dangerous in 2013.

    The Chiefs have been looking for a franchise quarterback for years, and may finally have one if they select Geno Smith in April's draft. Even if they enter the 2013 season with Matt Cassel, who is owed a $7.5 million salary in 2013, Reid has a proven track record of getting the most out of his quarterbacks.

    Kansas City makes up for its poor passing attack with Jamaal Charles. The Chiefs finished the season fifth in the league in 2012 averaging 149.7 rushing yards per game. The Chiefs will need to continue to rely on Charles regardless of who the quarterback is.

    The Jaguars and the Chiefs matchup pretty well with each other. Both teams should be able to run the ball, while both passing attacks will most likely struggle. It will come down to who makes the fewest mistakes, and I think the Jaguars can limit their turnovers to pick up a victory.

    Prediction: Jaguars win

    Jaguars Record: 4-7

Denver Broncos (Away)

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    The Denver Broncos are among the favorites to win Super Bowl XLVII, and for good reason. The AFC West winners have an explosive offense led by Peyton Manning and a top-tier defense led by Von Miller.

    Manning and the Jaguars have a long history dating back to Manning's days with the Colts. He has had great success against Jacksonville, posting a 14-5 record against the Jaguars. Manning has completed 71.7 percent of his passes for 38 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in those 19 games.

    2013 will be the first meeting between Manning and the Jaguars since the Colts defeated Jacksonville 34-24 on Dec. 19, 2010.

    Even though he has changed teams, it's still the same Manning as he had another MVP-quality season in 2012.  He threw for more than 4,600 yards and 38 touchdowns in his first year with Denver.

    The Broncos have a very good defense to go along with their high-powered offense. Denver's 52 sacks was the most in the NFL and was led by Miller's 18.5. 

    The Broncos are a complete team, and are better than the Jaguars in every facet of the game. This should be an easy win for Manning and the Broncos.

    Prediction: Broncos win

    Jaguars Record: 4-8

San Diego Chargers (Home)

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    The San Diego Chargers have been one of the most disappointing teams in the NFL the last two seasons, which ultimately cost head coach Norv Turner and GM AJ Smith their jobs.

    With a new front office and coaching staff, the Chargers are looking to rebound from their 7-9 record in 2012. Their offense is loaded with talent, and if Phillip Rivers is able to return to form they should be better in 2013. 

    The Jaguars and Chargers are two teams who are getting fresh starts next season, and a win for either team would be a major help. San Diego has more talent than the Jaguars, but it could be a close game if Jacksonville forces Rivers into making mistakes.

    Traveling to the East Coast has been tough for the Chargers, and they were below .500 in East Coast games during Turner's tenure as head coach. The new head may be able to get a different result, but it's a hard road trip for any team to make, and it will make the difference in this game.

    Prediction: Jaguars win

    Jaguars record: 5-8

Oakland Raiders (Away)

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    The Jaguars would like to forget their Week 7 overtime loss to the Oakland Raiders. Maurice Jones-Drew left the game early with a foot injury that eventually required surgery. Blaine Gabbert was seemingly having a breakout game by passing for 110 yards and a touchdown before leaving with an injury.

    Once Chad Henne entered the game, the offense became stagnant and blew a 14-point lead. The Raiders rallied back to win 26-23 in overtime.

    The Jaguars will try to avenge that loss next season when they once again travel to Oakland, but it's going to be difficult to do so.

    Oakland couldn't run the ball effectively in 2012, and that held them back from being more successful. They finished the season 28th in rushing yards per game (88.8). Darren McFadden is going to have to bounce back and have a big year for the Raiders to improve next season.

    The Raiders' defense also gave up too many points for Oakland to be competitive, allowing 27.7 points per game in 2012.

    With Carson Palmer continuing to be unspectacular, the Raiders are looking at another mediocre year in 2013.

    The Raiders and Jaguars match up nicely, and it will be a good test for the Jaguars. The Jaguars showed in the Week 7 game that they can beat the Raiders with good quarterback play. The Jaguars' quarterback, whoever that may be when these teams play in 2013, should be able to pick apart Oakland's defense and lead Jacksonville to victory.

    Prediction: Jaguars win

    Jaguars Record: 6-8

Buffalo Bills (Home)

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    The Buffalo Bills beat the Jaguars 34-18  in Week 13 on an ugly December day at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Jacksonville couldn't find a way to stop Fred Jackson and CJ Spiller, who combined for 186 rushing yards in the game.

    The Jaguars will be asked to do the same in the 2013 matchup. The Bills will be under the leadership of first-year coach Doug Marrone, and will most likely rely on their strong running game to limit quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick's mistakes.

    The Jaguars ability to slow down Jackson and Spiller will determine if they come out victorious. If they stop Buffalo's running game and limit their mistakes, Jacksonville has a good chance of winning the game.

    Prediction: Jaguars win

    Jaguars record: 7-8

Cleveland Browns (Away)

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    The Cleveland Browns are another team that mirror the Jaguars. The Browns are searching for a new head coach and general manager entering the offseason, and neither team knows if their quarterbacks are the long-term solution.

    The Browns had trouble on both sides of the ball in 2012. They ranked 19th in passing yards per game (214.7) and 24th in rushing yards per game (99.6). Despite scoring 11 touchdowns, rookie running back Trent Richardson average just 3.6 yards a carry.

    Cleveland is going to find out if Brandon Weeden is the answer at quarterback next season. If he isn't, the Browns are in trouble.

    This is going to be an ugly game to watch. Neither team has much talent and it showed in 2012. With Cecil Shorts III and a healthy Maurice Jones-Drew, the Jaguars do have the capability of explosive plays, which is something the Browns lack. If Jacksonville stops Richardson from getting going, they should be able to win this game. 

    Prediction: Jaguars win

    Jaguars record: 8-8