Fans of the Jacksonville Jaguars hope last season represented rock bottom. The team finished 2-14, marking the worst record in franchise history, and pushed their playoff drought to five seasons. The Jaguars' record over that period is 27-53.
Although it wouldn't be fair to expect the Jaguars to make a sudden transition to the contender category, signs of progress are the key. It's going to take some time to rebuild the roster. If Jacksonville makes the right personnel decisions, things will obviously move quicker.
The good news for the Jaguars is their 2013 schedule features several winnable games, even for a team still working to become more competitive. Here's a look at the complete slate for next season, followed by some analysis and a look at the key games.
|2013 Jacksonville Jaguars Schedule|
|1||Sept. 8 ||vs. Kansas City Chiefs||1:00 p.m.||CBS|
|2||Sept. 15 ||@ Oakland Raiders||4:25 p.m.||CBS|
|3||Sept. 22 ||@ Seattle Seahawks||4:25 p.m.||CBS|
|4||Sept. 29||vs. Indianapolis Colts||1:00 p.m.||CBS|
|5||Oct. 6||@ St. Louis Rams||1:00 p.m.||CBS|
|6||Oct. 13||@ Denver Broncos||4:05 p.m.||CBS|
|7||Oct. 20||vs. San Diego Chargers||1:00 p.m.||CBS|
|8||Oct. 27||vs. San Francisco 49ers||1:00 p.m.||FOX|
|10||No. 10||@ Tennessee Titans||1:00 p.m.||CBS|
|11||Nov. 17||vs. Arizona Cardinals||1:00 p.m.||FOX|
|12||Nov. 24||@ Houston Texans||1:00 p.m.||CBS|
|13||Dec. 1||@ Cleveland Browns||1:00 p.m.||CBS|
|14||Dec. 5||vs. Houston Texans||8:25 p.m.||NFL|
|15||Dec. 15||vs. Buffalo Bills||1:00 p.m.||CBS|
|16||Dec. 22 ||vs. Tennessee Titans||1:00 p.m.||CBS|
|17||Dec. 29 ||@ Indianapolis Colts||1:00 p.m.||CBS|
Note: For a complete look at Jacksonville's 2013 schedule, check out NFL.com.
Based off last season's record, Jacksonville's schedule ranks in the middle of the pack, according to ESPN. The eye test is a little more favorable to the Jaguars, as there are at least eight winnable games on the schedule.
The defending NFC champion San Francisco 49ers are the only home game from out of the division that would seem like a sure loss. Otherwise, the other four teams all have question marks heading into 2013. Division home games are key to any turnaround and will be a good gauge of Jacksonville's progress.
Of course, division road games are always difficult and will be a major hurdle for the Jaguars this season. The other tough road assignments are the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks. With that said, there are three games where Jacksonville should at least be competitive.
Most Pivotal Matchups
The first step toward getting back to the playoffs for the Jaguars is getting out of the AFC South basement. Given the strength of the Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts, that means they should have their sights on the Tennessee Titans.
They finished four games behind the Titans last season. If they can close that gap and earn at least another split with their closest division foe, it would be a step in the right direction. If the Jags fall even farther behind or lose both games to Tennessee, it's the sign of another down season.
Should Jacksonville earn a season sweep of the Titans, the prospects for the entire season become a little brighter given all those other winnable contests. As always, taking care of business in your own division is crucial, and that will be no exception for the Jaguars in 2013.