JACKSONVILLE – They’re traveling early and they’re traveling late.
As for the first month of the Jaguars’ 2014 regular-season schedule, travel is pretty much the theme – and if recent history is indication, the start won’t be easy.
The NFL released the 2014 regular-season schedule Wednesday evening, with the Jaguars opening with back-to-back out-of-division road games and closing the season with a road game at AFC South rival Houston.
The Jaguars also will play one prime-time game, with a December 18 Thursday night game against AFC South rival Tennessee.
The Jaguars visit the NFC East in Weeks 1 and 2, facing the Philadelphia Eagles September 7 and the Washington Redskins September 14, and then make their 2014 regular-season home debut against the defending AFC South Champion Indianapolis Colts on September 21.
It’s the second time in Jaguars history they have opened with back-to-back road games. They opened at Cleveland and Baltimore in 2000.
It’s also the latest the Jaguars ever have had a regular-season home opener. The previous latest regular-season home opener was a September 20 game against Arizona in 2009.
The Jaguars have three road games in September, with three of those games against playoff teams from last season. The Jaguars visit the San Diego Chargers on September 28, with Philadelphia having won the NFC East last season and San Diego making the playoffs as a wild-card team.
The Colts have made the postseason each of the last two seasons.
The Jaguars then play three times at home in October, opening the month on October 5 at home against the Pittsburgh Steelers before visiting the Tennessee Titans on October 12. They close that month at home October 19 against Cleveland and at home October 26 against Miami.
None of those teams made the postseason last season, and the Jaguars have played the Browns in six of the past seven seasons.
The Jaguars then visit the Cincinnati Bengals November 2 before playing the Dallas Cowboys at Wembley Stadium in London on November 9. The Cowboys game, as is the case with each of the Jaguars games in London from 2013-2016, is officially a Jaguars home game.
The Jaguars have their bye week November 16 before visiting the Colts November 23, and then they close the month at home against the New York Giants November 30.
The schedule closes with a heavy emphasis on division games. Not only do the Jaguars visit the Colts in late November, December features three division games: at home against Houston on December 7, home against Tennessee December 18 and at Houston December 28.
The Jaguars’ other December game is at Baltimore December 14.
Fourteen of the Jaguars’ games in 2014 are 1 p.m. EST starts, with the exceptions being San Diego (4:05 p.m.) and the Thursday night game against Tennessee (8:25).
The league also finalized their preseason schedule. They will play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at home on Friday, August 8 (7:30 p.m.), at the Chicago Bears on Thursday, August 14 (8 p.m.), at the Detroit Lions on Friday, August 22 (7:30 p.m.) and the Atlanta Falcons at home on Thursday, August 28 (time to be determined).