JACKSONVILLE – A quick look at the Jaguars’ 2013 regular-season schedule reveals the obvious:
This thing is difficult, particularly early.
And that’s certainly true when it comes to logistics, as five of the first eight games – and five of seven games just before the bye – being away from EverBank Field. That includes back-to-back West Coast road games, and another back-to-back out of the Eastern time zone.
It also includes London.
That’s a tough go by any stretch, but that’s the big-picture overview. How does the Jaguars’ 2013 regular-season schedule break down, game by game?
Glad you asked:
Sunday, September 8 | vs. Kansas City Chiefs | 1 p.m. | CBS
The Jaguars open the season against the other NFL team that went 2-14 in 2012. It’s the debut of Andy Reid as the Kansas City Chiefs’ head coach, and Gus Bradley’s debut with the Jaguars. It’s also expected to be the debut of Alex Smith as Chiefs quarterback. A lot of debuting in the third opener at EverBank Field in the last four seasons, but playing at home against a team that struggled last season, this is a game the Jaguars will need.
Sunday, September 15 | at Oakland Raiders | 4:25 p.m. | CBS
The Jaguars head to Oakland for the second time in two seasons. They’re 2-7 on the West Coast all-time, having lost in overtime at Oakland last season, and this is the first of five out-of-time-zone games for the Jaguars in five weeks. Some of these games are waa-a-aaaaaaay out of time zone, so if the Jaguars are going to get off to a good start, they’re going to have to learn how to handle travel – a lot of it.
Sunday, September 22 | at Seattle Seahawks | 4:25 p.m. | CBS
Gus Bradley heads back to the place where he coordinated defenses the past four seasons, and will play against a lot of former friends and players. The Jaguars likely will stay out West the week leading to this game after playing the Raiders the week before, and Bradley sees this as a good bonding opportunity for a young team.
Sunday, September 29 | vs. Indianapolis Colts | 1 p.m. | CBS
This is the lone AFC South game before the bye, and it’s the return of Andrew Luck to EverBank Field. The then-rookie had a huge game against the Jaguars in Jacksonville this past November, and this will be the first time for a young, more-aggressive Jaguars defense against a quarterback many expect to be elite for years.
Sunday, October 6 | at St. Louis Rams | 1 p.m. | CBS
The Jaguars go back on the road. This will be Jaguars fans’ first up-close look at the coach they love to hate – Jeff Fisher – since Fisher joined the Rams. The Rams were one of the NFL’s most-improved teams a year ago, so this isn’t an easy game, but Bradley has plenty of experience against St. Louis after four years with Seattle in the NFC West. This also will be a meaningful game for Jaguars Owner Shad Khan, who nearly purchased the Rams in 2010.
Sunday, October 13 | at Denver Broncos | 4:05 p.m. | CBS
Another game against a guy Jaguars fans love to hate – and another game against such a guy in new digs. This will be the Jaguars’ first game against the Broncos since Peyton Manning joined them as quarterback before the 2012 season. The Broncos will enter the season as a Super Bowl favorite, and Manning has typically played well against the Jaguars. But he never has played against them with Bradley running the defense.
Sunday, October 20 | vs. San Diego Chargers | 1 p.m. | CBS
The last time the Chargers came to Jacksonville Philip Rivers threw all over a depleted secondary late in the 2011 season. That was Shad Khan’s first game as Jaguars owner, the night EverBank Field welcomed him with stands full of people donning moustaches. Much has changed since that night. New Head Coach. New General Manager. By late October, it will be a largely new roster. This is a chance to erase at least part of a bad memory.
Sunday, October 27 | vs. San Francisco 49ers | 1 p.m. | FOX
The Jaguars head to London for the first of four trips to Wembley Stadium for home games over the next four years. Their opponent is a team many will be picking for the Super Bowl next season, and the 49ers will have one of the most talented rosters in the NFL. Bradley’s defenses in Seattle were among the most successful slowing down San Francisco late in the season, and the Jaguars will need every bit of that knowledge against perhaps their toughest opponent of the season.
Sunday, November 3 | bye
After five long trips in seven weeks, it’s not a cliché to say the Jaguars will need a break this week.
Sunday, November 10 | at Tennessee Titans | 1 p.m. | CBS
If you’re expecting a long stretch of home games after five games away from EverBank just before the bye, you’re expecting it too soon. The Jaguars travel to Nashville the week after the bye for the first of a stretch of three road games in four weeks.
Sunday, November 17 | vs. Arizona Cardinals | 1 p.m. | FOX
Home at last. This will be the first game at EverBank in nearly a month, and will come against a team with a new front office and new head coach. There could be a new quarterback, too, with Arizona having recently acquired Carson Palmer from the Oakland Raiders in a trade.
Sunday, November 24 | at Houston Texans | 1 p.m. | CBS
The AFC South schedule gets serious in the second half of the season, and it really gets serious for the Jaguars with this game. The Texans have taken control of this series in the last two seasons, sweeping the Jaguars in 2011 and 2012, but the Jaguars played one of their best games of the 2012 season in Houston, losing to the eventual division champions in overtime.
Sunday, December 1 | at Cleveland Browns | 1 p.m. | CBS
The Jaguars’ schedule isn’t just peppered with road trips in 2013. It’s peppered with teams in start-over mode, too. The Browns have a new head coach, Rob Chudzinski, and a new general manager, Mike Lombardi. The latter is surely to be part of the predominant pre-game storyline if
Thursday, December 5 | vs. Houston Texans | 8:25 p.m. | NFLN
If the early part of the season is about airline travel and hotels, the last part of the Jaguars’ season is all about EverBank Field. This prime-time game against the defending AFC South champions is the first of a three-game-in-17-days stretch at home. The early traveling schedule is brutal, but this is where the schedule-makers start repaying debt.
Sunday, December 15 | vs. Buffalo Bills | 1 p.m. | CBS
A road game at Buffalo was the beginning of the end for the Jaguars last season. After playing well in Houston and beating Tennessee, the Jaguars faded in the second half at Buffalo and never won again. This year, the Bills – like Cleveland and Arizona – are in new-start mode, with new Head Coach Doug Marrone and likely a new quarterback. This is a significant second-half-of-the-season trend.
Sunday, December 22 | vs. Tennessee Titans | 1 p.m. | CBS
Back to the AFC South. The NFL sets up the schedule so teams play in the division late in the season. This year, the Jaguars get the back end of the Titans rivalry at home three days before Christmas. It’s the last of a three-game stretch at home in December, so if the team can negotiate a tough early season schedule . . .
Sunday, December 29 | at Indianapolis Colts | 1 p.m. | CBS
The Jaguars will close out the season in Indianapolis. The Jaguars haven’t lost in Indy since late in the 2010 season, but the dynamics have changed since early 2012, when Blaine-Gabbert-to-Cecil-Shorts pulled out an 80-yard miracle to stun Indianapolis. The Colts sprinted to the finish last season while the Jaguars did not. That, of course, has nothing to do with the 2012 storyline for this game. What will that storyline be? There are eight months and 15 regular-season games to determine just that.