With training camp underway and the preseason fast approaching, Last Word on Pro Football is analyzing the schedules of all 32 NFL teams. Each team’s 16-game slate will be split into its most difficult (1-8) and easiest games (9-16). The focus of this article is to highlight the Jacksonville Jaguars most difficult games during the 2020 season.
Jacksonville Jaguars Most Difficult Games in 2020
1. Week 15: at Baltimore Ravens
Though the Ravens post-season went downhill right away last year, they might have the best roster in the NFL. The Ravens bring a creative run-heavy offense that will showcase Lamar Jackson, Mark Ingram, and J.K. Dobbins. On defense, they have one of the best defensive coordinators in the league right now in Wink Martindale, and they consistently finish among the top defensive units each year. Aside from the Patriots, there hasn’t been a more consistent defense year to year in recent memory. This defense should be able to keep up its success with some new additions, including trading with Jacksonville for Calais Campbell. You could also make the argument that they have the best secondary in the league. All of this talent will prove to be tough for Jacksonville to handle and is easily their hardest game of the year.
2. Week 10: at Green Bay Packers
Though the Packers did not acquire much help during this off-season and instead looked to build for the future with their biggest acquisition in Jordan Love, they are just one year removed from a 13-3 record. Aaron Rodgers is still the focal point of this offense at the moment and could end up torching a young Jacksonville secondary. The Packers also had one of the better pass defenses in the league last season headlined by Jaire Alexander, who is quickly becoming one of the top corners in the league. When you add that Jacksonville is playing in Lambeau Field, this game should prove to be one of the hardest games of the year.
3. Week 13: at Minnesota Vikings
Another tough game later in Jacksonville’s schedule is playing Minnesota on the road. The Vikings did lose a considerable number of starters on defense as well as Stefon Diggs this off-season but will still be competitive next year. A run-heavy attack featuring Dalvin Cook will again be a focal key part of their offense that Jacksonville may end up struggling against. Mike Zimmer also is one of the better defensive minds in the entire NFL. This game shapes up to be one of Jacksonville’s hardest, but they can still take advantage of their young cornerbacks, and a weakened defensive line.
4. Week 17: at Indianapolis Colts
Jacksonville will end their season on the road playing the Colts after opening the season against the division rival. The Colts have upgraded their roster tremendously throughout the off-season and should be a harder matchup than previous years. This was also the first year that the Colts used up a lot of cap space in acquiring players under Chris Ballard by adding Philip Rivers and trading for then signing Deforest Buckner. Ballard continued an excellent off-season with another quality draft that saw him add immediate impact players in Jonathan Taylor and Michael Pittman. When you add on that this game is on the road and it’s likely to have playoff implications for the Colts, it seems likely that this will be the hardest in the division game for Jacksonville.
5. Week 2: at Tennessee Titans
Jacksonville will have a key matchup early in the season, Week 2 against the Titans. Teams that start 0-2 have only made the playoffs about 12 percent of the time since 2012, and the first two games being within division make it even more critical. Derrick Henry has punished the Jaguars consistently throughout his career and losing Marcell Dareus and Calais Campbell will almost certainly show up against him. However, Ryan Tannehill is likely to regress, and Jacksonville’s edge rushers can take advantage of whichever right tackle ends up starting for the Titans. An early win in Nashville will be tough but would mean a lot for the rest of the Jaguars season.
6. Week 11: vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
The Jaguars may have had some recent success against the Steelers, but this doesn’t make them an easy matchup by any stretch of the imagination. Last year, the Steelers went 9-7 and were a fringe playoff team while dealing with Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges as their quarterbacks. If Ben Roethlisberger can return to form, the Steelers should be a favorite to make the playoffs. The Steelers also had one of the best defenses last year, which will be one of the toughest matchups for Gardner Minshew and the rest of the offense face all year.
7. Week 8: at Los Angeles Chargers
After a disappointing 2019 season, the Chargers made a significant change in not re-signing Philip Rivers. Anthony Lynn will finally be able to use the rollout passes, and option plays that he was known for when offensive coordinator in Buffalo with Tyrod Taylor. However, the last time we saw Taylor start, it ended poorly after just three games in Cleveland. Rookie quarterback Justin Herbert could be starting by this game, but rookie quarterbacks historically don’t perform well their first year. Jacksonville will also face their former head coach Gus Bradley. Jacksonville is very familiar with his defense as he is still predominantly using cover 3, just like the Jaguars. Despite a blowout loss against the Chargers last year, Jacksonville still has a good chance of getting a win right after the bye week.
8. Week 12: vs. Cleveland Browns
The Cleveland Browns may not have had the 2019 season many expected but are still a very talented team nonetheless. New head coach Kevin Stefanski is expected to bring a run-heavy offense featuring the best running back duo in Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. Baker Mayfield and Odell Beckham should both have better seasons this year as well. Combine this with an upgraded offensive line, and the return of Myles Garrett and the Browns could finally have the breakout season many expected last year. Still, Jacksonville will be playing at home and should be able to take advantage of their pass defense in the middle of the field. The Browns also had one of the worst run defenses last year according to run defense dvoa that Leonard Fournette and the rest of the running back corps should be able to take advantage of.