(April 14)—The Jaguars were handed a much more balanced schedule today than they were a year ago, when then-rookie head coach Jack Del Rio and his team were embarking on what would become a rebuilding season.
Two of the Jaguars' first four and last four games will be played at Alltel Stadium, the Jaguars will play only one cold-weather game and the bye week is in the absolute middle of their schedule. Though they were denied a Monday night game for the third consecutive season, the Jaguars will host a nationally-televised Sunday night game against Pittsburgh on Dec. 5.
It remains the schedule of a low-profile team, but it's also the kind of schedule that can catapult a team into the league's higher ranks.
There are no apparent rough spots on this schedule, as opposed to last year's, which saw the Jaguars play on the road three times in the first four weeks. There should be no complaints this year. The Jaguars will be on a full week's rest for every game on their schedule, which includes 13 games with 1 p.m. eastern-time kickoffs.
Clearly, it's the kind of schedule coaches like. Only three of the Jaguars' 10 non-division opponents made the playoffs last season, and two of those three games will be at Alltel Stadium.
The 2004 schedule opens with a Sept. 12 game in Buffalo, where the Jaguars will face a Bills team that has a new coaching staff. A week later, the Jaguars will open their home season against Denver.
The first feature contest of the season will occur in week three, when the Jaguars will play at AFC South Division rival Tennessee. Eight weeks later, on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, the Jaguars will host the Titans.
Dec. 19 is a date to circle, as the Jaguars travel to Green Bay's "Frozen Tundra" for a game against the Packers. It'll mark the Jaguars' first-ever game at Lambeau Field.
The Jaguars' two west coast trips are nicely spaced; at San Diego on Oct. 10 and at Oakland on Jan. 2, the final weekend of the regular season.
What after that? The playoffs? It's a schedule that might offer that potential.