JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser breaks down the Jaguars' week-to-week 2019 schedule, which was released Wednesday by the NFL:
Week 1 | September 8
Kansas City Chiefs (12-4, 2018 AFC West Champions) at TIAA Bank Field, 1 p.m., CBS
Breakdown: The Jaguars couldn't have a more high-profile, important opener. If they're going to be a contender in 2019, they will get a chance to prove it at home in Week 1 against a team many will predict to play in the Super Bowl. This will be these teams' second meeting in two seasons, with a 30-14 loss to the Chiefs in Kansas City last season the beginning of the Jaguars' seven-game, season-wrecking losing streak. The Jaguars' defense played the Chiefs' high-powered offense tough last season, losing primarily because of a turnover-prone offense. The defense's task will be no easier this season; the Chiefs' offense again figures to be one of the NFL's best. Will the Jaguars' offense be improved enough to maintain pace? That will be a key question all season, but perhaps no more than in the opener.
Week 2 | September 15
At Houston Texans (11-5, 2018 AFC South Champions) at NRG Stadium, 1 p.m., CBS
To be the best, you must beat the best; the Texans have been the AFC South's best team five of the past eight seasons and three of the past four. The Jaguars' 2017 AFC South title season began with a dominant victory at Houston. It's not a coincidence that memorable game opened the Jaguars' most memorable season in memory. Breaking serve against the Texans would be a critical way to open the '19 road schedule.
Week 3 | September 19 (Thursday)
Tennessee Titans (9-7) at TIAA Bank Field, 8:20 p.m., NFL Network
The Jaguars will know quickly if they will have a chance to contend in '19. Not only do they open against two defending division champions (Kansas City and Houston), their third game will be key to the early-season division race. To win this one they will have to go against recent history. They have lost six of seven games against the Titans, including a four-game losing streak that dates to a 38-17 victory over the Titans in Head Coach Doug Marrone's first game as interim head coach in December 2016.
Week 4 | September 29
At Denver Broncos (6-10) at Mile High Stadium, 4:25 p.m., CBS
The Jaguars' '19 road schedule is stuffed with teams attempting to improve dramatically from disappointing seasons, and the Broncos definitely are that. The Broncos, after five consecutive winning seasons, won just 11 games the past two seasons and replaced Head Coach Vance Joseph with longtime NFL defensive coordinator Vic Fangio in the offseason.
Week 5 | October 6
At Carolina Panthers (7-9) at Bank of America Stadium, 1 p.m., CBS
Yes, this is another Jaguars road game against a team with a losing 2018 record, but this one will be one to watch. If quarterback Cam Newton is healthier this season than last, the Panthers almost certainly will be improved. Another intriguing storyline is the NFL's two 1995 expansion teams playing again in the teams' 25th anniversary seasons. The all-time series is 3-3, with the Jaguars winning in 1996, 1999 and 2007 and the Panthers winning in 2003, 2011 and 2015.
Week 6 | October 13
New Orleans Saints (13-3, 2018 NFC South Champions) at TIAA Bank Field, 1 p.m., CBS
Another early-season Jaguars home game against a Super Bowl favorite, this also will be a matchup of friendly foes: Marrone versus New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton and quarterback Drew Brees, with whom Marrone worked as Saints offensive coordinator from 2006-2008. A more pertinent storyline will be the Jaguars' defense against one of the league's most dangerous offenses.
Week 7 | October 20
At Cincinnati Bengals (6-10) at Paul Brown Stadium, 1 p.m., CBS
If last season is indication, October should be a favorable month for the Jaguars. Of the four opponents, only the Saints in Week 6 had a winning record in 2018. This road game at Cincinnati is another game on the Jaguars' schedule against a franchise that changed direction this offseason, with longtime Head Coach Marvin Lewis being replaced by former Los Angeles Rams quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor.
Week 8 | October 27
New York Jets (4-12) at TIAA Bank Field, 1 p.m., CBS
The Jets figure to be vastly improved from a 2018 last-place AFC East finish, with quarterback Sam Darnold showing franchise-player potential as a rookie last season. This will be the second consecutive season the Jets and Jaguars will play in Jacksonville, and "revenge" could be a pregame theme. The Jaguars beat the Jets 31-12 in Jacksonville last season, with Marrone attempting a two-point conversion with the Jaguars leading by 19 points with :27 remaining.
Week 9 | November 3 | London
Houston Texans (11-5, 2018 AFC South Champions) at Wembley Stadium, 9:30 a.m., NFL Network
This is more than just the Jaguars' annual Wembley game; it also figures to be a key game for the Jaguars in the AFC South race. This will mark the Jaguars' seventh consecutive season playing a home game at Wembley, with the team having a 3-3 record there thus far. This will be the Jaguars' second AFC South game in four seasons at Wembley; they beat the Colts in London in 2016.
Week 10 | November 10
Week 11 | November 17
At Indianapolis Colts (10-6, 2018 wild-card entrant) at Lucas Oil Stadium, 1 p.m., CBS
This figures to be another key AFC South game. The Jaguars have played as well in Indianapolis in recent seasons as they have in any AFC South road city. This matchup figures to be tricky, with the Colts' young roster having the feel of one of the NFL's most improved teams late last season.
Week 12 | November 24
At Tennessee Titans (9-7) at Nissan Stadium, 4:05 p.m., CBS
The key AFC South stretch continues with a second division road game in as many weeks. The Jaguars haven't fared well for a lo-o-o-o-ng time in Nashville, with their last victory there coming in 2013 – Gus Bradley's first season as the Jaguars' head coach. Two of the Jaguars' worst games in recent memory have come in Nashville, with ugly prime-time losses representing some of the low points of both the 2016 and 2018 seasons.
Week 13 | December 1
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-11) at TIAA Bank Field, 1 p.m., FOX
The Buccaneers could have a dramatically look this season, with former Colts and Arizona Cardinals Head Coach Bruce Arians taking over for former Bucs Head Coach and former Jaguars offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter. This is one the Jaguars figure to need to win because it's one of two '19 home games against teams with sub-.500 records last season.
Week 14 | December 8
Los Angeles Chargers (12-4, 2018 wild-card entrant) at TIAA Bank Field, 4:05 p.m., FOX
The Jaguars' home schedule is peppered with brutally tough out-of-division opponents, but perhaps no home game looms tougher than this one. The Chargers and quarterback Philip Rivers always have been a tough opponent for the Jaguars, and the Chargers will be motivated by the memory of a 2017 overtime loss in Jacksonville that helped cost them a playoff appearance.
Week 15 | December 15
At Oakland Raiders (4-12) at Oakland-Alameda Coliseum, 4:05 p.m., CBS
This figures to be considered by many as a must-win/should-win game for the Jaguars, with the Raiders seemingly in rebuilding mode under second-year Head Coach Jon Gruden and first-year General Manager Mike Mayock. A tricky element for the Jaguars is the trip to the West Coast, where the Jaguars haven't won since 2004 at Oakland.
Week 16 | December 22
At Atlanta Falcons (7-9) at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, 1 p.m., FOX
This figures to be a dangerous late-season road game. While the Falcons surprisingly struggled and missed the playoffs last season, this team that played in Super Bowl LI following the 2016 season and made the postseason the next season remains talented.
Week 17 | December 29
Indianapolis Colts (10-6, 2018 wild-card entrant) at TIAA Bank Field, 1 p.m., CBS
The Jaguars didn't have many highlights late last season; the brightest one of the second half of the season was a 6-0 shutout victory over a Colts team that entered the game as one of the NFL's hottest offenses. If the Jaguars improve offensively as expected, this could a home finale with major postseason ramifications.