JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser takes a week-by-week look at the Jaguars' 2020 schedule, which was announced Thursday night by the NFL
Week 1 | September 13
Indianapolis Colts (7-9, 2019 third in AFC South) at TIAA Bank Field, 1 p.m., CBS
Breakdown: This is a regular-season home opener in the division, so it's an opportunity to take early control of the AFC South. But that opportunity will come against a tricky opponent with a new look – and against an old nemesis. This is a talented Colts team now featuring quarterback Philip Rivers, who signed with the Colts as an unrestricted free agent in the offseason after 16 seasons with the San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers. Rivers often had huge games against the Jaguars, and his presence could be the quarterbacking piece the Colts lacked last season after the surprise preseason retirement of Andrew Luck.
Week 2 | September 20
Tennessee Titans (9-7, 2019 second in AFC South) at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tenn., 1 p.m., CBS
Breakdown: Goal No. 1 is winning the division, so Weeks 1 and 2 will set a tone for 2020. The Jaguars' Week 3 victory over Tennessee was a highlight of 2019, but the Titans rolled to the AFC Championship Game and figure to be confident early in 2020. They're always confident against the Jaguars in Nashville, where the Jaguars last won in 2013. This will be an early test for what the Jaguars believe will be an improved run defense, with the Titans rushing for 219 yards against the Jaguars in Nashville last season and 264 there in 2018.
Week 3 | September 24
Miami Dolphins (5-11, 2019 fourth in AFC East) at TIAA Bank Field, 8:20 p.m., NFL Network
Breakdown: This is the Jaguars' lone scheduled prime-time game of 2020 and could be a matchup of high-profile young quarterbacks – if Dolphins rookie Tua Tagovailoa is starting by Week 3. A potential Tagovailoa-Gardner Minshew II could have national appeal. This also begins for the Jaguars a stretch of what appear to be four beatable opponents in five games – if you believe last season's records affect this season's results. The Dolphins last made the postseason in 2016, but figure to be improved in the second season under Head Coach Brian Flores.
Week 4 | October 4
Cincinnati Bengals (2-14, 2019 fourth in AFC North) at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio, 1 p.m., CBS
Breakdown: This will be the Jaguars' second trip to Cincinnati in as many years, with the Jaguars winning there last October to stay in contention. The Bengals will have a different feel this season, having selected Louisiana State quarterback and 2019 Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow No. 1 overall in the 2020 NFL Draft. This could be a second consecutive matchup for the Jaguars against a high-profile rookie quarterback – assuming Burrow is starting by early October.
Week 5 | October 11
Houston Texans (10-6, 2019 AFC South Champions) at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas, 1 p.m., CBS
Breakdown: Perhaps no early-season game looms tougher for the Jaguars than this one. Not only is it the lone game in five weeks against a team with a winning record in 2019, the Jaguars have lost their last four games against the two-time defending AFC South Champions. If the Jaguars want to get back to the first-place status they held in the division three seasons ago, they must figure a way to compete against the Texans and quarterback Deshaun Watson – and they must do it in Houston.
Week 6 | October 18
Detroit Lions (3-12-1, 2019 fourth in NFC North) at TIAA Bank Field, 1 p.m., FOX
Breakdown: This is the Jaguars' first interconference game of 2020, and a third game in four weeks against a team that finished fourth in its division in 2019. Detroit lost its last nine games in 2019 after a 2-0-1 start, and this figures to be a key season for the futures of Head Coach Matt Patricia and longtime quarterback Matt Safford. It's the last game before the bye; considering the potential difficulty of the final 10 games, the Jaguars figure to need to be at least .500 after this game.
Week 7 | October 25
Week 8 | November 1
Los Angeles Chargers, (5-11, 2019 fourth in AFC West) at LA Stadium in Inglewood, Calif., 4:05 p.m., CBS
Breakdown: This figures to be another tricky matchup for the Jaguars. The Chargers will be the Jaguars' fourth opponent in five games that finished fourth in its division last season, but this is a talented roster – particularly on defense – and it's a franchise that historically has been a difficult matchup for the Jaguars. Traveling to the West Coast also has been historically difficult for the Jaguars, with their come-from-behind victory at Oakland last December their first victory on the West Coast since the final game of the 2004 season. Another historical note: This will be the Jaguars' first game in franchise history in Los Angeles.
Week 9 | November 8
Houston Texans (10-6, 2019 AFC South Champions) at TIAA Bank Field, 1 p.m., CBS
Breakdown: The toughest stretch of the Jaguars' 2020 schedule begins with a key matchup. The Jaguars contended last season until a Game 9 loss to the Texans in London started a five-game, season-defining losing streak. This season's home game against Houston will be in Jacksonville, marking the first of three home games in four weeks to finish November. The two games against the Texans in a little more than a month are critical. Houston has won six of the past nine AFC South titles and four of the last five. If you want to be the best team in the division, you must beat the best team in the division.
Week 10 | November 15
Green Bay Packers (13-3, 2019 NFC North Champions) at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis., 1 p.m., FOX
Breakdown: This is the second game of a difficult stretch, with the Packers expected to contend for the NFC title. This will be the Jaguars' third trip to historic Lambeau Field, with their lone victory there coming in 2004. This could be the Jaguars' last game against Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who is still an annual Most Valuable Player candidate but who turns 37 in December.
Week 11 | November 22
Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8, 2019 second in AFC North) at TIAA Bank Field, 1 p.m., CBS
Breakdown: Don't let last season's record fool you. The Steelers are always tough, which makes this another tough game in a potentially a brutal second half of the season. It's also a second consecutive game against a future Hall of Fame quarterback, with Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger expected to return after missing 14 games in 2019. The Steelers have missed the postseason two consecutive seasons. The last time they missed it three consecutive seasons was 1998-2000.
Week 12 | November 29
Cleveland Browns (6-10, 2019 third in AFC North) at TIAA Bank Field, 1 p.m., CBS
Breakdown: Count this as another difficult second-half-of-the-season game for the Jaguars in 2020. No, the Browns did not fulfill expectations last season. But they have a solid roster, and quarterback Baker Mayfield is entering his third NFL season – the year in which many young quarterbacks elevate their level of play. The Jaguars have won the last three meetings between the teams.
Week 13 | December 6
Minnesota Vikings (10-6, 2019 second in NFC North) at U.S. Bank Stadium, 1 p.m., CBS
Breakdown: The difficult stretch continues. This is the second road game against the NFC North in four weeks, and figures to loom as difficult as the road game at Lambeau Field in mid-November. The Vikings somewhat quietly has been one of the NFL's consistently competitive teams in recent seasons; they have been .500 or better with three postseason appearances in the last five seasons.
Week 14 | December 13
Tennessee Titans (9-7, 2019 second in AFC South) at TIAA Bank Field, 1 p.m., CBS
Breakdown: The final month of the season begins with a potentially key AFC South game. While the Jaguars' recent struggles at Tennessee are well-documented, they have won four of their last six games against the Titans in Jacksonville. Whatever the record, this will be a big one for many Jaguars fans. It's Tennessee.
Week 15 | December 20
Baltimore Ravens (14-2, 2019 AFC North Champions) at M&T Bank Stadium, 1 p.m., CBS
Breakdown: While it's tricky predicting schedule difficulty months in advance, this by any measure figures to be one of the toughest tests in the Jaguars' 2020 schedule. Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson was the NFL Most Valuable Player in his second season last season, and Baltimore built a dynamic run-based offense around his skills that dominated the 2019 regular season. The Ravens were upset by Tennessee in an AFC Divisional Playoff – the sort of loss that often motivates a team the entire next season. The Ravens in Baltimore in December? That's a brutal test.
Week 16 | December 27
Chicago Bears (8-8, 2019 third in NFC North) at TIAA Bank Field, 1 p.m., FOX
Breakdown: The contenders just keep showing up in November and December. The Bears won the NFC North in 2018, and many expect them to contend this season after slipping to .500 last season. The major question for Chicago is at quarterback, where starter Mitch Trubisky could be pushed by backup Nick Foles. If Foles emerges as the starter, this game could mark his return to Jacksonville after a disappointing one-year stint in 2019 in which he went 0-4 as a starter before losing his job to Gardner Minshew II.
Week 17 | January 3
Indianapolis Colts (7-9, 2019 third in AFC South) at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Ind., 1 p.m., CBS
Breakdown: The first 15 games determines this one's importance. A possible positive for the Jaguars is they have fared as well at Indianapolis in recent seasons as they have fared in any AFC South city, but the Jaguars must earn the chance for that to matter in the '20 regular-season finale.