JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser takes a week-by-week look at the Jaguars' 2021 schedule, which was announced Wednesday night by the NFL
Week 1 | September 12
Houston Texans (4-12, 2020 third in AFC South) at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas, 1 p.m., CBS
Breakdown: The opening of the Urban Meyer/Trevor Lawrence era for the Jaguars comes against another team entering a new era, with the Texans hiring Head Coach David Culley in January – and with the status of Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson currently uncertain. The Texans declined dramatically last season, having made the playoffs in four of the previous five seasons. Houston has won 12 of the last 14 meetings, including the last six – with the Jaguars' lone two victories in the stretch coming when they swept Houston en route to the 2017 AFC South title. The Jaguars are 13-25 all-time against the Texans and are 5-14 all-time in Houston.
Week 2 | September 19
Denver Broncos (5-11, 2020 fourth in AFC West) at TIAA Bank Field, 1 p.m., CBS
Breakdown: The Jaguars' 2021 regular-season home opener is the first of a stretch of four home games in five weeks. It's also part of a stretch of games in which the Jaguars figure to need to be successful, with none of the first four games of the season against teams with winning records in 2020. That changes fast in October, with five consecutive games against teams with double-digit victories last season. Vic Fangio will enter his third season as the Broncos' head coach and Denver hasn't made the postseason since winning the Super Bowl following the 2015 season. The Jaguars won the teams' last meeting in dramatic fashion, with quarterback Gardner Minshew II leading a come-from-behind 26-24 road victory in September 2019. The Jaguars lead the series 7-6 and are 3-2 against the Broncos in Jacksonville.
Week 3 | September 26
Arizona Cardinals (8-8, 2020 third in NFC West) at TIAA Bank Field, 1 p.m., CBS
Breakdown: The Jaguars' first 2021 game against an NFC opponent will mark the teams' sixth all-time meeting. It also will be the first appearance in Jacksonville for Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray, considered one of the NFL's more promising young quarterbacks. The Cardinals appeared to be on the rise last season, contending with a 6-3 record before losing five of their final five games – and they likely will be selected by many observers to push for the postseason in 2021. The Cardinals lead the series 3-2 and are 2-1 all-time in Jacksonville. Arizona has won the last three meetings, including a 27-24 victory in Arizona in 2017 in the most recent meeting.
Week 4 | September 30
Cincinnati Bengals (4-11-1, 2020 fourth in AFC North) at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio, 8:20 p.m., NFL Network
Breakdown: This figures to be one of the Jaguars' most high-profile matchups of the season. It's currently the Jaguars' lone prime-time game – and a potential matchup of the last two No. 1 overall selections in the NFL Draft, with the Bengals selecting quarterback Joe Burrow in 2020 and the Jaguars selecting quarterback Trevor Lawrence in 2021. The Jaguars played the Bengals tough in Cincinnati last season, leading at halftime before the Bengals rallied for a 33-25 victory. This was an AFC Central rivalry in the early days of the Jaguars, with Jacksonville leading the all-time series 13-10. The Bengals lead the series in Cincinnati, 7-5.
Week 5 | October 10
Tennessee Titans (11-5, 2020 first in AFC South) at TIAA Bank Field, 1 p.m., CBS
Breakdown: If there is a game on the schedule many Jaguars fans circle, it's this one – a home game against perhaps the team's most-intense rival. It's an important game this season for the Jaguars because it's the first against a team with a winning record from last season – and it's a home game against the 2020 AFC South champions. The Jaguars moved in the offseason to improve the defense against the run game, and this home matchup against Titans running back Derrick Henry figures to be a key test in that area. The Titans lead the all-time series 32-21 and are 15-12 in Jacksonville. They have won the last three games in the series and swept the Jaguars last season.
Week 6 | October 17
Miami Dolphins (10-6, 2020 second in AFC East) at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, United Kingdom, CBS, 9:30 a.m.
Breakdown: This figures to be a tough matchup for the Jaguars, primarily because the Dolphins appear to be one of the rising franchises in the NFL entering 2020. After a 5-11 season in Head Coach Brian Flores' first season in 2019, the Dolphins improved dramatically in 2020 and narrowly missed the postseason with a 10-6 record – the franchise's third double-digit-victory season since 2003 and their first since a wild-card appearance in 2016. The Dolphins won easily in Jacksonville in Week 3 last season, a 31-13 prime-time victory in which Miami led early and was never challenged. The all-time series is tied, and the teams never previously have played in London. This will be the Jaguars' eighth appearance in London and their first at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Their first seven London games – from 2013-2019 – were played at Wembley Stadium.
Week 7 | October 24 | Bye
Week 8 | October 31
Seattle Seahawks (12-4, 2020 first in NFC West) at Lumen Field in Seattle, Wash., CBS, 4:05 p.m.
Breakdown: A tough stretch in the schedule continues after a Week 7 bye, with the Jaguars taking their longest road trip of the season to one of the NFL's toughest venues. This also could be the toughest quarterback the Jaguars face this season, with Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson very much in his prime and very much one of the NFL's elite quarterbacks. The Jaguars are 0-3 all-time in Seattle, with the Seahawks leading the series 5-3. The Seahawks have outscored the Jaguars 110-32 in the three games in Seattle. Seattle has made the postseason three consecutive seasons and eight of the last nine seasons.
Week 9 | November 7
Buffalo Bills (13-3, 2020 first in AFC East) at TIAA Bank Field, CBS, 1 p.m.
Breakdown: The difficult October-November stretch continues with a matchup that figure to be among the Jaguars' toughest of the season. The Bills, who have steadily improved in recent seasons under Head Coach Sean McDermott, have made the postseason three of the past four seasons after a 17-year postseason drought – and Josh Allen has the feel of one of the NFL's top young quarterbacks. The Bills lead the series 9-8, beating the Jaguars 24-21 in an emotional, come-from-behind victory in November 2018. The series is tied 4-4 in Jacksonville, with the Jaguars winning the last meeting there – 10-3 in an AFC Wild Card Playoff game following the 2017 season.
Week 10 | November 14
Indianapolis Colts (11-5, 2020 first in AFC South) at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Ind., CBS, 1 p.m.
Breakdown: This is the first of the Jaguars' two meetings this season with the Colts, the only team the Jaguars beat during the 2020 season. The Colts have one of the NFL's strongest young rosters, finishing in a tie for first in the division last season and making the postseason as a wild card. The major question entering the season for Indianapolis: quarterback, with Philip Rivers retiring this offseason after his lone season with the Colts and with the Colts trading for former Philadelphia Eagles starting quarterback Carson Wentz shortly thereafter. The Colts lead the series 25-15, and the Jaguars have won seven of the last 11 meetings. The Colts are 15-5 against the Jaguars in Indianapolis, including victories in the last three games.
Week 11 | November 21
San Francisco 49ers (6-10, 2020 fourth in NFC West) at TIAA Bank Field, FOX, 1 p.m.
Breakdown: This will be the Jaguars' first game since September against a team that didn't have a winning record in 2020, but don't be fooled; the 49ers have a capable, strong roster and will believe they can recapture the form that helped them within a few plays of a Super Bowl victory following the 2019 season. The 49ers traded up to select North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance No. 3 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft, so this game could feature two of the first three selections in the draft starting at quarterback. The 49ers lead the series 3-2 and have won the last three meetings, including a 44-33 victory on Christmas Eve in 2017 in the last meeting. The Jaguars are 2-0 against the 49ers in Jacksonville and lost to San Francisco in London in 2013, 42-10.
Week 12 | November 28
Atlanta Falcons (4-12, 2020 fourth in NFC South) at TIAA Bank Field, CBS, 1 p.m.
Breakdown: This is another matchup on the Jaguars' schedule of teams with first-year head coaches, with the Falcons hiring former Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith as head coach in January. Atlanta has missed the playoffs the last three seasons, but this team features a potent offense having added tight end Kyle Pitts with the No. 4 overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft and still featuring veteran quarterback Matt Ryan and veteran wide receiver Julio Jones. The Falcons lead the series 4-3, including victories in the last three meetings. They beat the Jaguars 24-12 in the last meeting in December 2019. The Jaguars are 2-1 against the Falcons in Jacksonville.
Week 13 | December 5
Los Angeles Rams (10-6, 2020 second in NFC West) at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif., CBS, 4:25 p.m.
Breakdown: The Jaguars begin December with their second-longest road trip of the season – and a game that will begin a stretch of four road games in five weeks. They also will begin the month against a team that enters the season with Super Bowl aspirations – and one of the NFL's best defenses. That defense is led by the NFL's best defensive player, defensive tackle Aaron Donald – and one of the league's best cornerbacks, former Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey. The Rams lead the series 4-1, winning the last meeting 27-17 in October 17. The Jaguars never have played the Rams in Los Angeles, with the Rams winning all three meetings when they were located in St. Louis.
Week 14 | December 12
Tennessee Titans (11-5, 2020 first in AFC South) at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tenn., CBS, 1 p.m.
Breakdown: This is another road game in a difficult late-season stretch of road games for the Jaguars – and it's the first of a stretch of three division games in five weeks to close the season. It's an important game for the Jaguars, because they haven't won in Nashville since 2013 – their longest streak without a victory on the road against a division team. The Titans' franchise leads this series at home 17-9 all-time and they lead it 17-5 in Nashville since moving there and becoming the Tennessee Titans in 1999.
Week 15 | December 19
Houston Texans (4-12, 2020 third in AFC South) at TIAA Bank Field, CBS, 1 p.m.
Breakdown: This is the Jaguars' second game of the season against AFC South rival Houston and the lone home game in a difficult five-game stretch in November and December. The Texans lead the series in Jacksonville, 11-8, and have won the last three meetings there. The Texans won in Jacksonville, 27-25, last season and clinched the victory when a potential game-tying two-point conversion from rookie quarterback Jake Luton fell incomplete after Luton scored on a 13-yard scramble with 1:30 remaining.
Week 16 | December 26
New York Jets (2-14, 2020 fourth in AFC East) at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., CBS, 1 p.m.
Breakdown: This figures to be another highly-anticipated matchup, with the potential for a matchup of the top two quarterbacks selected in the 2021 NFL Draft – Lawrence and Zach Wilson, who the Jets selected No. 2 overall. It's also a matchup of two teams with new regimes and new eras, with the Jets hiring former Jaguars linebackers coach Robert Saleh as head coach in January. The Jaguars lead the series 8-7, winning the last two meetings – 31-12 in September 2019 and 29-15 in September 2020. The Jets lead the series 6-3 at home.
Week 17 | January 2
New England Patriots (7-9, 2020 third in AFC East) at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass., CBS, 1 p.m.
Breakdown: With the NFL moving to a 17-game regular season for the first time, this will be the first season to feature two regular-season January games. The first of the Jaguars' two regular-season January games will be its final regular-season road game of the season and will be against a Patriots franchise that enters the 2021 season trying to respond favorably to its first sub .500 season since 2000. The Patriots, who struggled without quarterback Tom Brady last season, selected former Alabama quarterback Mac Jones No. 15 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft. That makes this potentially the third matchup of the season with Lawrence against a first-round quarterback from 2021 (Jets, Wilson; 49ers, Lance; Patriots, Jones). The Patriots lead the series 11-2, with the Jaguars winning 31-20 in Jacksonville in the team's last meeting – September 2018. The Patriots are 8-0 at home in the series, including four victories in the postseason.
Week 18 | January 9
Indianapolis Colts (11-5, 2020 first in AFC East) at TIAA Bank Field, CBS, 1 p.m.
Breakdown: This is the second consecutive season the Colts and Jaguars have played in the regular-season finale, with the Colts winning the finale in Indianapolis 28-14 last season. The Jaguars have been a tough matchup in recent seasons for the Colts in Jacksonville – with the Colts' last victory there coming in 2014. The Jaguars beat the Colts, 27-20, at TIAA Bank Field in the 2020 regular-season opener – the Jaguars' lone victory of the season.