It’s unfair, but the comparisons of Leonard Fournette (Jacksonville Jaguars) and Ezekiel Elliott (Dallas Cowboys) are going to continue. Both are big running backs, attended high profile schools and were selected with the fourth pick in the NFL Draft.
Elliott proved to be the bruising back the Cowboys needed (along with Dak Prescott) to lead Dallas back to the playoffs.
Fournette is expected to do the same – although the expectations may not be fair. The Cowboys had the best offensive line in the NFL. The Jacksonville Jaguars are average at best. What Fournette has going for him is a new head coach in Doug Marrone, a new lease on his career in quarterback Blake Bortles and three talented wide receivers on the Jaguars’ roster.
This is a franchise that is tired of losing and management wants a winner.
The NFL scheduling committee did the Jacksonville Jaguars no favors in putting together their 2017 opponents. Unlike a lot of media members, I think this team could surprise us all and tease a playoff run this coming season. Here is a look at the Jaguars’ head-to-head opponents.
Week 1 at Houston Texans
The Jaguars start out of the gate on the road against the division winner from last season. Presumably, Deshaun Watson will be behind center. How awful would it be if a rookie quarterback beats the Jaguars? And if you haven’t forgotten, JJ Watt loves to play against Jacksonville
Houston 24 Jacksonville 20 Jacksonville 0-1
Week 2 vs. Tennessee Titans
The Jaguars come home already down a game in the division and have possibly the best team in the AFC South. Also, the secondary will be tested early with Corey Davis on the field. In addition, Jacksonville will also have to contain a very good Titans running game. Consequently, I see the Jaguars pulling this one out late.
Jacksonville 28 Tennessee 27 Jacksonville 1-1
Week 3 vs. Baltimore Ravens (London)
After losing their first two games overseas, the Jaguars have won their last two. London has become Jacksonville’s home away from home. Baltimore is rumored to be traveling to the game by ship so they can practice all week and keep the team together. Jaguars own Wembley Field
Jacksonville 33 Baltimore 28 Jacksonville 2-1
Week 4 at New York Jets
Trap game. The Jaguars come back to the mainland riding a two-game winning streak. The Jets are in the same position as Jacksonville – a team that needs a winning season. While the Jacksonville Jaguars have a better roster and a better quarterback – I said that. Still, traveling to New York after in weekend in London will play on the players’ bodies.
New York Jets 23 Jacksonville 20 Jacksonville 2-2
Week 5 at Pittsburgh Steelers
From London to New York to Pittsburgh. The scheduling gods must not like Jacksonville. I think the Steeler are on a mission to get Big Ben one more ring before he retires. This offense could give Jacksonville fits all day. The defense isn’t bad, either.
Pittsburgh 34 Jacksonville 23 Jacksonville 3-2
Week 6 vs. Los Angeles Rams
The Rams could be a surprise team this year. The Jaguars will be ready to stop the running game, namely Todd Gurley. Jacksonville doesn’t fare well when it has to travel across the country. Let’s see how the Rams and second-year quarterback Jared Goff do.
Jacksonville 24 Los Angeles 20 Jacksonville 3-3
Week 7 at Indianapolis Colts
The Colts are one of those teams – much like Jacksonville – that you aren’t sure which team will show up weekly. Additionally, Andrew Luck has the ability to pick apart any team he faces. Furthermore, the defense will be better this year and Luck has a few more weapons at his disposal. So, this all comes down to who hosts this game. Thus, take the Colts in a close one.
Indianapolis 31 Jacksonville 27 Jacksonville 3-4
Week 8 BYE
Week 9 vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Coming off the bye week, will the Jaguars jump out of their cages to a fast start? The Bengals will showcase a new running game with Joe Mixon and a healthy AJ Green. Andy Dalton is still a solid passer and the Bengals defense is pretty good. However, if Jacksonville is to make a statement, this is the game to do it.
Jacksonville 24 Cincinnati 23 Jacksonville 4-4
Week 10 vs. Los Angeles Chargers
The return of Gus Bradley. For all we know, the Chargers could have the best defense in the league under the former Jags head coach. This is one of those games if Jacksonville loses to the Chargers and Bradley, the media is going to blow them up. Not this week. The Jaguars finally beat Philip Rivers
Jacksonville 31 Los Angeles 28 Jacksonville 5-4
Week 11 at Cleveland Browns
I have a friendly jersey wager on this one. The Browns have plenty of rookie talent to make things interesting this season. On the other hand, the Jacksonville Jaguars have a better roster. Not to mention, if the Browns and Jaguars are going to stop the madness of losing seasons, it starts this year. Nevertheless, look for Jacksonville to win a tight one. Sorry, Robert.
Jacksonville 28 Cleveland 24 Jacksonville 6-4
Week 12 at Arizona
The bubble bursts this week. I cannot expect my Jags to win every game and coming off three straight wins, the Cardinals pose a great threat at home. Carson Palmer can still sling it all over the field, testing the secondary and forcing the defense into mistakes. This could get ugly early. Every team has one of these games.
Arizona 41 Jacksonville 20 Jacksonville 6-5
Week 13 vs. Indianapolis Colts
Hey, it’s good to be back home again. The thing about divisional games is they all mean something. The Jaguars playing at home should be able to refocus on reaching the playoffs and showing their AFC South brother this team is better than advertised. By now, Blake Bortles should be 3,000 yards in as a passer and 25 touchdowns to his credit. I like the home team in this one.
Jacksonville 35 Indianapolis 31 Jacksonville 7-5
Week 14 vs. Seattle Seahawks
The second of the final three home games of the season. Jacksonville faces a Seahawks team I don’t think will be as strong as they were last season. Russell Wilson is still “the man” in Seattle and makes the offense run. Jacksonville has a chance to knock off an NFC powerhouse but still comes up short.
Seattle 20 Jacksonville 17 Jacksonville 8-5
Week 15 vs. Houston Texans
I want to give the Jacksonville Jaguars the win here, but realistically, it’s a tough decision. By now, Deshaun Watson has become this year’s Dak Prescott and the Texans are already a playoff team. The defense led by JJ Watt and Jadeveon Clowney is destroying opponents. It may not be an 8-sack day for Blake Brotles, but the defense will give him nightmares.
Houston 33 Jacksonville 23 Jacksonville 8-6
Week 16 at San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers may be the worst team in the NFL by the end of the season. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if they were in the hunt for the right to draft one of the top quarterbacks in next year’s draft class. The Jaguars are still in the hunt for the playoffs, but they need this win to keep hope alive.
Jacksonville 24 San Francisco 13 Jacksonville 9-6
Week 17 at Tennessee Titans
The Jaguars have to win this game and have various playoff scenarios to play out. The Titans are vastly improved over last season and riding the momentum. The Tennessee running game is too much for the Jaguars to handle on the road. Hence, the Jaguars miss out on the playoffs again this season.
Tennessee 21 Jacksonville 17 Jacksonville 9-7
In the End: The Jacksonville Jaguars show improvement under Doug Marrone and their rookies and new free agents help the team take a giant step forward. Jacksonville does not make the playoffs this season, but 2018 is the year everyone will take notice of this AFC South franchise.