It's (finally!) game day and we're mere hours away from the opening kickoff between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Philadelphia Eagles.
While the oddsmakers are favoring the Eagles by double digits, I don't think it'll be long before the Jaguars get a win this season. In fact, I think the Jaguars get a handful of victories before the bye week and finish with a noticeably better win-loss record. Which games will they win, and which will they drop?
Here's my predictions for Jaguars wins and losses over the course of the 2014 season:
Week 1: Loss at Philadelphia (0-1):
The Jaguars ruled wide receiver Cecil Shorts III out with a lingering hamstring injury, they have the second-best quarterback under center, and their defense is improved but not enough to withstand Nick Foles & Co.
Score prediction: Eagles win 37-20.
Week 2: Win at Washington (1-1):
The team will be facing a better receiving corps in Washington, but I think Jacksonville's run defense matches up better against a Redskins running attack that lacks speed. It'll be a low-scoring game with Toby Gerhart carrying the team deep into the fourth quarter.
Score prediction: Jaguars win 14-13
Week 3: Loss vs. Indianapolis (1-2):
As much as I'd like to think that our young secondary is up to the task of defending Reggie Wayne, T.Y. Hilton, and Hakeem Nicks, they're not.
Score prediction: Colts win 30-17
Week 4: Loss at San Diego (1-3)
A trip out to the West Coast nearly always spells trouble for the Jaguars. Even though Keenan Allen provides the only real threat in the passing attack, I just don't see a Chad Henne-led offense scoring a lot of points on the road.
Score prediction: Chargers win 24-11
Week 5: Loss vs. Pittsburgh (1-4)
I think this is the game that the Jaguars coaching staff puts in rookie Blake Bortles, and not because Henne won't have done much for the Jaguars offense at this point. I just think Bortles is adjusting to the pro game more quickly than you, me, or even Dave Caldwell and Gus Bradley could have foreseen. I also want to be a romantic and say Bortles wins his rookie debut, but nah.
Score prediction: Steelers win 23-21
Week 6: Win at Tennessee (2-4)
I mean, we beat the Titans in Nashville last year with a worse team. I have to believe the Jaguars prosper against a secondary that lost Alterraun Verne and never found an adequate replacement for him.
Score prediction: Jaguars win 28-20
Week 7: Win vs. Cleveland (3-4)
The Browns are banking on a strong defense to carry a mediocre offense. But I think that the interior of our offensive line will have gelled by this point and Gerhart will have a monster day.
Score prediction: Jaguars win 30-22
Week 8: Win vs. Miami (4-4)
Ryan Tannehill? Lamar Miller? Knowshown Moreno? Everyone outside of the defensive line is underwhelming and beatable.
Score prediction: Jaguars win 28-14
Week 9: Loss at Cincinnati (4-5)
Here's where things go south for the Jaguars season. Behind the Eagles (and possibly the Chargers) the Bengals are the best offense the Jaguars face this year. And the defense is good at bending, but not breaking. I see us matching A.J. Green touchdowns with Josh Scobee field goals.
Score prediction: Bengals win 26-13
Week 10: Loss vs. Dallas (4-6)
If nothing else, I think we'll give London a game that's a little more high-scoring and competitive than last year.
Score prediction: Cowboys win 38-31
Week 11: Bye Week
please no league suspensions please no league suspensions please no league suspensions
Week 12: Loss at Indianapolis (4-7)
If Bortles wasn't put in by now, he'll be the starter after the bye week. And, again, unless they purposely time Bortles' first start with an opponent like Tennessee or Miami, I don't think he'll get the win.
Score prediction: Colts win 33-23
Week 13: Loss vs. New York Giants (4-8)
As of late, the Giants team that plays during the first half of the season is vastly different than the one that plays in the second half. And they have a deep stable of defensive backs to shut down our passing game.
Score prediction: Giants win 20-10
Week 14: Win vs. Houston (5-8)
Why will they win? The Texans quarterback battle is between Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ryan Mallet, and Tom Savage. That's why.
Score prediction: Jaguars win 30-9
Week 15: Loss at Baltimore (5-9)
Like the Giants, the Ravens are a better team in the final quarter of the season. They'll be pushing for the AFC North title and a home game in the playoffs.
Score prediction: Ravens win 24-16
Week 16: Win vs. Tennessee (6-9)
This is the year the Jaguars finish the season as obviously better than the Titans and Texans and challengers for the division title. We're sweeping the Titans for the first time since 2005.
Score prediction: Jaguars win 28-17
Week 17: Win at Houston (7-9)
*See Week 14.
Score prediction: Jaguars win 24-14