For the third straight year, the Jacksonville Jaguars' lone primetime game will be against the Tennessee Titans. Fine. One primetime game. I thought we'd get two with an offense that proved to be one of the best in the league led by a rising quarterback in his third year, but that's fine. I have no delusions the Jaguars are a good team at this point. They'll struggle to reach 8-8 and likely they'll finish 6-10 or 7-9. Gus Bradley being fired mid-season also isn't out of the realm of possibility.
That means 2016 is the first season in Jaguars history without a home primetime game.
First time in #Jaguars history no prime-time home games.— Ryan O'Halloran (@ryanohalloran) April 15, 2016
But that single primetime game is in Nashville? And the only other games that aren't scheduled for 1pm EST are a Week 2 matchup against the San Diego Chargers at 4:25pm (because it's in San Diego) and a Week 4 matchup in London at 9:30pm. (No, London doesn't count as a primetime game. Don't @ me.)
There's a lot of frustration about the Jaguars not getting a matchup on national television outside of their trip to Nashville, but which existing primetime game would you take out and put that week's Jaguars game?
Week 1 hosting the Green Bay Packers? No, the Jaguars aren't going to get a Week 1 primetime game. Week 2 on the road against the San Diego Chargers or Week 3 hosting the Baltimore Ravens? Small-market teams with 12 wins in the past three years don't get nationally televised games against weak opponents. Week 4 is already spoken for in London and Week 5 is the bye.
Week 6 on the road against the Chicago Bears? Again, why schedule two mediocre teams who play each other once every few years?
Week 7 hosting the Oakland Raiders is the first game I can justify a national audience. Both Blake Bortles and Derek Carr are rising stars, Jack Del Rio is returning to Jacksonville... it's set up rather well. But the NFL went with the Bears at the Packers (okay), the Seattle Seahawks at the Arizona Cardinals (fine), and the Houston Texans at the Denver Broncos (Osweiler returns, okay).
Week 8 is already a primetime game in Nashville and Week 9 is a visit to play the Kansas City Chiefs, a solid opponent who draws good national coverage, but again it's hard to justify.
Week 10 is hosting the Houston Texans and with five nationally televised games already it's hard to add another one. Week 11 is away against a Calvin Johnson-less Detroit Lions and Week 12 is away against the Buffalo Bills. So, no.
Week 13 is at home against the Denver Broncos and again, I could see some sort of defense. But the other games are the Dallas Cowboys against the Minnesota Vikings (good matchup), the Carolina Panthers against the Seattle Seahawks, and the Indianapolis Colts at New York Jets. If the NFL had scheduled the Jaguars vs. Broncos instead of the Colts vs. Jets, no one would bat an eye. And it'll be a good matchup with Malik Jackson facing his former team. Why not?
Week 14 is at home against the Vikings and Teddy Bridgewater and this has appeal for the same reason Week 7 against the Raiders does: young quarterbacks taken in the same draft duking it out. The other games are Raiders vs. Chiefs, Cowboys vs. Giants, and Ravens at Patriots. A little more difficult to make an argument, but there is one.
Week 15 is at Houston (bleh), Week 16 is at home against Tennessee (if this were a primetime game it'd like get flexed by a matchup between two playoff-bound teams), and Week 17 is at Indianapolis (see Week 16).
In all, there are three weeks you could make the case that the Jaguars should be in the conversation for a nationally televised game: Week 7 against the Raiders, Week 13 against the Broncos, and Week 14 against the Vikings. And I have to think these were seriously considered by the league as well. If the Jaguars, Broncos, and Vikings are playoff-bound late in the season, I could see one of those two games being flexed to a primetime spot. If the Jaguars are sitting at 5-7 or 5-8 at that point, well, I can't really blame the league for going with their gut.