With the NFL Draft wrapped up and the NFL schedule fully released, we can officially look forward to the 2023-24 regular season.
Here’s our full game-by-game predictions.
Week 1: Jaguars at Colts
Score prediction: 21-18 (W)
Jacksonville drew a great season opener. They haven’t won at Lucas Oil Stadium since 2017, but the Colts will be debuting a first-time head coach (Shane Steichen) and probably a rookie quarterback (Anthony Richardson) in Week 1. The Jaguars had some of the least roster turnover in the league this offseason, which bodes well for a strong start.
Week 2: Jaguars vs Chiefs
Score prediction: 31-29 (L)
The Jaguars weren’t really as close to beating the Chiefs last year as some people like to remember; Kansas City entered the fourth quarter of each of their 2022 matchups with a double-digit lead and control of the game.
I think the Jaguars will get closer this year, especially with Calvin Ridley in tow and Florida heat providing an edge. But I don't have enough trust in Jacksonville’s defense to pick them over the defending champs quite yet.
Week 3: Jaguars vs Texans
Score prediction: 34-13 (W)
If there’s an automatic dub on the schedule, it’s here. Jacksonville’s experience should secure a Week 3 win if the difference in roster talent isn't enough. Like the Colts, Houston will have a new coaching staff and starting quarterback this season.
The Jaguars did embarrass themselves with a 13-6 loss at home against the Texans last year, but that memory should be strong motivation for Jacksonville in 2023.
Week 4: Jaguars vs Falcons (London)
Score prediction: 35-20 (W)
As John Shipley pointed out on our JaguarReport Podcast, it’s good for Jacksonville that they play Atlanta early in the season. Second-year quarterback Desmond Ridder is on pace to make his eighth career start against the Jags. The Falcons also have a lot of new faces on defense, including a first-time coordinator in Ryan Nielsen.
Week 5: Jaguars at Bills (London)
Score prediction: 31-21 (W)
Jacksonville has a massive rest advantage over Buffalo for this game. Both teams play the prior Sunday, but the Bills have a seven-hour flight across the Atlantic, and the Jaguars do not.
Buffalo’s defensive roster has taken a slight step back in recent years while its offense rests completely on the shoulders of Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs. I'm not convinced Dalton Kincaid, who the Bills traded up with Jacksonville to draft 25th overall, can be an immediate problem-solver as a rookie tight end.
Week 6: Jaguars vs Colts
Score prediction: 24-14 (W)
Jacksonville should again be able to take care of business versus a young Colts team, even with a big rest disadvantage as the Jaguars come home from London.
As much as I believe in Richardson personally, Steichen is gonna have to be a wizard to coax more than a few wins out of the former Gator in his rookie year.
I’d be shocked if Indianapolis is happily starting Gardner Minshew in Week 6, but hey, he's pulled it off before.
Week 7: Jaguars at Saints (TNF)
Score prediction: 27-21 (L)
Jacksonville’s lengthy London trip could catch up with them when they travel to the Big Easy in a short week for Thursday Night Football. I have a feeling 12-year NFL veteran Cameron Jordan will teach 21-year-old rookie Anton Harrison a lesson or three in the trenches. And Derek Carr is a good enough quarterback to take advantage of anything Jacksonville’s defense gives him.
Week 8: Jaguars at Steelers
Score prediction: 20-17 (L)
The Jaguars haven’t faced a daunting defense at this point in the schedule, but that’ll change when they face a modern-day Steel Curtain. Assuming T.J. Watt returns to full strength, Pittsburgh will have boast one of the league's best pass-rushing defensive lines with the 2021 Defensive Player of the Year next to Cameron Heyward, Keeanu Benton, Larry Ogunjobi, and Alex Highsmith.
The Steelers also have an wide receiver room. Diontae Johnson, George Pickens, and Jags legend Allen Robinson can advantage of Jacksonville’s underwhelming cornerback room behind Tyson Campbell.
The Jaguars have had the upper hand in recent battles, but Pittsburgh’s strengths match up well against Jacksonville’s weaknesses particularly well this year.
Week 9: BYE
Related reading: Jaguars 2023 scheduled a reward of 2022 heroics
Week 10: Jaguars vs 49ers
Score prediction: 23-20 (W)
I originally called this the toughest test on Jacksonville’s schedule, as the 49ers are well-suited to embarrass the Jaguars’ defense and apply constant pressure to Lawrence. But the rest and quarterback advantage could be too much for San Francisco to overcome at TIAA Bank Field.
Week 11: Jaguars vs Titans
Score prediction: 31-23 (W)
Tennessee is entering a soft rebuild. It may be against coach Mike Vrabel’s wishes, but after stalling out in mediocrity the past few years, the Titans are stepping back now to move two paces steps in the future.
I’ll be nervous about this division matchup as long as Vrabel is a Titan. But right now, stonks are pointing up in Jacksonville and down in Tennessee. The Jaguars should continue building on its winning streak against its arch rival.
Week 12: Jaguars at Texans
Score prediction: 33-14 (W)
Houston should be looking ahead to Caleb Williams by this point in the season. If you haven’t seen his highlights yet -- he’s legit.
Week 13: Jaguars vs Bengals (MNF)
Score prediction: 31-28 (W)
This is a highly-anticipated sequel of the 2021 Thursday Night Football game between these two teams. Lawrence did his best Tony Soprano impersonation after rushing for a touchdown, and Urban Meyer followed by acting like a Bada Bing! patron.
Lawrence versus Joe Burrow will be the biggest storyline for this game, and deservedly so. But we’ll also get an incredible X’s and O’s matchup between Doug Pederson and Bengals DC Lou Anarumo, who’s perhaps the best defensive game-planner in the league not named Bill Belichick. This is also a Brother Bowl between Jaguars OC Press Taylor and Bengals HC Zac Taylor.
Cincinnati is a legit Super Bowl contender, but a flawed one at that. The team is a bit too reliant on Burrow and Anarumo’s weekly magic. I think Jacksonville will get itself into better positions on third down on both sides of the ball and come out with the win.
Week 14: Jaguars at Browns
Score prediction: 26-24 (W)
I’d peg this game as the most underrated upset threat for the 2023 Jaguars. Cleveland’s defense is too small to compete for a title, but the Browns did make some savvy transactions this offseason to help out superstar DE Myles Garrett. Z’Darious Smith and Ogbonnia Okoronkwo will be real threats to opposing passers in Jim Schwartz’s wide-9 scheme.
Cleveland’s offensive production will depend on whether Deshaun Watson plays like last year’s version of himself (6.5 yards per pass attempt) or the 2020 version of himself (NFL-best 8.9 y/a). Assuming his 2023 season ends up somewhere in the middle, the Browns will be a scrappy team trying to sneak into the Wild Card round.
Jacksonville likely has the better roster, coach, and quarterback, and should thus come out victorious, but this one could be closer than fans expect.
If you haven't picked up on the trend, I think Jacksonville's youth at offensive tackle could cause one or two surprising losses.
Week 15: Jaguars vs Ravens (SNF)
Score prediction: 34-26 (L)
In a perfect world, Jacksonville would’ve hosted Baltimore earlier in the schedule.
Lamar Jackson is back, and he’ll have added weaponry in Odell Beckham Jr. and Zay Flowers, as well as a fresh play designer in Todd Monken. It’ll take some time for the offense to really click with all those shiny new parts, but once it does, the Ravens will be dangerous. And defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald is one of the league’s best coaches at ‘changing the picture post-snap,’ i.e,, confusing opposing quarterbacks.
Baltimore will be re-introduced as a title contender by this point in this season, and I don't think Jacksonville will be quite on the same level.
Week 16: Jaguars at Buccaneers
Score prediction: 28-13 (W)
Tampa Bay’s roster is simply too good for the Bucs to tank for Caleb Williams. But with Baker Mayfield starting behind the same offense line that pushed Tom Brady back into retirement, Williams may just fall into their lap without them even trying.
Week 17: Jaguars vs Panthers
Score prediction: 24-23 (L)
The Jaguars will benefit from facing Anthony Richardson and C.J. Stroud early in the season before either rookie passer gets acclimated to NFL game speed. Against first overall pick Bryce Young, though, Jacksonville won't get the same luxury.
The Panthers traded up in the draft to add the 2021 Heisman Trophy winner to an up-and-coming franchise. Carolina’s defense is ready to compete today, and former Colts coach Frank Reich has a new chance to prove himself as one of the league’s best offensive minds.
Reich infamously never led Indy to victory in Duval County. His 5-5 career record against Jacksonville included a 100% win percentage at home and 0% away. It may be bold to predict that streak to end this season, but Carolina’s turnaround is on a rapid pace. The Panthers could be the team that NFC heavyweights don't want to see in January.
Week 18: Jaguars at Titans
Score prediction: 27-16 (W)
After a close game against Carolina, the Jaguars keep their Nashville trip strictly to business and finish off the last of Ryan Tannehill’s Titan reign.
Final record prediction: 12-5
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Shipley and I will be recording a podcast soon about each of our game-by-game predictions. Read John’s full projections here.