Five most important Jaguars games of the 2024 season

Now that Jacksonville has received its 2024 season schedule, here is Jaguars Wire’s list of the top five most important games that will be crucial for the team to win as it eyes a bounce-back year and a return to the postseason.

  1. Week 18: Jaguars vs. Colts

    Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Travon Walker (44) makes a hit on Indianapolis Colts quarterback Gardner Minshew (10) as he attempts a late fourth quarter pass. The Jacksonville Jaguars hosted the Indianapolis Colts at EverBank Stadium in Jacksonville, FL Sunday, October 15, 2023. The Jaguars ended the first half with a 21 to 6 lead and won with a final score of 37 to 20. [Bob Self/Florida Times-Union]

The Colts will have their starter quarterback Anthony Richardson back in the game after suffering a season-ending shoulder injury last October in Week five against the Titans, shortening his rookie year. The Colts remained persistent throughout the 2023 season and finished strong, with Gardner Minshew filling in the big shoes. With Richardson back healthy and a year under his belt, a revenge tour is most likely underway.   

Richardson also has two prominent wide receiver targets who will prove to be electric on the field. Their immense speed and dependable routes will allow the quarterback to find a secure connection in the passing game. These two players include 2024 NFL Draft pick Adonai Mitchell, who was picked up in round two as the 52 pick, and Michael Pittman Jr. 

The stakes are high, but with this game on home turf in Jacksonville, there is a high possibility that the Jaguars will defeat the Colts. During this time, with it being the last week of the regular season, the Jaguars may have their playoff spot locked in winning the AFC South, or they may be fighting until the final minutes to inch their way in. Jacksonville has eased their win into the playoffs the past few years, but this past season, with the race between the Colts, Texans, and Jaguars as the teams have become more competitive, there is no telling if this season will prompt a different outcome. 

  1. Week 3: Jaguars vs. Bills

    Oct 8, 2023; London, United Kingdom; Jacksonville Jaguars running back Travis Etienne Jr. (1) escapes a tackle from Buffalo Bills cornerback Dane Jackson (30) during the first half of an NFL International Series game at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter van den Berg-USA TODAY Sports

Last year’s matchup against the Bills was overseas in London, where the Jaguars beat them 25-20 in a game in which both teams were out of their usual elements. This year, the game will be in Buffalo, where, for most teams, weather could influence the outcome of the game. Similar to the Jaguars, the Bills have also had a run of making it to the playoffs but have opted out early. 

However, this year on the offensive front, while in the offseason, the Bills lost Stefon Diggs, 2024 NFL Draft pick Keon Coleman has already made a name for himself in the receiver room and in the Bills Mafia fan base. The Bills have also added the newest addition to their team, Joe Brady, who is in his first season as the Bills offensive coordinator. 

Despite working to curate a better offense, the Bills’ defense remains prominent, with key weapons such as cornerback Rasul Douglas. A win against the Bills would be a huge confidence booster for the Jaguars and could possibly set the tone for how the rest of the season will go. 

  1. Week 17: Jaguars vs. Titans 

    Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Calvin Ridley (0) receives a pass to bring in a touchdown past Tennessee Titans cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting (0) during the second quarter at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tenn., Sunday, Jan. 7, 2024. Credit: Andrew Nelles / The Tennessean / USA TODAY NETWORK

Weeding out divisional competition always leads to an intensely competitive game. The Titans could have had a better 2023 season, but in a year of rebuilding their team and starting rookie quarterback Will Levis, the team managed to pull off some great upsets. One was eliminating the Jaguars from last year’s playoff contention, leaving a promising remark on the team’s future. 

The Titans are still working to improve their starting lineup and find out whether Levis is their first-string quarterback, along with building a competitive roster with the guys they’ve got. In the midst of changes among the Titans team, with competitive players who are willing to put everything on the line, the team has a way to be successful and curate more upsets on their opponents. 

In Week 17, the Jaguars have several possibilities regarding the outcome of this game. They may have clinched their playoff spot, or this win would have clinched their spot along with the division. However, if they lose, they will head into the final week, fighting until the end to ease their way against the Colts. A win would leave the Jaguars more secure in what their playoff picture would look like. 

  1. Week 11: Jaguars vs. Lions 

Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff stands at the line of scrimmage and talks to teammates before a play against the Green Bay Packers during the first half at Ford Field in Detroit on Thursday, Nov. 23, 2023. Mandatory Credit: Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK

More than halfway into the season, defeating one of the best teams in the league would ignite fire into the Jaguars’ competitiveness. The Lions hold a 5-3 record over the Jaguars and have blown them out pretty much in every game, the most recent being the Jaguars’ 41-14 loss back in 2022. 

With the Lions’ stacked team, a win would be another confidence booster nearing the end of the season. It would also make a statement showing the team’s growth in defeating huge contenders. This is also the Jaguars’ final game before their bye, which would allow them to head into the week happy while also having a break to bounce back and get healthy.

  1. Week 9: Jaguars vs. Eagles

    Oct 2, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars safety Andre Cisco returns an interception for a touchdown past Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver A.J. Brown (11) during the first quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Heading into a game with the 2023 Super Bowl contenders at their home turf would be another defining statement for the Jaguars team. When the teams last met in 2022, the Eagles won 29-21; this year, the Jaguars have the chance to even the playing record to 4-4. Trevor Lawrence is now in the race to establish himself as one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL. 

The Eagles are another team that has remained unstoppable with its stellar defense. If the Jaguars can run the ball and not have their pass game interrupted, there is a good chance they could come out on top. 

Diving deeper into the history between these two teams, head coach Doug Pederson is looking to get his first win against his former team in a primetime game. A win would no doubt also put the Jaguars and Pederson in a lot of conversations early if they also have a promising overall record at the halfway point in the season. 

Story originally appeared on Jaguars Wire