Ranking all 17 of the Jaguars’ 2023 games from easiest to toughest
The Jacksonville Jaguars will face a first-place schedule in 2023 after winning the AFC South a year ago. But all things considered, it’s a pretty cushy schedule for the Jaguars.
Yes, they’ll face the AFC juggernauts — the Kansas City Chiefs, Buffalo Bills, and Cincinnati Bengals — but two of those three games will happen at TIAA Bank Field and the third will happen in London. It helps too that the other three teams in the AFC South don’t appear ready to contend any time soon.
Here all 17 matchups on the Jaguars’ 2023 schedule ranked from the easiest to the most difficult for Jacksonville to win:
17. Indianapolis Colts (home) - Week 6
Five weeks after opening the season against the Colts, the Jaguars will host them in Jacksonville. Presumably, it’ll be Anthony Richardson at the reins for the Colts and the Jaguars will have some game tape — as well as some in-person experience — on the rookie to digest and use to prepare.
It’s been nine years since the Colts won a game at TIAA Bank Field and there’s not a ton of reason to believe they’ll break the streak this October.
16. Houston Texans (home) - Week 3
The Texans have a weird knack for being a thorn in the Jaguars’ side. Even during their 3-13-1 season last year, they managed to beat Jacksonville and then proceeded to lose nine straight.
It’d be awfully alarming if they beat the Jaguars in Week 3, though. Even after adding C.J. Stroud and Will Anderson, the Texans still have a severe talent deficiency and are in the beginning stages of a rebuild. This is a home game the Jaguars should certainly be able to handle.
15. Tennessee Titans (home) - Week 11
Yep, another divisional home game at the bottom of this list. While the Titans are never an easy out for the Jaguars, the team doesn’t look too intimidating in 2023.
Tennessee still has Derrick Henry, a notorious Jaguars killer, but he’ll be running behind an entirely reconstructed offensive line that still looks shaky, at best.
In a transitional year for the Titans, the mid-November meeting in Jacksonville is a chance for the Jaguars to stamp their claim as the new kings of the AFC South.
14. Carolina Panthers (home) - Week 17
The Panthers weren’t your average owner of the No. 1 overall pick. After finishing 7-10, despite a revolving door of disasters at quarterback, Carolina traded up to land Bryce Young.
If the former Heisman winner hits the ground running in a new-look offense that now features Adam Thielen, Miles Sanders, and D.J. Chark, the Panthers could be the annual ‘who saw that coming?’ team that earns a spot in the playoffs.
Carolina is probably another year from doing that. But if they get it together quickly, the Jaguars’ New Years Eve could be a challenge.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (road) - Week 16
The post-Tom Brady era is set to begin with Baker Mayfield at quarterback. It’ll make the Buccaneers the third team in as many years to start Mayfield in Week 1.
That doesn’t make the December matchup look too foreboding for the Jaguars. The only reason it’s not lower on the list is that it’s a road game for Jacksonville, even if it’s a pretty short trip.
12. Atlanta Falcons (home) [London] - Week 4
You never really know what you’re going to get out of the Jaguars’ annual trip to London. Two years ago, the Urban Meyer-led team got its first win of the season overseas. Last year, the Jaguars couldn’t beat the Broncos, who finished 5-12.
An early season matchup against the Desmond Ridder-led Falcons should be a very winnable game for the Jaguars. It just depends which version of the U.K. Jags shows up.
11. Houston Texans (road) - Week 12
As previously mentioned, the Texans have a habit of being a real pain for the Jaguars. By the time Week 12 rolls around, Houston will either be finding a rhythm with its young roster or it’ll be bottoming out and looking forward to 2024.
If it’s the former, the Jaguars could be walking right into a trap after back-to-back home games against the 49ers and Titans.
10. Indianapolis Colts (road) - Week 1
Given the hype and expectations for the Jaguars in 2023, it’d be pretty stunning if they laid an egg in their opener. Jacksonville is favored on the road against the Colts for good reason.
There are only two reasons why this game isn’t lower on the list:
It’s on the road in a building that has dealt the Jaguars nine losses in their last 10 trips.
Anthony Richardson will essentially be a complete mystery in the opener.
It’s tough to prepare for a team when it’s given you nothing to work from. In many ways, the Jaguars will be going in blind and that’s a little scary. Still, it’s a game Jacksonville should win.
9. Pittsburgh Steelers (road) - Week 8
Kenny Pickett wasn’t particularly scary as a rookie, but the Jaguars know better than anyone that sometimes quarterbacks make a big jump in year two. With Broderick Jones now protecting him and Allen Robinson added to the receiving corps, the Steelers should be more formidable than they were during a respectable 9-8 season a year ago.
Playing in Pittsburgh is never easy, regardless, although the Jaguars have had plenty of success there. In their last six visits to Acrisure Stadium (formerly known as Heinz Field), the Jaguars have five wins — including two playoff victories.
8. Tennessee Titans (road) - Week 18
The Titans don’t look like much of a threat after losing seven straight to end the 2022 season. But is a road game in Nashville ever easy for the Jaguars?
Even during Tennessee’s tailspin last year, the Jaguars needed four takeaways to overcome a slow start in the first matchup and a sack/forced fumble/fumble recovery touchdown to get the win in the rematch.
The best case scenario for Jacksonville is that it has the AFC South wrapped up by the time January rolls around. If the division is up for grabs, it’ll be white-knuckles time for Jaguars fans.
7. Cleveland Browns (road) - Week 14
The Browns’ ho-hum 2022 season doesn’t make this matchup jump off the page, but it may be an under-the-radar hurdle for the Jaguars.
Cleveland ended its last season with three wins in the last six weeks as Deshaun Watson started to find his footing after serving an 11-game suspension. Not only are the Browns set to have Watson full-time in 2023, they added Za’Darius Smith, Dalvin Tomlinson, and Siaki Ika to their defensive front.
All that could make for a rough road trip to Cleveland on what should be a chilly day in December.
6. San Francisco 49ers (home) - Week 10
San Francisco’s terrifying defense will present problems no matter what the 49ers offense looks like by the time November rolls around.
Fortunately for the Jaguars, they don’t have to travel to the West Coast, as that’s something that rarely works out for them. It’s the 49ers that will have to make the cross-country trip, although both teams being on bye in Week 9 could nullify much of that advantage.
5. Buffalo Bills (road) [London] - Week 5
Prior to the schedule announcement earlier in May, a road game against the Bills looked like it’d be the biggest challenge for the Jaguars in 2023. Instead, Jacksonville got a big break when the game was placed in London.
While the Bills will deal with traveling to the United Kingdom in the days leading up to the game, the Jaguars will already be there after playing the Falcons in the week prior. And instead of fans jumping through tables in Buffalo, the crowd at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium will likely favor the Jaguars.
That said, it’s still a perennial playoff team and Super Bowl favorite on the schedule.
4. New Orleans Saints (road) - Week 7 (TNF)
There are a few more formidable opponents on the Jaguars’ schedule than the Saints, but there’s probably not a tougher situation that the mid-October road trip to New Orleans.
After spending two weeks in London, the Jaguars won’t get a bye week to recover. Instead they’ll have a home game against the Colts followed by a short-week road trip to play the Saints.
With much of their top 10 defense from last year in tact and a re-tooled offense with Derek Carr added to the mix, the Saints will be a tough test.
3. Baltimore Ravens (home) - Week 15 (SNF)
Barring a late-season scheduling flex, Jacksonville’s first Sunday Night Football game in 15 years will happen late in the season and should have plenty of postseason implications.
While it’s relatively unfamiliar territory for the Jaguars, it’s not at all for the Ravens. Since John Harbaugh took over in Baltimore in 2008, the team is 35-17 in primetime games. The Ravens have also made the playoffs in four of the last five years.
2. Cincinnati Bengals (home) - Week 13 (MNF)
Trevor Lawrence vs. Joe Burrow.
It’s not hard to understand why the NFL chose this matchup as the one to end the Jaguars’ 12-year Monday Night Football drought. It’s a battle of two teams primed to be AFC heavyweights for a long time.
1. Kansas City Chiefs (home) - Week 2
Not only do the Jaguars have a rematch against the defending Super Bowl champions who beat them twice last season, the Chiefs will also come into Week 2 with a few extra days of rest after playing a Thursday night season opener in Week 1.
The good news for the Jaguars is that the game will be played in Jacksonville after traveling to Arrowhead Stadium two times last year. There’s also a strong chance that it’ll be an oppressively hot day in Northeast Florida, and that would seemingly favor the home team.