The football gods (the scheduling committee at the NFL offices in New York) must have two schools of thinking concerning the Jacksonville Jaguars.
One is they do not like the team, one of the smaller markets in the league, and one of the worst in media coverage across the country.
The other is a schedule that takes this team on the road in four of its first six games of the season will either prove they are a tough bunch of road warriors, or they will quickly become the NFL’s punching bag and will be early leader in the Jadeveon Clowney sweepstakes.
Either way, it is a tough road ahead for this team and this franchise.
Oh, and there is that little matter of traveling to London later this year to take on the San Francisco 49ers. Yep, this will be a long season for the Jaguars. No matter how much improved they may be (where four wins may look like a miraculous recovery), it will be long and hard and full of travel and bumps and bruises.
Here is a look at how this team will fare with this schedule.
Sept. 8 - Kansas City Chiefs: The idea of seeing the worst team in the NFL last season as the first opponent of this team should make Jaguars fans rejoice. Seeing Alex Smith behind center (someone the team could have traded for) should not. Hopefully the team starts the Gus Bradley era with a win.
Sept. 15 - at Oakland Raiders: The Jaguars have not done well traveling to the west coast and this will prove to be the same. The Raiders are not all that better than the Jaguars and will have a new quarterback behind center (Matt Flynn). We shall see if Darren McFadden will be held in check by the new defense.
Sept. 22 - at Seattle Seahawks: A homecoming for Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley. This team should have been playing in the Super Bowl last season. Can the Jaguars stop the elusive Russell Wilson on the road? I think not.
Sept. 29 - Indianapolis Colts: The Jaguars got their first win of the season on the road last year against the Colts. This year, the Colts could be playing in the Super Bowl. The turnout will not be the same. Still, the Jaguars always seem to play Indy close. We shall see how it goes.
Oct. 6 - at St. Louis Rams: The Rams may be the team we all look at as the one that plays in a division that basically locks them out. No Steven Jackson this year, but the Jaguars will have to contend with Sam Bradford and the teams’ speedy receivers.
Oct. 13 - at Denver Broncos: Peyton Manning vs. The Jaguars. Do we really need to explain this one? Manning has owned this team. Will he do it again in Mile High Stadium? Of course he will. Hopefully the Jaguars will have their travel legs firmer on the ground by now.
Sunday, Oct. 20 - San Diego Chargers: I think this might be a team that surprises everyone. How about this fact. The last four opponents the Philadelphia Eagles open the season against has won the Super Bowl. Guess who Philly opens against this year? You guessed it.
Oct. 27 - San Francisco 49ers: In London, in a new time zone and against the NFC Champions. This is a tough game, one team owner Shad Khan wanted. No he has it. The team could have one win when the Jags hit the tarmac. Could be a long week across the pond.
Nov. 10 - at Tennessee Titans: Following a week off, the Jaguars are back on the road facing Tennessee and Chris Johnson. What a joy. Can this team find a way to win in Tennessee? Can this team stop the Titans’ running game.
Nov. 17 - Arizona Cardinals: I love the fact Bruce Arians is now a true head coach in this league. He has had success with good offenses.
Let’s see how he does with Carson Palmer and the Cards coming to Florida. The Cardinals' defense will be ready. Will the offense?
Nov. 24 - at Houston Texans: The Texans may not be the same team the Jaguars faced last season, but they are still the best team in the AFC South and maybe all of the AFC. How will team game plan for the offense that was one of the better ones in the league and a defense that is always great under Wade Phillips?
Dec. 1 - at Cleveland Browns: I’ll say right now that this should be a win for this franchise. But the Browns did show life last season and the defense was better. Could this be a team on the upswing? Hard to say. But the Jaguars will make this a competitive contest.
Dec. 5 - Houston Texans (Night): The Jaguars only night game of the season. If they play the Texans close on the road, chances are they will play them close at home. Whether that means a win or not remains to be seen. The Texans basically have replaced the Steelers as the team the Jags play tough no matter when or where.
Dec. 15 - Buffalo Bills: Another win? Maybe. Kevin Kolb has some nice weapons to work with. The defense needs to still be upgraded and of course, the combination of C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson should strike fear in any team the Bills play.
Dec. 22 - Tennessee Titans: Another one of those games this team needs to show well in. The last home game of the season, and a telling sign of the direction this team is going in. By this time, will we know what draft selection this team has? Will we be pleasantly surprised by the product on the field?
Dec. 29 - at Indianapolis Colts: The Colts are in the playoffs. The Jaguars are not. The Colts are fighting for home-field advantage. The Jaguars are not. The Colts could be playing for a title. You get the picture. Could the Jaguars pull off an upset? Maybe. It would be a nice late Christmas present.
Remember when we were kids and we would look at the Jaguars’ schedule and automatically know how many wins this team would have? That is not the case anymore.
But I do think this will be a better franchise, all things aside. I see five or six wins. But I can also see two or three. This still could be the worst franchise in the NFL this season. And the season, like I said, will be very long.