2017 Jacksonville Jaguars game-by-game predictions

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Jaguars have a tough start and tough finish to their 2017 schedule, but if they can survive that, the middle part is pretty manageable. It at least gives the team the chance to threaten .500, which would be a big deal because the team has lost double-digit games for the past six seasons, which is tied with Detroit (2001-06) and Cleveland (2008-13) for the third-longest streak in NFL history.

With that in mind, here's a game-by-game prediction of how the 2017 season might go:

Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 10, at Houston Texans, 1 p.m. ET

Since sweeping the Texans in 2013, the Jaguars have lost six in a row in the series. No. 6 was the final straw for owner Shad Khan, who fired coach Gus Bradley after the Jaguars blew a nine-point, fourth-quarter lead in Houston on Dec. 18. Cornerback A.J. Bouye, who signed a five-year contract worth $67.5 million with the Jaguars in March, returns to the place where he played his first four seasons. The most intriguing part of this game will be seeing whether it's Bouye or Jalen Ramsey who lines up against Texans receiver DeAndre Hopkins. Ramsey completely shut him down the last time the teams met and they've got a pretty good rivalry going.

Record: 0-1

Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 17, vs. Tennessee Titans, 1 p.m. ET

The teams have split the season series every year since the Titans won both games in 2008. The 2016 meeting on Christmas Eve came six days after the Jaguars fired Bradley, and it was by far the best game the Jaguars had played last season. Ramsey had a pick-six and quarterback Blake Bortles and receiver Marqise Lee took turns throwing touchdown passes to each other. Titans QB Marcus Mariota also suffered a fractured fibula that day. It was the first victory for interim coach Doug Marrone, who would go on to secure the job permanently in January.

Record: 1-1

Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 24, vs. Baltimore Ravens (Wembley Stadium, London), 9:30 am ET

The teams have met four times since the start of the 2011 season and those games have been decided by a total of 17 points. The Jaguars are 2-2 in those games, thanks to a blown call against left tackle Luke Joeckel that enabled Jason Myers to kick a winning, 53-yard field goal in 2015. So they really should be 1-3, including 0-3 over the past three seasons. This will be the second year in a row the Jaguars play an early season game in London, and while that familiarity helps, it won't be enough to override their inability to keep Joe Flacco from making just enough plays to eke out a victory. Record: 1-2

Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 1, at New York Jets, 1 p.m. ET

The Jaguars have won only seven road games over the past six seasons, but this should be one they win in 2017. The Jets averaged just 17.2 points per game last season and could be starting a rookie quarterback, which might be better than the alternatives of Christian Hackenberg, Bryce Petty or Josh McCown. This might be an easy day for Ramsey and Bouye. Record: 2-2

Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 8, at Pittsburgh Steelers, 1 p.m. ET

Improving the pass rush was a big focus in the offseason, which is why the team signed defensive end Calais Campbell to a four-year, $60 million contract in March. Ben Roethlisberger is one of the toughest quarterbacks to sack, and the Steelers' offense is so explosive with Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown, so this game will give a good indication of just how much the rush has improved. That Brown-Ramsey/Bouye matchup should be pretty good to watch, too. Record: 2-3

Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 15, vs. Los Angeles Rams, 4:05 p.m. ET

This will be only the second time in franchise history the Jaguars have played host to the Rams in Jacksonville (2009 was the other). Rams QB Jared Goff should benefit from Sean McVay's offensive system, but McVay has said it's a system that can be pretty sophisticated to learn. It'll be the second offense in as many years for Goff, so it'll be interesting to see how quickly he absorbs and adapts. He should be much better later in the season. Record: 3-3

Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 22, at Indianapolis Colts, 1 p.m. ET

The Jaguars haven't won in Indy since Sept. 23, 2012 (their first game against Andrew Luck) and have lost four in a row at Lucas Oil Stadium. Luck has put up very good numbers against the Jaguars (2,257 yards, 14 TDs, five interceptions). Last season he nearly led the Colts to a comeback victory in London, and he did lead the Colts back from a 17-0 deficit in the 2016 season finale. Maybe the addition of Bouye, Campbell and safety Barry Church will be enough to at least slow him down. Record: 3-4

Week 8: Bye

Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 5, vs. Cincinnati Bengals, 1 p.m. ET

The Jaguars have lost four in a row to the Bengals and haven't won a game in the series since 2005. Cincinnati stumbled in 2016 (6-9-1) and has absorbed some big losses in free agency over the past two seasons, including guard Kevin Zeitler and left tackle Andrew Whitworth this past March. Still, the Bengals have Andy Dalton and arguably the best receiver in the game in A.J. Green. Record: 3-5

Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 12, vs. Los Angeles Chargers, 1 p.m. ET

The return of Bradley, now Chargers defensive coordinator, to Jacksonville will obviously be a major storyline, but let's not forget just how savage quarterback Philip Rivers has been against the Jaguars. He has completed 71.2 percent of his passes for 2,119 yards and 19 touchdowns with only four interceptions in seven meetings (6-1 record). Rivers has thrown four TD passes and no interceptions in the past two meetings, which the Chargers have won by a combined 71-28. This will be by far the best Jaguars secondary he has faced, however. Record: 3-6

Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 19, at Cleveland Browns, 1 p.m. ET

The Browns are the only team on the schedule that the Jaguars have a winning streak against coming into the season. The Jaguars have won two in a row (2013 and 2014) and they should be able to extend it to three. The Browns' quarterback situation is a mess -- VP of football operations Sashi Brown said this week that Brock Osweiler will compete for the starting job -- and that's a good thing for the Jaguars. Record: 4-6

Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 26, at Arizona Cardinals, 4:05 p.m. ET

This will be a homecoming for Campbell, who spent the past nine seasons with the Cardinals. The Jaguars signed him as much for his locker-room leadership as his production on the field (56.5 sacks and eight forced fumbles), but they need him to extend his streak of eight consecutive seasons with at least five sacks because he's the only proven pass-rusher on the roster. Really looking forward to a couple of matchups: Ramsey vs. Larry Fitzgerald and Allen Robinson vs. Patrick Peterson. Record: 4-7

Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 3, vs. Indianapolis Colts, 1 p.m. ET

An interesting quirk in this series is that the Jaguars have beaten Luck twice but never at EverBank Field. They beat him at Lucas Oil Stadium in 2012, and last season's victory came at Wembley Stadium. In three games at EverBank, Luck has led the Colts to three routs by a combined score of 108-30. That streak stops now. Record: 5-7

Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 10, vs. Seattle Seahawks, 1 p.m. ET

The last time these teams met, the Seahawks rolled up 28 first downs, 479 yards, and forced three turnovers in a 45-17 rout. Russell Wilson threw for 202 yards and four touchdowns and was pulled from the game with 3:54 remaining in the third quarter. Seattle could have scored 70 points in that game had Pete Carroll not called things off against his former defensive coordinator Bradley. That might be why defensive end Michael Bennett said last month the Jaguars lose games by 50 points. This game should be closer than the most recent meeting, but the result will be the same. Record: 5-8

Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 17, vs. Houston Texans, 1 p.m. ET

Depending on how the rest of the teams in the AFC South perform, this could be a key late-season game in the division race. It'll be interesting to see who is playing quarterback at this point in the season: Tom Savage, Brandon Weeden or ... Tony Romo? Will he get talked out of retirement and stolen from the CBS broadcast booth? Record: 6-8

Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 24, at San Francisco 49ers, 4:05 p.m. ET

It's logical to think the Jaguars will win this game because the 49ers aren't very good, but the Jaguars have really struggled on the West Coast. They've lost eight consecutive road games in the Pacific time zone dating to a 13-6 victory over Oakland in the final game of the 2004 season. That's the longest active losing streak among teams that are based in the Eastern time zone. They've lost those games by an average of 20.9 points, and the teams they've lost to haven't exactly been juggernauts. Only three went on to finish with winning records, and only one (eventual Super Bowl champ Seattle in 2013) won more than nine games. Record: 6-9

Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 31, at Tennessee Titans, 1 p.m. ET

The Jaguars have lost five of their past six games at Nissan Stadium, including last season's 36-22 embarrassment on Thursday night (and the Jaguars added two garbage TDs in the fourth quarter to make it seem better than it was). That's probably a big part of the reason the NFL didn't give them a prime-time game in 2017. Record: 6-10