The 2018 Jaguars will truly put the sports axiom “everybody loves a winner” to the test, especially when it comes to televising their games.
A year after their surprise AFC South winning season, and where they won two playoff games before narrowly missing the Superbowl by losing in the final four minutes at New England, it would seem the Jags are poised to get some national attention this season.
Bear in mind that Jacksonville was one of two teams (dreadful Cleveland the other) that did not have a single Thursday, Sunday or Monday night game on the 2017 slate.
Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times Union laid out a lot of info and comments from sports media reporters Sunday, and the Jaguars have things working for and against them, as well.
#Jaguars showed last year they were ready for prime time. But will the networks agree when the schedule comes out?
— Ryan O'Halloran (@ryanohalloran) April 15, 2018
One good bit of compelling data in that item is that the losing teams in the conference championship games (the Vikings are the others) almost always get several games in prime time the following season. His research showed that since 2010, the four participants in the conference finals all had at least four prime time games the following year.
In fact the 2017 schedule had conference final losers Green Bay and Pittsburgh on under the lights five teams each last season.
However, Green Bay, while a smaller TV market, has decades of winning tradition and one of the premier recognizable quarterbacks in the game in Aaron Rodgers. Ditto for Pittsburgh, which is a larger market and has Ben Roethlisberger.
Jacksonville has Blake Bortles at the controls, and even though he was solid through much of last year, no one is tuning in, in Tacoma, Peoria, Vermont and Albuquerque to watch Blake like the others at the top of the NFL QB rankings.
That being said, Jacksonville does have a favorable schedule in terms of non-AFC South games that can and likely will be, on a Thursday, Sunday or Monday night this season. Despite the NFL moving the Jags home game to London against the Superbowl champion Eagles already for next October, the other participant, the Patriots, are coming to TIAA Bank Field.
And, that matchup is perfect for a Thursday night game early in the year. And it might, because of Boston’s TV market and the Patriots love/hate popularity, be a Sunday or Monday night game, too.
As a reference, the NFL chose to put Buccaneers home game with the Patriots week four on a Thursday night at Raymond James Stadium last season.
The other obvious home game that could be Thursday, Sunday, or Monday night would be a 2018 rematch with the Steelers, who Jacksonville beat twice last season in Pittsburgh. That included the stunning AFC Divisional playoff win in January.
The Times-Union item references the Jaguars playing at Dallas and the league along with NBC and ESPN always have the Cowboys on a the maximum of Sunday-Monday games. Mostly, though, they leave the Cowboys games for their division rivals in monster markets (New York, Philadelphia and Washington D.C.).
It’s not likely that Jags-Dallas would be put in prime time, but likely instead for at least a 4:25 p.m. Eastern national CBS TV game.
Rest assured Jaguars fans, you will see at least one and maybe as many three “stand alone” games on Fox Thursday, NBC Sunday or ESPN Monday night, when the schedule is released later this week.
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