The Jaguars aren’t mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, and all of these hot takes basically saying that Jacksonville’s playoff chances are dead are simply not true yet. It is, however, going to be an uphill climb — with about three or four feet of snow covering said hill (not sure if you Florida folks have ever had to actually deal with copious amounts of snow, but I sure have). But let’s be real, this team was never really expected to be a serious playoff contender, at least in my opinion. However, for a while this season, at the height of Minshew Mania, playoffs did seem like an attainable goal. Now? Minshew Mania is over and the playoffs are doubtful at best.
But there’s a glaring issue as to why the Jaguars have positioned themselves on the outside looking in. Half of Jacksonville’s losses have been to divisional foes. If the goal is to make the playoffs (which, obviously), then losing these games to division rivals hurts more. Winning your division not only automatically gets you into the dance, but it also guarantees you at least one home playoff game.
The AFC South is a competitive division, though. All four teams are still fighting for a playoff spot, with the Jaguars looking up at the other three teams. And even if Jacksonville isn’t able to win the AFC South crown, these divisional games are important in the Wild Card race as well. A single division can realistically have three teams make it into the playoffs.
The Jaguars’ lone win against an AFC South opponent came back in Week 3 against the Tennessee Titans — a 13-point victory.
Here is a quick recap of the prior duels against other AFC South teams thus far:
- Week 2 — Houston Texans 13, Jacksonville Jaguars 12 (Jaguars failed on a two-point conversion attempt at the end of the game)
- Week 3 — Jacksonville Jaguars 20, Tennessee Titans 7
- Week 9 — Houston Texans 26, Jacksonville Jaguars 3 (London)
- Week 11 — Indianapolis Colts 33, Jacksonville Jaguars 13
Two blowout losses in a row. But it’s not just the final score that stands out. It’s that the team’s biggest weaknesses have been exposed and capitalized on by the opponents that know Jacksonville best. Here are just a few things that come to mind:
- The Houston Texans recorded four sacks against Jacksonville (Week 2)
- Despite a Jaguars win, the Titans held Jacksonville to just 12 first downs and an 18 percent conversion rate on third down (Week 3)
- The Houston Texans ran for 216 yards in London against the Jaguars (Week 9)
- The Houston Texans force four turnovers against the Jags in London (Week 9)
- The Indianapolis Colts rushed for 264 yards — with two separate 100-yard rushers (Week 11)
- The Jaguars commit eight penalties against the Indianapolis, while the Colts commited just three penalties (Week 11)
I could go on, but I don’t feel the need to do so.
This week, Jacksonville has a chance to sweep the Titans for the first time since the 2005 season. This would also require the Jaguars to get a win in Nashville, something the franchise hasn’t done since 2013. A win at Nissan Stadium would bump the Jaguars up to a 2-3 divisional record, with a chance to finish .500 in that regard at home against the Colts in Week 17. While 3-3 would be respectable, the Jaguars can also finish 1-5 in the division. That’s certainly not off the table.
So, as illustrated throughout this article, these divisional losses have been gut-punching for the Jags, and this is a huge reason why the team is staring into the face of yet another losing season.
As stated, the Jags’ playoff hopes aren’t completely gone, but they’re on their last legs. At this point, it’s time to put the playoff talk on the back-burner for a bit and focus on taking it one week at a time.