A "Down the Stretch" Preview for the 2023 Season
With a 6-2 record, the Jaguars are rightfully smack-dab in the middle of the postseason conversation this year, but do they have any shot whatsoever to earn the all-important top playoff seed in the AFC?
Everyone knows that teams who enter the postseason as the number one seed in each conference have a serious leg-up on everyone else in their quest to make it to the Super Bowl. The home field advantage throughout the playoffs and the first-round bye both make it significantly easier for these teams to advance and play for the Lombardi Trophy in February.
Can the Jaguars achieve this in 2023?
The short answer is "yes", they certainly can, if they keep playing well, and manage to peak offensively late in the season, but they’re not even close to being the favorites to win the AFC at the moment. Here are the current odds from FanDuel Sportsbook:
· Chiefs +240
· Ravens +440
· Dolphins +600
· Bengals +750
· Bills +850
· Jaguars +950
· Browns +1400
· Chargers +1900
Evidently, there is not much faith in our boys yet, out there in the business community. But, a win this week versus the 49ers would allow the Jaguars to at least keep pace with the top two teams in the conference, and maybe earn them some street cred as well. And some Jaguars’ fans might be wondering how the Dolphins, Bengals, and Bills are all being viewed as more likely to win the AFC than the Jags are. If you’re asking that question, maybe go ahead and throw some beer money at it. Take those long odds and get paid off, if the good guys make it all the way to the Bowl.
If the Jaguars lose in Week 10 to San Francisco, the world would not end, and the Jags’ season would not be over. With a loss, they would be 6-3 and their postseason hopes would be very much still alive, as long as they take care of business and win their division. BUT… their chances of getting the number one seed in the AFC would be greatly diminished if they lose to the 49ers. It’s not a conference game, but the Jaguars would no longer control their own destiny in the standings if they don’t keep pace with the top teams in the AFC, with whom they are currently even in the loss column.
It’s probably going to take a record of no worse than 13-4 to even be in the picture for the number one seed at the end of the regular season. The remaining schedule for the Jaguars is daunting to say the least, and the two top teams in the conference, the Chiefs and the Ravens, are currently 7-2, and they are both extremely tough to beat. The Jaguars do have one thing going for them, however. The three most difficult games they have left (49ers, Bengals, and Ravens) are all going to be played at home.
The Kansas City Chiefs have enjoyed the advantage of being the number one seed for the past five seasons in a row, and they have appeared in the Super Bowl in three of those years, winning two rings. They have transformed lately from an offensive juggernaut into a defensive-led team with a top-tier quarterback who almost always finds a way to win. They also own a tie-breaker over the Jaguars by virtue of a Week 2 victory in Jacksonville. If the Jaguars fall behind the Chiefs by a full game or more in the standings, it would greatly increase the chances that any potential postseason matchup between the two teams would be played in Kansas City.
The Baltimore Ravens have been on absolute fire lately, and they will be another AFC team possibly standing in the Jaguars’ way to grab the top spot entering the postseason. The Ravens’ defense has been downright scary through the first nine weeks this year, but they’ve definitely been getting fat on mediocre, injured, or bad quarterbacks on the teams they have played against so far. In the second half of the season, the Ravens will face much stiffer competition in the QB play from their opponents. Also, the Jaguars will host the Ravens in a primetime Week 15 matchup on Sunday Night Football that should have playoff implications aplenty.
So, you’re saying there’s a chance??!!