With 4 games remaining, Jaguars playoff chances look good

New Year's Eve showdown with Titans could decide AFC South

JACKSONVILLE, FL - DECEMBER 03: Jalen Ramsey #20 of the Jacksonville Jaguars celebrates with fans after the Jaguars defeated the Indianapolis Colts 30-10 at EverBank Field on December 3, 2017 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Logan Bowles/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – With four games remaining on the Jaguars 2017 regular season schedule, the team is positioned to make the playoffs for the first time since 2007. Here's how the postseason chase sits after Jacksonville's 30-10 win over the Colts:

The Jaguars are tied with the Titans atop the AFC South with identical 8-4 records. The first tie-breaker is head-to-head competition. The Titans beat the Jaguars in Jacksonville in Week 2, so Tennessee holds the tie-breaker for now. However, the teams meet in the final week of the season, on New Year's Eve in Nashville, which gives the Jaguars the opportunity to even the score.

If the Jaguars and Titans finish the season with the same record, and the Jaguars beat the Titans on Dec. 31, then the next tie-breaker is division record. Both teams have just one loss in the division so far; the Jaguars are 3-1 against AFC South competition, the Titans are 4-1 and have only one more AFC South game, against the Jaguars, remaining on their schedule. If the Jaguars were to beat the Texans in two weeks, then a win over the Titans would give the Jaguars the advantage in division record as Jacksonville would be 5-1 and Tennessee would finish 4-2. In that scenario, the Jaguars would win the division.

However, if the Jaguars were to lose to Houston, but win games against Seattle and San Francisco, then they would have to beat the Titans in the season finale to have identical 11-5 records, assuming the Titans win their next three games. In that scenario, both teams would be 4-2 in the AFC South and the third tie-breaker would come into play: common games. 

The Jaguars and Titans have eight common opponents outside the AFC South. After Week 12, the Jaguars hold a half-game advantage in the common games tie-breaker as a result of their win over the Steelers and the Titans' loss to Pittsburgh. The Titans have beaten the Seahawks, whom the Jaguars face Sunday, and the Jaguars lost to the Cardinals and Rams, who both remain on Tennessee's schedule. The two teams will travel to San Francisco to face the 49ers in consecutive weeks. 

Under the scenario that the Jaguars lose to Houston and the Titans win their next three games, the Jaguars would need to beat the Seahawks and 49ers to keep pace. This would leave the Jaguars and Titans with identical records of 7-1 against common, non-division opponents. That would, amazingly, send it to the fourth tie-breaker, conference games. Currently, the Jaguars are 8-2 in the conference, while the Titans are 7-4. Under our scenario, the Jaguars would finish the season 9-3 against the AFC while the Titans, who only have the Jaguars remaining on their schedule among AFC teams, would finish 7-5, giving the Jaguars the division.

One remarkable stat to compare the two teams is net points. The Titans have been outscored by their opponents by 16 points this season. The Jaguars have outscored the opposition by 121 points, more than 10 points per game. The margin is second-best in the AFC behind the New England Patriots. Net points in common games is the ninth tie breaker, while net points in all games is the 10th tie-breaker. 

The NFL uses 12 tie-breakers for teams within a division:

  • Head-to-head (best won-lost-tied percentage in games between the clubs).
  • Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the division.
  • Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games.
  • Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference.
  • Strength of victory.
  • Strength of schedule.
  • Best combined ranking among conference teams in points scored and points allowed.
  • Best combined ranking among all teams in points scored and points allowed.
  • Best net points in common games.
  • Best net points in all games.
  • Best net touchdowns in all games.
  • Coin toss

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