JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It has been awhile since the Jaguars had playoff scenarios to digest in December. In fact, it’s been five years since that run in 2017 that ended just minutes away from the Super Bowl. But this year, the postseason matrix is unusual. So let’s go through the “what ifs” of the Jaguars’ playoff chances.
The Jaguars have two games to play in the regular season: Sunday in Houston against the Texans and the Week 18 matchup against the Tennessee Titans.
Here’s how the AFC South standings look as of the moment.
The Jaguars and Titans have identical 7-8 records, but the Jaguars hold the tiebreaker for now — based on the head-to-head win over Tennessee on December 11.
It’s the Jaguars and Titans battling for the AFC South championship and a spot in the playoffs.
This week, Tennessee faces the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday night. What happens if the Jaguars lose and the Titans win?
That would leave Jacksonville at 7-9 and the Titans at 8-8. In that case, if the Jaguars beat the Titans on the final weekend of the season, both teams would be 8-9 and the Jaguars would hold the tiebreaker by way of the season sweep of the Titans. If the Titans won, they would have a record of 9-8 and Tennessee would win the division and go to the playoffs.
What if the Jaguars and Titans both lose this weekend?
That would leave both teams at 7-9 and the winner of the regular season finale would win the division with a record of 8-9, while the loser would finish the season at 7-10.
What if the Jaguars and Titans both win this week?
In that case, both would enter the final week at 8-8 and the winner of the showdown between the two would finish at 9-8 with the loser at 8-9 and the winner would own the division.
Basically, this weekend’s results are meaningless in the playoff scenarios.
Unless you are looking at the unlikely scenario where the Jaguars earn a wild-card spot. Here’s how it could happen:
- The Jaguars beat the Texans on Sunday then lose to the Titans in Week 18
- The Dolphins lose to the Patriots in Week 17 and the Jets in Week 18
- The Jets lose at the Seahawks in Week 17
- The Bills beat the Patriots in Week 18
- The Steelers lose at the Ravens in Week 17 and at home against the Browns in Week 18
Then the Jaguars would be the seventh seed in the AFC playoffs as a wild card team with a record of 8-9 and would face the number two seed, likely the Chiefs or Bills.
If the Jaguars and Titans enter the final week with the same record and the final game ends in a tie, the Jaguars would win because of a better head-to-head record against the Titans.
The other question to be answered about that final game between the Jaguars and Titans is when it will be played.
In Week 18, two games will be played on Saturday — they will kick off at 4:30 PM and 8:15 PM — with the remainder to be played on Sunday afternoon (1:00 PM ET and 4:25 PM ET). One game will be played on Sunday night. There are no Monday night games in the final week. The NFL will announce who will play when after all of the Week 17 games are played. So, we may not know when the Jaguars and Titans will kickoff until after the Monday game between the Bills and Bengals is completed the evening of Jan. 2.