It’s starting to look a little bit like 1996 again. The Jacksonville Jaguars, only one year removed from expansion and a 4-12 record, were 4-7 but playing mostly competitive football. The Pittsburgh Steelers had just mauled the Jags 28-3 and the fans were hoping to just surpass last year’s record. Surprisingly, the players were feeling good about things. The Steelers loss was a definite misstep but they could feel Coach Coughlin’s influence and conditioning taking seed. The Jags knew all they had to do was play their game and the wins would come. The Jag fans knew what they needed was a miracle.
A miracle is what they got. They won their next four games by a combined 19 points. They put themselves in a position where they controlled their own playoff destiny. Beat the 3-12 Atlanta Falcons team, at home no less, and clinch a playoff spot.
The Jaguars played like a second year team and let the Falcons stick around. It then came down to less than a minute left. The Jags held a precarious 19-17 lead. The Falcons had driven down the field and were now lining up for a thirty yard field goal with Morton Anderson kicking. He was the most accurate kicker in NFL history. Not only had the Jags blown their playoff bid, they had done so in front of the home crowd. The ball was snapped and…ANOTHER MIRACLE!!! The kick sailed wide left and the Jags somehow had reached the playoffs. If the success the Jags had in the playoffs was a fairy tale then just getting there was downright science fiction.
Why did I take a walk down memory lane? The Jags are a few miracles away from another improbable playoff possibility. Now let me make one thing very clear. The odds are much lower for our success on this one. You just don’t start the season winless after eight games and still have a realistic chance of postseason games. But it’s not inconceivable either.
Let’s start the scenarios.
Week 15 – What is needed:
Mandatory – Jags beat Bills, Patriots beat Dolphins, Lions beat Ravens, & Panthers beat Jets.
Helpful – Broncos beat Chargers, Bengals beat Steelers, Chiefs beat Raiders, & Cardinals beat Titans.
Teams eliminated if all goes to plan – Bills, Browns, Raiders, Steelers, & Titans.
The remaining teams fighting for 6th seed – Jags, Dolphins, Ravens, Jets & Chargers.
Week 16 – What is needed:
Mandatory – Jags beat Titans, Bills beat Dolphins, Patriots beat Ravens, & Browns beat Jets.
Helpful – Raiders beat Chargers
Teams eliminated if all goes to plan – Jets & Chargers
The remaining teams fighting for 6th seed – Jags, Dolphins, & Ravens.
Final week – What is needed:
Mandatory – Jags beat Colts, Jets beat Dolphins, & Bengals beat Ravens.
Teams eliminated if all goes to plan – Dolphins & Ravens.
The AFC 6th seed representative with a 7-9 record – The 2013 Jacksonville Jaguars.
There are a few upsets that would have to happen. The Dolphins losing to the Bills in week 16 will be tough but at least it will be played in Buffalo. I also fear the Browns ability to beat the Jets on week 16 in New York. It should happen if the Jets play like they have most of the second half of the season. Finally, if the Jets are bad enough to lose to the Browns on week 16, is it unrealistic to expect them to go into the final week and beat the Dolphins at home. A lot has to happen for this miracle.
So long story short, the Jags have to win out. Both the Dolphins and the Ravens have to lose their remaining games. The Jets have to lose week 15 and 16, but win the final week. The Chargers have to lose two of their last three. The Steelers, Bills and Raiders only have to lose one. It is making me crazy how much I am looking for this to happen. Just a few weeks ago, I was just praying for a top five draft position. Now….JUST WIN BABY!!!!!