After the win over the Seattle Seahawks, the Jacksonville Jaguars are sitting nicely in the AFC playoff picture with three games to go.
The Jacksonville Jaguars had a scenario to clinch a playoff berth in week 14, but it was a long shot, as a handful of games had to play out in the Jaguars’ favor. As expected, the pieces didn’t fall into place, so Jacksonville couldn’t clinch just yet.
But the Jaguars did the most important thing the team could do on Sunday, which was beat the Seahawks at home in a battle of playoff hopeful teams. With that, Jacksonville is on the brink of its first playoff appearance since 2007, while also regaining the lead in the AFC South over the Tennessee Titans.
So after taking care of business in week 14, let’s take a glance at the Jaguars playoff scenarios heading into week 15 action:
Clinching a playoff berth
This past Sunday, Jacksonville needed outside help for a potential opportunity to secure a ticket to the postseason. The team needed to win, and have four other games go their way.
This week, the clinching scenario is nowhere near as diluted. As a matter of fact, it is as simple as it can be. If the Jaguars take down the 4-9 Houston Texans at home on Sunday, Jacksonville is going to the postseason.
Yep, that’s it. No outside help needed. No having to see if Team A beats Team B. The Jaguars control their own destiny at home in week 15.
Win a game you are expected to win, and you are in.
Battle for a first-round bye
The journey to a first-round bye for Jacksonville is a lot more treacherous.
Most have considered the fight for the top two seeds in the AFC a two team race between the Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots. But the Jaguars, especially after the upset in the Monday Night Football game, have a say in the battle for a first-round bye.
In the last three weeks, the Steelers have pulled out three wins by the skin of their teeth on last second field goals. The Jaguars own the tiebreaker over Pittsburgh because of their 30-9 head-to-head win in week five. Jacksonville would have benefited greatly from the Steelers dropping even just one of those games.
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When Pittsburgh came from behind to defeat the Baltimore Ravens Sunday night, the Jaguars’ hopes for a first-round bye appeared to fade away. But Jacksonville was granted new life after the Miami Dolphins upset the New England Patriots Monday night.
With the surprising loss, the Patriots dropped to 10-3, and have the biggest matchup of week 15 on the road against the Steelers. After weeks of wanting Pittsburgh to slip up, the Jaguars are now rooting for them to knock off New England at home.
With a win against the Texans, and the Patriots dropping two in a row, Jacksonville would jump up into the two seed in the AFC, and would only need to win the final two games of the season to clinch a first-round bye and divisional round game at home.
Inversely, if the Patriots bounce back and win, both New England and Pittsburgh would be 11-3, and the Jaguars would need either of the two teams to lose one of their two remaining games to have the opportunity for the bye by winning out.
The Jacksonville Jaguars need some help with moving up to one of the top two seeds in the AFC. But one thing is certain, a win on Sunday against the Texans and the Jaguars will be dancing in January.