What Are The Jaguars Paths to Make the Playoffs in 2022?
It’s crunch time for all NFL teams contending for a playoff spot, as the final two weeks of the 2022 regular season are upon us. What’s at stake for the Jacksonville Jaguars at this point in the season? For the first time in five years, the Jags are in contention for a playoff berth.
So with this in mind what should the Jaguars fans be looking for in these final two weeks? Let’s take a look at all potential scenarios that could play out for Jacksonville.
WEEK 17 – Jacksonville Jaguars @ Houston Texans
Yes, it’s true, in the grand scheme of things this game may appear to be pointless with an AFC South title on the line in Week 18. However, don’t disregard this game as meaningless. It still may be a key to the Jaguars making it to the playoffs.
The Jags need to win this game for a chance at a wildcard spot in case their matchup against the Tennessee Titans goes south. A win in Week 17 will give Jacksonville an 8-8 record and allow them a chance at the 7 seed if they don’t win in week 18.
KEY TO VICTORY: Do not turn the ball over
The Jaguars have no reason to lose this game after the way they have performed as of late. Offensively, Trevor Lawrence has been playing at an elite level, with 14 passing touchdowns, two rushing touchdowns, and only two turnovers (1 interception and 1 fumble) since Week 9. Going against the 31st-ranked defense, the Jaguars should play like a completely different team opposed to their Week 5 loss to the Texans.
WEEK 18 – Tennessee Titans @ Jacksonville Jaguars
The game everyone has had circled since Christmas Day, the showdown for the AFC South division champion title. As previously stated, this game guarantees a playoff berth as well as a division title and a home playoff game. This game means more to the future of the Jaguars than this season, as it shows they are here to stay.
The Titans, for a while, were seen as the favorites to win the division after the Indianapolis Colts, the Jaguars, and the Texans appeared to be out of any playoff contention. Fast forward to the previous five weeks and Jacksonville has won four of the last five games while the Titans have begun to collapse. Injuries continue to pile up in Tennessee, but all they need is a win this week to forget about those losses.
KEY TO VICTORY: Contain/Eliminate Derrick Henry
Same story just a different season, but containing Derrick Henry remains the sole key to immobilizing this Titans offense. When the game was on Ryan Tannehill’s shoulders in their week 14 matchup the Titans were unable to come back.
With Tannehill “very likely out for the season” and their fate under center being in the hands of rookie Malik Willis, the Titans will lean on Henry. Back in Week 14, Henry started off with nearly 100 yards on the ground in just the first quarter, but as mistakes began piling up, he was no longer a factor and the Jaguars did not have to fear “King Henry”. In order to sweep the Titans this has to be the same formula in order to secure the division title.
If the Titans are to win Week 18, how do the Jaguars sneak in?
Obviously, I like the Jaguars’ chances to win in Week 18, but just in case the Titans pull off the upset here are the games that matter to the Jaguars if they win against the Texans in week 17.
Miami Dolphins @ New England Patriots: Need the Patriots to win
New York Jets @ Seattle Seahawks: Need the Seahawks to win
New England Patriots @ Buffalo Bills: Need the Bills to win
New York Jets @ Miami Dolphins: Need the Jets to win
If these four games go that way and the Jaguars win in Week 17 but lose in the finale, they will then have the tiebreaker and claim the seventh seed.
I believe at the end of Week 18 the Jags will claim the AFC South and host a playoff game. The only three options of teams that they could wind up playing in the wildcard round would be the Los Angeles Chargers, Baltimore Ravens, and the Cincinnati Bengals.
The most probable scenario will be a rematch against either the Chargers or Ravens in which the Jaguars won both matchups earlier in the season.