Jaguars named a team nobody wants to face in the playoffs

Jacksonville Jaguars fans cheer during round one of the 2022 NFL Draft on April 28, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images)
Jacksonville Jaguars fans cheer during round one of the 2022 NFL Draft on April 28, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images) /

Like most things in life, it isn’t how you start in the NFL but how you finish and the Jacksonville Jaguars find themselves in a position to win the AFC South and qualify for the postseason after starting 2-6 this season.

You could make the case that once teams make the playoffs, their win-loss record in the regular season no longer matters. And if that’s the case, clubs can’t afford to overlook the Jaguars. In fact, Jim Trotter of NFL Media named the Cincinnati Bengals the most dangerous team in the AFC but thinks the Jaguars are the one team nobody wants to see in the playoffs.

Trotter points out that head coach Doug Pederson has gotten the most out of his roster and notes that they’ve played with a sense of urgency in the second half of the 2022 season.

"They have won three in a row and four of five since their bye with the victories coming against the Ravens, Titans, Cowboys and Jets. Baltimore was leading its division at the time; Tennesse was attempting to extend its own division lead; Dallas was seeking to chase down Philadelphia for the NF East lead; and New York was battling for a playoff spot. In other words, each of the games involved a sense of urgency, and the moments were not too big for Jacksonville."

The Jaguars have gone 5-2 since Week 9 and some of their wins have come against teams that arguably looked better, at least on paper. Their offense ranks 11th in the league in points scored and their defense, although it’s far from great, is fourth at creating turnovers with 24.

The Jaguars are gaining momentum at the right time of the season

Nobody would have blamed head coach Doug Pederson if the Jaguars had just won four or five games this season. He himself said this wasn’t an overnight fix and during a five-game losing streak earlier this year Jacksonville seemed destined to have their fifth straight losing season.

However, the Jags kept grinding and eventually managed to turn the corner. Trevor Lawrence bounced back after a midseason slump and the team is getting plenty of production from their 2022 free-agent class.

Even though the Jaguars could afford to rest their starters against the Houston Texans in Week 17, head coach Pederson told the media Wednesday that anyone who’s in a position to play will play. Instead of taking it easy against their division foes, they want the momentum they’ve built to carry into a potential trip to the playoffs.

“You want to continue to play well, you want to continue to improve each week”, Pederson said. “That’s where the leadership of your football team needs to step up and keep the guys focused and grounded… just staying focused and locked in on their job this time of the year, and [if] they keep doing that, we keep showing improvement and we’ll be ok”.

It’s been a while since the Jaguars played meaningful football in December and the league is taking notice. Opposing AFC teams probably agree with Jim Trotter and would surely want to avoid facing Jacksonville in the playoffs.

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