I don’t think any Jacksonville Jaguars fans expected to be discussing playoff scenarios this late into the season, but here we are, and damn are we excited about it. With a win in the finale Saturday, the Jags would clinch the fourth seed in the playoffs. It will be no walk in the park, however, as the visiting Titans have seized the AFC South in back-to-back years and won’t give up the division crown without a fight.
Assuming the Jaguars are able to overcome Tennessee during the teal-out, TIAA Bank will be hosting a Wildcard matchup next week. Since the winner of the AFC South will have the lowest win total out of any divisional leaders, they’d face the best non-division winner in the conference. Now that that’s settled, let’s get into scenarios.
Here are the two teams the Jaguars could face in the Wild Card round
Los Angeles Chargers (10-6)
The Chargers currently sit second in the AFC West behind the Kansas City Chiefs. Last week, they had a dominant win against the lowly Los Angeles Rams, whom they share the city and stadium with.
Los Angeles has turned it on recently and is healthier than ever. Defensive end Joey Bosa just returned from a groin injury that had sidelined him for the majority of the season. Add him into the mix with outside linebacker Khalil Mack and you have the fearmongering pass-rush duo that will terrify opposing offenses.
Once safety Derwin James Jr. recovers from his concussion, look out for the Chargers’ defense. Not only would Trevor Lawrence have to be uber-aware of the Chargers’ pass rush, but also the playmaker in the secondary that is James.
The second potential quarterback duel between Lawrence and Herbert would likely surpass the first, which the former won en route to a 38-10 victory.
If the Chargers can win this week against the Denver Broncos, they’ll lock up the No. 5 seed. If this happens, expect a shootout on Jan 7.
Baltimore Ravens (10-6)
Currently the No. 6 seed, Baltimore could move up into the No. 5 spot if they beat the Bengals and the Chargers lose. I’m not sure that would be in their best interest, however, as the last time they visited Jacksonville they flew back home with a heartbreaking loss.
Kicker Justin Tucker missed what would’ve been a 67-yard game-winning field goal as time expired. That miss capped off a comeback in which Lawrence showed real guts, throwing for 321 yards, three touchdowns, and no picks.
Wide receiver Zay Jones proved to be a real problem for Baltimore, accumulating 145 yards on 14 targets. If Marcus Peters is inactive for their second matchup, expect similar numbers from him.
The availability of Lamar Jackson is currently unclear, but it’s widely assumed that he’d be healthy enough to suit up for the playoffs. Regardless of whom the Jags could end up facing, fans should feel great about their chance of hosting a Wildcard game.