How the Jacksonville Jaguars can clinch a playoff spot with a loss

The Jacksonville Jaguars can clinch the AFC South with a win against the Titans, but a loss doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t be in the playoffs.

Jacksonville Jaguars
Jacksonville Jaguars / Perry Knotts/GettyImages

The Jacksonville Jaguars brought an end to their four-game skid on Sunday with a shutout victory over the league-worst Carolina Panthers, putting them in a position to clinch the AFC South with a victory over the Tennessee Titans this coming Sunday afternoon.

Sitting tied atop the AFC South with the Jaguars are the Indianapolis Colts and the Houston Texans, and the Colts and Texans play each other on Saturday night. So shy of all three teams ending up with ties this weekend, the Jaguars must win to clinch the AFC South.

Despite having lost eight of their last nine games in Nashville, the Jaguars have around a 70% chance to win Sunday’s game, according to ESPN FPI. They possess around an 83% chance to get into the playoffs overall. 

How can the Jaguars get to their second straight postseason even without claiming another AFC South crown?

If we assume that the Titans will beat the Jaguars on Sunday, the Jaguars would still have around a 45% chance to clinch the No. 7 seed in the AFC, but they would need help.

First of all, they would need somebody to win the Colts vs. Texans game, as a tie would ensure that both teams finish 9-7-1, ahead of a 9-8 Jaguars team that could finish no higher than the No. 8 seed. 

But a non-tie would result in the Jaguars finishing in second place in the AFC South, regardless of who loses. The Jags swept the Colts and would have a better divisional record than the Texans after splitting the season series with them.

They would also need the Baltimore Ravens to defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers, since that would send the Steelers down to 9-8. The Jaguars beat the Steelers head-to-head earlier this season. 

The Steelers cannot drop below the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC North, even if the Bengals move to 9-8 with a win over the Cleveland Browns, so there is no way for the Bengals’ head-to-head win over the Jaguars to come into play.

There is one other thing the Jaguars need to happen, and that is for the Las Vegas Raiders to beat (or tie) the Denver Broncos. 

Yes, the Broncos have already been eliminated from postseason contention, but if they were to move to 9-8 and create a three-way tie with the Jaguars and Steelers, the Steelers, not the Jaguars, would end up getting the No. 7 seed. The Jags’ head-to-head win over the Steelers would no longer hold any serious playoff weight.

All three teams would own a 6-6 record within the AFC, so the tie would be broken by strength of victory, and that is a tiebreaker owned by Pittsburgh.

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To sum it all up, a Jaguars loss to the Titans can still get them into the playoffs, as long as the Colts and Texans don’t tie, the Steelers lose to the Ravens, and the Broncos don’t beat the Raiders.

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