Jaguars remain in 1st place in the AFC South, hold No. 4 seed despite loss to Browns

• The Jaguars lost in Week 14, but so did the Texans and the Colts

• For the time being, the remain at the top of the AFC South

Dec 10, 2023; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett (95) lends a hand
Dec 10, 2023; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett (95) lends a hand / Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars fell to the Cleveland Browns 31-27 in Week 14 but if it's any consolation, Trevor Lawrence didn't aggravate his ankle sprain. Moreover, the Jags are still in control of the AFC South, along with the fourth playoff seed in the conference, due to losses by the Houston Texans and the Indianapolis Colts.

A loss shouldn't be a reason for celebration but at least the Jags should feel somewhat comfortable knowing they didn't lose ground in the division or the playoff race. Ideally, they would've come out of FirstEnergy Stadium with a win, but they should be pleased they have room for error in the four remaining games in the season despite the loss to Cleveland.

Had the Colts and Houston won in Week 14, the Jags would still be in control of the AFC South by virtue of having a better record in the division than their foes. Nevertheless, they wouldn't probably be in the position to lose another game (or a couple) the rest of the way. On top of that, the Kansas City Chiefs also lost, so there's a slight chance the Jags could still finish with the third or even the second seed in the conference.

While only the top seed clinches a BYE — it's hard to see the Baltimore Ravens not seizing barring a sudden collapse — seeds Nos. 2 and 3 go against seeds 7 and 6, respectively. Meanwhile, seed No. 4 would face off against the fifth seed. This is to say that the higher the seed the Jaguars get, the lower the seed they'll play in the postseason.

The Jaguars a bit of help from other teams in Week 14, they must now wake up

Having said that, the Jaguars aren't in a position to feel good about their current state. Just two weeks ago, they were 8-3 and in the thick of the No. 1 seed. Now, they find themselves at risk of potentially missing the playoffs if they keep losing and the Texans and/or Indianapolis get hot. Simply, they cannot keep playing the way they did against the Cleveland Browns in Week 14 if they want to make a deep postseason push, and that goes for both the offense and the defense.

The offense sometimes showed the ability to move the ball but they got cold at several points throughout the game. Not having Christian Kirk, who recently underwent core surgery, in the fold hurt the offense but the Jags must be able to overcome injuries. Their wide receiver corps is simply too talented to struggle when either Kirk or Zay Jones misses time, which has been the case.

Trevor Lawrence played through his ankle sprain and deserves praise for doing so. However, he consistently overthrew passes, and his lack of communication with Calvin Ridley was in full display when he threw a pass that could have gotten the Jags within scoring distance but instead ended in an interception. The defense also failed to step up. They forced several punts during the loss to the Browns but they also allowed Joe Flacco to look like the quarterback he was in his prime.

In the Jaguars' defense, there were a few positive individual performances. For example, Parker Washington lost a fumble but he also reached the end zone for the second time in his NFL. Tight end Evan Engram set a new career best for receptions in a season with 85. Last but not least, Lawrence didn't injure his ankle further.

Sure, the negatives outweigh the negatives in Week 14. But at least the Jacksonville Jaguars remain in the same place they were before the game, which beats the alternatives. However, they cannot keep relying on outside help the rest of the season.

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