The sky isn't falling just yet for the Jacksonville Jaguars following their soul-crushing loss to the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday Night Football. Had they won the bout, they would've moved to first place in the AFC. Instead, the Jags find themselves at No. 4. On top of that, they could miss the playoffs altogether, with the Houston Texans and the Indianapolis Colts making up ground in Week 13.
Following this week of action, the Baltimore Ravens and the Miami Dolphins both have a 9-3 record but the latter hold the No. 1 seed due to tiebreakers. The Jaguars are in a two-way tie with the Kansas City Chiefs at 8-4 but are in fourth place in the AFC because they lost in Week 2.
Leaving standing aside, Trevor Lawrence sprained his ankle and could potentially miss time. If that's the case, the Jags could keep tumbling in the AFC standing and even miss the playoffs altogether. With wins in Week 13, the Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts remain in contention for the division title. At 7-5, both the Texans and Indianapolis are within striking distance of the Jags and could get ahead of them if Lawrence has to miss significant time.
You could make the case that the defense could keep the team afloat but the group doesn't truly inspire confidence. They made Jake Browning look like Joe Burrow 2.0, allowing the journeyman quarterback to complete 32 of 37 passes for 354 yards and one touchdown. Furthermore, he averaged 9.6 per throw, showing he wasn't just going for short completions. Head coach Doug Pederson, for one, wasn't pleased with the defense's performance.
"We didn't stop the run, that's the strength of our defense," Pederson told the media after the loss. "We just didn't do that, we failed there. We got too many explosive plays, we gave up."
The run defense, wasn't much better, giving up 150 yards and 5.0 yards per carry. What makes this even more frustrating is that the Bengals were dead last in the league in rushing yards entering the game. This was supposed to be a walk in the cake for Jacksonville. Instead, they show they aren't ready for primetime.
It's true that Lawrence went down later in the game but the Jags had the chance to put down Cincinnati several times and failed.
The Jaguars need to regroup if they want to fend off the Colts and Texans
Trevor Lawrence wasn't the only Jaguar who went down in the loss to the Bengals. Wide receiver Christian Kirk (groin), Tre Herndon (concussion), and defensive tackle Folorunso Fatukasi also exited the game and didn't return.
Safety Andre Cisco (shoulder) briefly left but eventually returned. Regarding the injuries, Doug Pederson says they can't dwell too much on the loss and must prepare to face the Cleveland Browns in Week 14.
"It's a challenge, but it's part of the game. It's why you have 53 and you get practice squad, you gotta get the next guy ready to go. It's gonna take everybody this week. We don't have much time, we're back on the field in less than two days, so we gotta get the next guy up," Pederson said.
Pederson later said that there's a bit more than a month of football left and the Jags can't do anything about injuries but to get the next guy up to speed.
With Houston and Indianapolis lurking behind, the Jaguars must quickly bounce back. Before Week 13, they had been relatively healthy. It will be interesting to see how they respond and whether they can overcome the injuries they suffered against the Bengals.