Trevor Lawrence's injury likely a turning point for Jaguars this season (good or bad)

• Trevor Lawrence suffered an ankle sprain vs. the Bengals on MNF

• Lawrence is day-to-day but could miss time

• His absence could prove to be a turning point for Jacksonville in 2023

Cincinnati Bengals v Jacksonville Jaguars
Cincinnati Bengals v Jacksonville Jaguars / Courtney Culbreath/GettyImages

Not only did the Jacksonville Jaguars fall to the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday Night Football, but they lost Trevor Lawrence to an ankle sprain as well. Even though surgery doesn't seem like an option at this time, there's a chance he will miss time. Before Week 13, a trip to the playoffs seemed like a wrap but the loss with Cindy, along with Lawrence's potential absence, puts a dent in the Jags' postseason hopes.

Pederson told the media Tuesday that he doesn't want to put a timeline on Lawrence's recovery, noting that he's day-to-day. The team will need to embrace the possibility of not having him for a few weeks. Before Monday, Jacksonville had a realistic chance of moving to first place in the AFC but the loss to the Bengals puts them at No. 4, behind the Miami Dolphins, the Baltimore Ravens, and the Kansas City Chiefs.

Compounding the issue is that both the Houston Texans and the Indianapolis Colts are both 7-5 after beating the Denver Broncos, and the Tennessee Titans, respectively. Meanwhile, the Jags are 8-4 and could lose ground in the division in the upcoming weeks.

If Lawrence misses time, C.J. Beathard will be the next man up at quarterback. He did a solid job when he stepped in behind center against Cincy, going 9-of-10 in Lawrence's absence. He couldn't get the win but he was able to keep the offense afloat.

That said, there's a steep dropoff from Lawrence to Beathard, and either the Texans or Indy could take advantage of the Jaguars' precarious situation to get ahead in the division. If that's the case, Jacksonville could be left out of the playoffs altogether.

For the sake of argument, let's say the Chiefs, Baltimore, the Dolphins, and the Colts win their respective divisions, the Jags could still qualify for the postseason as a wildcard. The issue is that the Texans, the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Cleveland Browns, the Buffalo Bills, and even the Denver Broncos are also in the hunt. That's seven teams competing for three slots, and the Jags are at real risk of not getting in.

The Jacksonville Jaguars must put it all together with or without Trevor Lawrence

Not having Trevor Lawrence around for the last five weeks of the season would be a huge hit for the Jaguars. That said, they still have enough talent on both sides of the ball to win games during his potential absence and welcome him back in time for a potential playoff run.

Although wide receiver Christian Kirk suffered a core injury against the Bengals, and will most likely require surgery, the Jags have fellow receivers Calvin Ridley, Zay Jones, and tight end Evan Engram in the fold. Moreover, Parker Washington proved to be an adequate replacement for Kirk, hauling in six receptions for 61 yards and a touchdown.

On defense, even if cornerback Tyson Campbell has to miss time (again), they have shown they can contain some of the best offenses in the NFL. The issue (a big one) is that they tend to let their guard down: Without Joe Burrow, Cincy wasn't supposed to give the Jags too much trouble but Jake Burrow and the Bengals' running game had no trouble moving the ball and scoring at will.

If the Jaguars want to avoid a late-season collapse, they must cut down on the issues that plagued them against the Bengals and previous losses. The offensive line must block, and the defense needs to do a better job of tackling. Also, the coaching staff must do a better job of putting their players in a position to succeed and have them ready to play.

At 8-4, the Jaguars remain in control of their destiny. However, the Texans and the Colts are within striking distance. If they don't get back on track, they run the risk of falling behind their division foes. That's the last thing they surely want after a strong start to the season.

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