As a result of the NFL's decision not to play week-two games this weekend, the league is likely to play a 15-game schedule this season, and that would seem to clearly favor the Jaguars in their bid to return to the postseason.
Owner Wayne Weaver and head coach Tom Coughlin met with reporters at noon today to announce the league's no-play decision, and the two Jaguars bosses said they are firmly opposed to the second of two scheduling options. That plan would move week-two's 15 games to the wild-card weekend of the playoffs, and reduce the playoffs field from six to four teams per conference.
"That (idea) has been floated, but I'm certainly not in favor of that. That did not get much support," Weaver told reporters.
"I do not want to see the playoff format changed at all," Coughlin added.
The "15-game" option would merely cancel this weekend's scheduled games. San Diego, which is scheduled for a bye this Sunday, would be the only team in the league to play a 16-game schedule. In that plan, the likelihood is the Chargers would be positioned in the AFC West standings according to winning percentage.
In Jacksonville's case, the lost game (at Chicago) would be least meaningful; a non-division, non-conference road game. In contrast, Tennessee and Pittsburgh will have lost home games against AFC Central bottom-feeders Cincinnati and Cleveland. That would seem to put the Titans and Steelers at an immediate disadvantage under the "15-game" plan. Tennessee was to host Cincinnati this Sunday, while Pittsburgh was to open Heinz Field against its rival, Cleveland.
"That would be a competitive advantage to those who have eight (home games)," Weaver said of the "15-game" option, which would leave the Jaguars with a full complement of AFC, division and home games (eight) intact. Baltimore will retain all of its scheduled AFC and division games, but the Ravens will have lost a home game (Minnesota).
The lack of an open weekend between this season's conference title games and the Super Bowl has put the NFL in this awkward scheduling position. "You would have to push the Super Bowl back, and that would be impossible at this time," Weaver said.
Reducing the playoff field to four teams per conference would probably be the best option to preserve the competitive integrity of this season. The 1985 Patriots are the only fifth or sixth-seeded playoff team to have made it to the Super Bowl. However, limiting each conference to one wild-card team might result in empty seats in December.
Anything other than the "15-game" or "reduced-playoffs" options would involve massive re-scheduling by the league. "It gets complicated because you may have to change opponents. I would highly doubt we would do something like that," Weaver said of a plan to play 16 games and not reduce the playoff field.
The NFL will observe tomorrow's "national day of mourning" for the victims of Tuesday's terrorist attacks by closing all offices. The Jaguars will not be open for business and Coughlin said his players will not practice.
"I want to pay my respects. I want to have some quiet time to be reflective," Coughlin said.
Vic Ketchman is the Senior Editor of Jaguars Inside Report, the official team newspaper of the Jacksonville Jaguars. One-year subscriptions may be purchased by calling 1-888-846-5247.