JACKSONVILLE – The Jaguars remain squarely in the playoff chase.
A 19-3 victory over the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., Thursday helped those chances, keeping the Jaguars (7-8) very much alive for the 2022 NFL postseason.
The Jaguars' clearest path to the playoffs?
That remains winning the AFC South, and the division-leading Tennessee Titans remain the primary team for Jaguars fans to watch in Week 16. But the Jaguars can still qualify for the postseason as a wild-card team, and multiple games Saturday through Monday have at least a mathematical chance of affecting their postseason hopes.
Barring ties, here's the easiest way to look at the AFC South chase:
The Titans and Jaguars play in Jacksonville in the regular-season finale in Week 18. That game will decide the AFC South title unless the Titans (7-7) enter that game with a two-game lead over Jacksonville.
The Jaguars play the Houston Texans (1-12-1) on the road in Week 17 while the Titans have games remaining at home against Houston Saturday and at home against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 18. If the Jaguars beat the Texans, the finale will be for the division. If the Titans lose either of their remaining games, the finale will be for the division.
The only way the finale won't be for the division is if the Titans win both of their remaining games and and the Jaguars lose to the Texans.
"We battled through adversity this year, through a lot of ups and downs, and still right here at the end of the year we're in a position to accomplish some of our goals," Head Coach Doug Pederson said.
With that in mind, here are games to watch for Jaguars fans this weekend:
AFC SOUTH (Most likely scenario)
Houston Texans (1-12-1) at Titans (7-7), Sunday, 1 p.m.
The matchup: The Texans' lone victory this season came over the Jaguars in Week 5, but they have sustained narrow losses to two of the NFL's top teams – Dallas and the Kansas City Chiefs – in the last two weeks. The Titans, the two-time defending AFC South champions, have lost four consecutive games. Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill is expected to miss the rest of the season with an ankle injury, with Malik Willis expected to make his third career start Sunday.
If the Titans win: They will remain a game ahead of the Jaguars entering Week 17. The Titans could then clinch the South with a Week 17 home victory over the Dallas Cowboys AND a Week 17 Jaguars road loss to the Texans.
If the Texans win: The Titans will slip into a first-place tie with the Jaguars at 7-8. That would ensure the Week 18 matchup in Jacksonville would decide the AFC South no matter the teams' Week 17 results.
FOR A WILD CARD SPOT (unlikely scenarios)
With three weekends of games remaining, the AFC wild-card scenarios aren't easily explained. Seven teams make the postseason – four division winners and three wild cards.
A few things to remember as we look at scenarios:
- The Jaguars (7-8) can't make the postseason as a wild card with a 9-8 record because they would win the AFC South by finishing with that record.
- The Jaguars as the AFC's current No. 9 seed can't pass any of the teams with the three best records in the AFC – Buffalo (11-3), Kansas City (11-3, AFC West Champions) or Cincinnati (10-4). They also can't pass the fifth-seeded Baltimore Ravens (9-5) for a wild card because the worst Baltimore can finish is 9-8 and the Jaguars would win the South if they finish with that record.
Here is a look at the games involving teams ahead of the Jaguars that they could mathematically pass for wild card positions:
Cincinnati Bengals (10-4) at New England Patriots (7-7), Saturday, 1 p.m.
How it affects the Jaguars: The Patriots currently hold the AFC's eighth seed, with games also remaining against the Miami Dolphins (8-6) in Week 17 and at the Buffalo Bills (10-3) in Week 18. The Bengals may be the hottest team in the AFC with six consecutive victories.
Green Bay Packers (6-8) at Miami Dolphins (8-6), Sunday, 1 p.m.
How it affects the Jaguars: The Dolphins currently hold the No. 7 seed with three consecutive losses while Green Bay has won two consecutive games. Because the Jaguars can only earn a wild card at 8-9, the Jaguars would need the Dolphins to lose all three games to have a chance to get in the postseason ahead of Miami. The Dolphins also have games remaining at New England (7-7) and at home against the Jets (7-8).
Los Angeles Chargers (8-6) at Indianapolis Colts (4-9-1), Monday, 8:15 p.m.
How it affects the Jaguars: The Chargers currently hold the No. 6 seed with two consecutive victories, while the Colts lost a 33-0 lead in a 39-36 overtime road loss to the Minnesota Vikings last week. The Chargers also have games remaining against the Los Angeles Rams (4-10) and at the Denver Broncos (4-10). The Jaguars also would need the Chargers to lose all three games to get in the playoffs over the Chargers at 8-9. If the Jaguars and Chargers finish in a two-way tie for a playoff spot, the Jaguars would get the spot based on a Week 3 victory over the Chargers.