Don't discount the Jacksonville Jaguars, who are back in the postseason

Trevor Lawrence and the Jags go from worst-to-first, and have a real chance to make some noise in the playoffs

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Trevor Lawrence celebrates with Christian Kirk after Kirk’s receiving touchdown during the second quarter against the Tennessee Titans on January 07, 2023.
Trevor Lawrence celebrates with Christian Kirk after Kirk’s receiving touchdown during the second quarter against the Tennessee Titans on January 07, 2023.
Image: Getty Images

Jacksonville clinched their first postseason appearance and AFC South title since 2017 in dramatic fashion on Saturday night with a 20-16 win over Tennessee. The Jaguars also accomplished a feat only four other teams have done since the AFL-NFL merger, which is going from worst to first in the division. They are also the first team since the 2013 Chiefs to make the postseason after having the No. 1 pick in the draft.

Ending the season with a 9-8 record, the Jags find themselves locked into the No. 4 seed in the AFC playoffs, and don’t be surprised if Jacksonville makes a run in the playoffs from that spot.

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If the Jags’ history tells us anything, it’s that they might not make the playoffs often, but when they do get in, Jacksonville usually makes some noise. This will mark the eighth playoff run in Jaguars’ history, and of the seven previous times, they’ve made it past the wildcard round five times. In ‘99, the Jags entered the postseason as the No. 1 seed earning them a first-round bye, and made it to the AFC championship game, where they fell to the Titans, 33-14.

In Jacksonville’s first five years of existence (‘ 95-99), they qualified for the playoffs four times and made it to two AFC title games. They ended all four of those seasons with at least two games over .500 and were eliminated during wildcard weekend just one time. That early success for the Jaguars was remarkable, seeing how many expansion teams in multiple sports struggle to win early on.

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However, since ‘00, Jacksonville has made the postseason only three times prior to this year, but even then, they’ve won at least one game in two of those appearances. That last playoff run in ‘17 ended in the franchise’s third AFC championship game. That’s saying something for an organization that no one ever expects much from. Since the ‘96 season, Jacksonville has had fewer postseason appearances than Dallas but triple the number of championship game appearances.

So, these Jaguars, led by second-year signal caller Trevor Lawrence, should not be taken lightly by whoever they land in the wildcard round. Right now, it looks like it’ll either be the Chargers or Ravens. Jacksonville could sneak up and surprise either of these opponents. Lamar Jackson’s health is still up in the air for the Ravens, and even if he does play, he likely won’t be 100 percent. The Chargers have been good this year but have a knack for finding new ways to lose games they should win.

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Don’t be surprised if Jacksonville goes on a run in this year’s AFC playoffs. Head coach Doug Pederson could regain some of that magic from ‘17 in Philadelphia when he led the Eagles to their first Super Bowl. I’m not saying the Jags will go all the way, but a win or two certainly isn’t out of the question. Pederson was also on that Kansas City staff as offensive coordinator that flipped from worst to first in ‘13. So, keep an eye on the Jags. They might surprise some folks over the next couple of weeks.