Jaguars playoff picture: How Jacksonville can clinch AFC South, wild-card spot in Week 18

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Trevor Lawrence
(Getty Images)

When the Jaguars beat the Texans in Week 12 of the 2023 NFL season, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that they would win the AFC South. They sported an 8-3 record and looked poised to challenge for the No. 1 seed in the conference.

Instead, a late-season downturn has the Jaguars scrambling to stay in playoff position in the final week of the regular season.

A series of injuries to Trevor Lawrence (ankle, head, shoulder) — including one that brought to an end his epic college and professional ironman streak — is one of the main culprits behind Jacksonville's decline. A shaky defense and injuries to other key players, such as Christian Kirk (core), haven't helped either.

Despite the Jaguars' recent struggles, they still are positioned to win the AFC South. They enter Week 18 in a three-way tie for first, but they own the key tiebreakers needed to emerge from the logjam provided they win their regular-season finale.

LIVE: Updated NFL standings, clinching scenarios for Week 18

Here's what to know about the Jaguars' playoff picture and what they need to do to qualify for the postseason.

Jaguars playoff picture for Week 18

The Jaguars have the easiest path to an AFC South title among the three teams still vying for first: Beat the Titans.

Jacksonville is currently in first place in the division because of its 3-1 combined record against Houston and Indianapolis. If they win, the Jaguars are guaranteed to hang onto the division title even with the Texans and Colts playing one another. They swept the Colts and will have a division record of 5-1 with a win, which would break any tie with the Texans, who handed the Jaguars their lone division loss back in Week 3.

The Jaguars can also clinch the division with a tie if the Colts-Texans game ends in a tie. Both games seeing that outcome appears unlikely, however.

The Steelers' win on Saturday against the Ravens makes things more difficult on the Jaguars, however. The Jaguars now will be unable to reach the postseason with anything beyond the AFC South title. If they tie or lose to the Titans, they will be knocked out of the playoffs.

POWER RANKINGS: Cowboys, Browns, Steelers climb as Dolphins, Eagles, Seahawks drop for Week 18

Jaguars clinching scenarios

Below is a clearer look at Jacksonville's clinching scenarios in Week 18 of the 2023 NFL season:

Jacksonville Jaguars (9-7)

Jacksonville clinches the AFC South division title with:

  • Jaguars win OR
  • Jaguars tie AND Colts/Texans tie

The Jaguars would be eliminated with a loss on Sunday to the Titans.

Jacob Camenker Photo

Jacob Camenker is a senior content producer at The Sporting News.