I know, it’s early — really early, but I’m all about making nonsense predictions that amount to meaningless chatter. After all, I’m here to have fun and play with interesting, sometimes heretical, ideas.
The NFL will begin to seriously talk about playoff expansion at the Spring League Meeting in Atlanta tomorrow. It’s unlikely that the owners would vote on league expansion at the meeting, and even if they do decide to move from a 12 team format to a 14 team format, it’s unlikely we’d see the transition made until 2014. Still, for the sake of this article, let’s pretend the owners quickly roll out a 14 team playoff format in 2014. Would the Jags be in contention using this scenario?
In the AFC last season, four teams tied for the 7th position with 8-8 records. The Steelers would have been the last team in under a 14 team format. 10-6 is often cited as the golden mark to hit to make the playoffs (although that didn’t work out for the Cardinals in the NFC last season).
For our purposes, we’ll say the Jaguars would have to hit the 9-7 mark to make the playoffs. Now, stick with me through this next part of speculation.
If the Jaguars are able to sweep the Titans and Texans in their division (something that isn’t an unrealistic possibility), the Jags would give themselves four wins without considering non-divisional play.
Out of the division, the Jaguars really look like they should be able to top the Redskins and the Browns. Both of those teams were bad last year, and they haven’t made big strides in the same way the Jags have this offseason. At least that’s my own opinion of the matter. That takes Jacksonville to 6 wins.
The Jaguars play very winnable games against the Steelers, Dolphins, Cowboys and Giants next season as well. Let’s say the Jags win just one of those games. That puts them at 7 wins.
The Jaguars also face the Eagles, Chargers, Colts (twice), Bengals and Ravens. Really, they shouldn’t win any of those games, but let’s say they pull out one of those games. Now they’re at 8 wins. That puts the Jags firmly in the playoff race under a 14 team format. If they could pull out just one more game that I didn’t account for, they could actually make the playoffs. Even under the 12 team format, 9-7 teams make the playoffs on a somewhat consistent basis.
Let me be perfectly honest. I don’t think the Jaguars will make the playoffs in 2014, but with a little luck, the Jaguars could actually make a playoff run. Here’s to hoping they get that little bit of luck that’s been missing since 2007.