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After a solid 2-1 start to the 2022 NFL season that featured blowout victories over the Indianapolis Colts and Los Angeles Chargers, the Jacksonville Jaguars lost five straight to drop to 2-6, seemingly ending their chances of earning a trip to the NFL Playoffs for the first time in five years.

But since a Week 8 loss to the Denver Broncos, the Jags have won four of six and three of their last four. And those most recent three victories have all come against teams that would be in the postseason if it started today, those being the Baltimore Ravens, the Tennessee Titans, and the Dallas Cowboys.

As for the two losses in this six-game stretch, those came against one of the best teams in the NFL, the Kansas City Chiefs, and one of the hottest teams in the league, the Detroit Lions.

While there are several reasons for the Jaguars’ recent surge, the dynamic play of Trevor Lawrence has led the way. In his last six games, the second-year superstar has completed 70.4% of his passes (157-for-223) for 1,680 yards (280 per game) with 14 touchdowns and just one interception.

Now 6-8, Lawrence and the Jags are just one game behind the slumping Titans in the AFC South and can actually take over first place in the division this week.

Jaguars playoffs: How the Jaguars can take over first place in the AFC South in Week 16

Trevor Lawrence during a Jaguars-Cowboys matchup in December 2022
Trevor Lawrence of the Jacksonville Jaguars looks to throw the ball during the third quarter of the game against the Dallas Cowboys at TIAA Bank Field on December 18, 2022 | Courtney Culbreath/Getty Images

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So here’s what needs to go down for Jacksonville to take over the top spot in the AFC South this week.

First, the Jaguars need to defeat the New York Jets on Thursday night, which is certainly doable. While Lawrence & Co. are trending up, Gang Green has gone in the other direction. After a 6-3 start, the Jets have lost four of five, including their last three. And that lone win came against the Chicago Bears, who’ve won three games all year.

So this is definitely a winnable game for the Jaguars.

The other scenario that has to play out is the Titans losing to the Houston Texans on Saturday. Three weeks ago, that wouldn’t have seemed very likely. But as Houston gave both the Cowboys and Chiefs all they could handle the last two weeks, a Texans win wouldn’t be that big of a surprise, especially seeing as Tennessee has dropped four straight, including the aforementioned loss to the Jaguars.

And that Week 14 win by Jacksonville over Tennessee is how the Jags can move into first. If both teams have the same 7-8 record at week’s end, the Jags hold the head-to-head tiebreaker. The two squads meet again in Week 18, and that matchup could very well decide the division.