How Would an Expanded Postseason Have Impacted the Jaguars in the Past?
News that would shift the entire landscape of the NFL hit the public yesterday, as ESPN's Adam Schefter revealed the league's postseason could soon include 14 teams as opposed to 12 due to the details of a new collective bargaining agreement.
The NFL has allowed only 12 teams to be eligible for the postseason since changing for 10 to 12 in 1990, so adding two more teams would be a massive shift in direction. Under this structure, seven teams from each conference would make the playoffs, with only the first seed from the NFC and AFC having a bye week, according to Schefter.
This would mean six games on wildcard weekend with 12 teams playing, opposed to the four games between eight teams format that has been in place for decades. This could coincide with the league moving toward a 17-game regular season under the newest CBA proposal, Schefter said.
Under this format, the Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8) and Los Angeles Rams (9-7) would have made the postseason in 2019, playing the Kansas City Chiefs and Green Bay Packers in the first round.
So with the playoffs odds potentially being increased for each team, we decided to look at how this format could have impacted the Jacksonville Jaguars in the past. Since the team's first season in 1995, the Jaguars have made it to the postseason seven times, including four times in the team's first five years.
Since 1999, the Jaguars have only made the playoffs three times (2005, 2007, 2017), so the postseason has largely eluded the team. Would expanded playoffs have changed this at any point during that span?
Well, not quite. Even with expanding the playoff pool by two teams, the Jaguars have only finished as the 7th best team in the AFC once in any non-playoff year.
In 2004, the Jaguars finished with a 9-7 record, trailing the 10-6 Denver Broncos and 10-6 New York Jets. They, of course, missed the playoffs that season, but this new playoff format would've granted them the No. 7 seed and had them slated to play the 14-2 New England Patriots in the Wild Card round.
Since then, the Jaguars haven't exactly come close to a seventh-place AFC finish in the many years they haven't made the playoffs.
2006: 10th-place. 8-8 record.
2008: 13th place. 5-11 record.
2009: 12th place. 7-9 record.
2010: 8th place. 8-8 record.
2011: 14th place. 5-11 record.
2012: 15th place. 2-14 record.
2013: 14th place. 4-12 record.
2014: 14th place. 3-13 record.
2015: 12th place. 5-11 record.
2016: 15th place. 3-13 record.
2018: 14th place. 5-11 record.
2019: 12th place. 6-10 record.
When you only win six games or more once since 2010, it is going to be hard to ever place highly in the AFC. Nonetheless, that has been the Jaguars' past, with the postseason eluding them as furiously as a .500 record has.
The expanded playoff could, of course, give the Jaguars more chances in the future to make the postseason, but even the 6-10 record they had in 2019 would have been hard to get by with.
If, or likely when, the playoffs do expand, the Jaguars can only hope it will help them play meaningful games in December and January, something that has been a rare occurrence throughout the vast majority of the team's history.