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How Trevor Lawrence’s injury impacts Jaguars, others in AFC playoff picture

Jacksonville’s franchise QB might be done for a while and the effects are widespread.

Cincinnati Bengals v Jacksonville Jaguars
Trevor Lawrence of the Jacksonville Jaguars celebrates a touchdown run by Travis Etienne Jr. #1 during the first quarter at EverBank Stadium on December 04, 2023 in Jacksonville, Florida.
Photo by Courtney Culbreath/Getty Images

Postgame update: It looks like Lawrence suffered an ankle sprain rather than a fracture, but there’s still the MRI to be had. That’s obviously a very good initial diagnosis for the Jaguars, as it likely changes the timeline from 4-6 weeks out to maybe a few weeks. Jacksonville, if Lawrence is considered week-to-week, remains the favorite to win the AFC South but probably doesn’t catch Miami or Baltimore for the No. 1 seed.

Postgame update: The Bengals defeated the Jaguars 34-31 in overtime, sending Jacksonville down to the No. 4 spot in the AFC playoff picture. The Jags are still a game up on both the Colts and Texans for the division and have the tiebreaker over Indianapolis.

The Jacksonville Jaguars held their breath, hoping for the best when franchise quarterback Trevor Lawrence went down awkwardly on a third-down pass play late in the fourth quarter of Monday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals. Lawrence attempted to get up after seemingly rolling his ankle, but immediately went back down and slammed his fist into the grass. He then took his helmet off and slammed that into the grass, a sign this was a serious injury.

The Jaguars were 8-3 coming into Monday’s game, and a win over the Bengals would give them the No. 1 seed in the AFC. A loss would drop them to fourth place for now, but would keep them at the top of the AFC South division. The Bengals, even with backup Jake Browning in for Joe Burrow, have given the Jaguars a big fight.

Given how serious the injury looked, Lawrence’s absence could have widespread ramifications across the AFC. The Jaguars could not only fall out of the playoff picture but out of the playoffs entirely if Lawrence cannot return.

The Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans are both 7-5 in the AFC South. The Jaguars have the head-to-head tiebreaker over Indianapolis, but split meetings with the Texans. There are no more head-to-head games left but Jacksonville could fade down the stretch if Lawrence is out multiple weeks. The Colts and Texans do play each other in Week 18, with the possibility of that game being for the division.

At the top of the AFC, Lawrence being out for extended time would give the Dolphins, Ravens and Chiefs a boost. The Ravens play the Jaguars and Dolphins down the stretch, so missing Lawrence now is actually crucial for Jacksonville. It’s a rough way for an otherwise promising season to turn, especially if the quarterback has a fracture.