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Jaguars win AFC South, head back to playoffs for first time since 2017

The Jacksonville Jaguars have officially gone from worst to first.

Just a year after a three-win campaign, the Jaguars defeated the Tennessee Titans, 20-16, on Saturday to win the AFC South title.

In his first season as Jaguars head coach, Doug Pederson has engineered a massive turnaround, with Jacksonville finishing the regular season at 9-8 to secure its first winning record, division crown and playoff berth since 2017.

"Sounds great. Sounds really, really good," Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence told ESPN reporter Lisa Salters of being playoff-bound. "It's hard to sum up this season and what we've been able to do. To get an opportunity to go play in the playoffs. Another home game here. We're fired up."

A year ago at this time, the Jaguars were picking up the pieces from a 3-14 campaign in which an Urban Meyer hire had gone bust before the season's end.

That led to the Jaguars with the No. 1 overall pick in the draft for the second year in a row.

Now, Jacksonville is the third team since the 1970 NFL/AFL merger to have the No. 1 pick and win its division the following season, according to NFL Research. They join the 2004 San Diego Chargers and 2008 Miami Dolphins.

While 2022 top pick Travon Walker is now set to make his postseason debut, so too is Lawrence, the 2021 No. 1 selection. After an underwhelming rookie season, Lawrence has emerged as the burgeoning talent most prognosticated he would become.

Lawrence will potentially find himself in a marquee matchup opposite another former first-round pick, as the Jaguars will either face Justin Herbert and the Los Angeles Chargers or the Baltimore Ravens, who could have Lamar Jackson back under center.

From the AFC South cellar last season to one of the hottest teams in the NFL, the Jaguars are now bound for the playoffs on a five-game winning streak.

"Nobody ever lost faith," Lawrence said. "Everyone believed in one another. We never started pointing the finger. We lost five straight, and we just got tighter. After the bye week, we started correcting some things and started rolling. It's cool to see a team come together like we have, and we're just excited to get another opportunity next week."

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