This is the first of two games that will probably determine the AFC South Division title this year. Fresh off one of the most emotional wins in franchise history, the Jaguars are positioned beautifully to strike the first blow.
Will this Sunday's game in Indianapolis produce a changing of the guard? Or will it merely reinforce history, which has seen the Colts win three consecutive AFC South titles?
The Jaguars are the hottest team in the game. They are fresh off a shutout win over the Super Bowl-champion Steelers, and they have shot up to the number one spot in several national power rankings. All of a sudden, the media is in love with the Jaguars.
One national pundit even went so far as to say a win over the Colts would make the Jaguars the AFC Super Bowl favorite. One thing is for sure, a win over the Colts would put the Jaguars in the early-season driver's seat for the division title, which is the only guaranteed route into the playoffs.
"You can't rely on being a wild card. You don't know how that's going to fall. You have to try to win your division first, so these games become huge," Colts coach Tony Dungy said.
Yeah, this is huge. It's bigger than huge. It's enormous. We may not even know how enormous this game is until the season is over and we look back on this game. Last year, the difference between the Colts' 14-2 and the Jaguars' 12-4 was the Colts' two wins over the Jaguars.
Simply put, if you want to win your division, you have to beat your rival, and make no mistake about it, the Colts are the Jaguars' rival, even if the Jaguars aren't the Colts' rival.
Here are 10 things the Jaguars have to do to beat the Colts.
- Use your eyes—Because you won't be able to use your ears. The ability to function in the noise of the RCA Dome will be a direct result of the Jaguars offense's execution of its silent count.
- Dominate time of possession—That's how the Steelers and the Chargers did it. Usually, that means run the ball.
- Make Manning move—He's a pocket passer. The teams that have beaten him have pressured him.
- Close the screen door—First-round pick Joseph Addai has a flare for catching and running with screen passes.
- Corner the market—Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne have already combined for 26 catches and 442 yards. This one is on the Jaguars cornerbacks, Rashean Mathis and Brian Williams.
- Score a touchdown—You're not going to win many games without scoring one.
- Run at Freeney—Find out how hurt he is. Make him play run.
- Overcome adversity—There's plenty of it: bumps and bruises from playing the Steelers, a short week of recovery and piped in crowd noise.
- Reward the fans—Jaguars fans have never been more supportive. Give them another week of feeling good.
- Hit, always hit—Because the teams that hit are the ones that beat the Colts.