You can look at this game in one of two ways: 1.) In the midst of a 10-game winning streak, the defending Super Bowl-champion Colts are unbeatable. 2.) They're due to lose.
The Steelers were due to lose. They were defending Super Bowl champions and were on a nine-game winning streak when they came to Jacksonville for a week-two Monday night game last season, and lost, 9-0.
Will the Jaguars do it again? Will they end the winning streak of the league's reigning Super Bowl champion on Monday Night Football for the second consecutive season?
Jacksonville hasn't hosted a game with as much significance since Jan. 23, 2000, when the Jaguars lost to the Tennessee Titans in the AFC title game. Then, the Super Bowl was on the line. This Monday night, the stakes will be even higher.
The future of the franchise will on the line against the Colts. An exaggeration? Yeah, maybe, but maybe not.
This is a game that, should the Jaguars win, could change the fate of the franchise. A win would sell a lot of tickets. It might even end blackouts.
A win would put the Jaguars squarely in the AFC South driver's seat. A win would make the Jaguars a division title contender and, should the Jaguars go on to win the AFC South and host a playoff game, the future of professional football in Jacksonville would only grow stronger.
This is the kind of game that, should the Jaguars win, could spur this team on to true heights this season. What if they did something in the playoffs? What if, well, you know?
Now consider the alternative. See what I mean? It's that big.
Here are 10 things the Jaguars have to do to beat the Colts.
- Run the ball—You knew it was coming. It's how you beat these guys. You really can't do it any other way; at least not this team. It's how the Jaguars beat the Colts last year. It's how the Chargers ended their winning streak two years ago. It's how the Steelers beat them in the playoffs.
- Convert third down—You have to do that to get back to the run. David Garrard has been a masterful third-down passer this season. This game is seemingly made for him.
- Hold onto the ball—Run the ball and convert third down won't mean a thing if the Jaguars turn the ball over. That's the tough part about run the ball. It also requires that you convert third down and don't turn it over. If you achieve that triumvirate, however, you also achieve a time of possession advantage, and that's the best defense you can play against Peyton Manning and company.
- Hit the quarterback—I didn't say sack the quarterback. I said hit him. Yeah, he gets rid of it very quickly. Good! Make him get rid of it quick. Rush him, hurry him and knock him down. Make him be a football player.
- Muscle up on Marvin—Harrison doesn't like that.
- Stop the first-down run—Jack Del Rio says stopping Joseph Addai is the key. I say it's simpler than that. Stop first down and the Colts will quit on the run.
- Be more physical—This should probably be number one but I'm not buying this they're-more-physical stuff. I will say this: If the Jaguars don't out-hit the Colts, they'll have no chance of winning.
- Cop an attitude—We've all seen it. We saw it against the Steelers last year; against the Colts, too. That's what wins for this team. It wins when it plays angry.
- Use the fans—They want to play, too. Use their energy. Bond with them.
- Know what this game means—It means everything. It can change everything.