Two mirror-image teams are preparing to entertain the nation on Monday Night Football, in a game that will go a long way toward deciding the AFC South championship.
The Tennessee Titans are a physical team, Jaguars defensive end Aaron Kampman was reminded.
"Yeah, so are we," he shot back.
So, are you ready for some football?
Running back Maurice Jones-Drew talked about the need for the Jaguars to have fun, but interviews in the Jaguars locker room on Thursday had a squeaky sound to them. Make no mistake, this is a special game that is almost certainly getting special talent in both cities.The Jaguars have the league's fourth-best running game; the Titans' running game is sixth-ranked. The Jaguars aren't very good at defending against the pass, as evidenced by their 29th-ranking; the Titans are 27th against the pass.
So this will be a clash between two teams that are likely to focus on running the ball and playing away from each other's weakness. So much for strategy.
"Focus and discipline: It means this is a very fundamental game, as far as having to defeat the run game. You can usually tell in the first couple of steps who's going to win the play. This is definitely that kind of game," Kampman said.
The Titans' Chris Johnson is second in the league in rushing with 485 yards. Jones-Drew is tied for eighth with 406 yards. They will be the featured performers on Monday at EverBank Field."Whoever wins the game is going to be first in the division," Jones-Drew said. "If I outrush him and lose, what's the point?"
Consensus opinion is the Jaguars will enjoy an advantage at quarterback, where David Garrard is coming off consecutive strong performances in which he's thrown five touchdown passes against one interception. Titans quarterback Vince Young is playing at one of the highest levels of his career, but he's traditionally struggled against the Jaguars.
"We're gearing up for what we believe will be a physical confrontation," Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio said. "We want to keep our quarterback in rhythm. It'll be a challenge going up against their front."
The Titans have one of the best pass-rushes in the league (22 sacks). The Jaguars' 12 sacks are just two shy of tying last year's mark, which was worst in the league.
"They play with a little chippiness, maybe," Del Rio said of the Titans, who were accused by Denver coach Josh McDaniels of dirty play. "It doesn't bother me a bit," Del Rio added.
Passing? Sacks? In this game?
"Chris Johnson is where it starts," Del Rio said.
"What do they want to do?" Kampman asked. "They want to run the football. We have to take away what they want to do."
"The fans that have been haunted by '99," Del Rio said of the Jaguars' upset defeat at the hands of the Titans in the 1999 AFC title game, "we'll see what we can do."