The Jaguars are fully aware of the significance of Sunday's game in Indianapolis. They understand that already, in week seven, their AFC South title hopes are on the line. Coach Jack Del Rio acknowledged as much.
"As far as the division goes, this is a huge game. To not have it go that way (a Jaguars win), would make it difficult to catch them," Del Rio said.
The Colts lead the AFC South with a 4-1 record. The Jaguars are 4-2. With a win over the Colts, the Jaguars would assume a half-game lead in the division and will have evened the season series with the Colts at one win apiece. Should the Colts win, however, the Jaguars would fall two games behind the Colts in the loss column and, of course, will have lost the top tie-breaker (head to head) to the Colts.
In simple language, a loss in Indianapolis Sunday would effectively drop the Jaguars three games behind the Colts, and that might be too much to make up with what would remain of the season.
"You get three games down and you're asking everybody for help. We understand the significance of this game," quarterback Byron Leftwich said.
But do the Colts understand the significance as it applies to them? Do the Colts fully appreciate the Jaguars' desperation? Do the Colts understand how their position and place would be significantly altered by a loss to the Jaguars? Wide receiver Reggie Wayne says the Colts are aware.
"We know that if we can pull this game out, we'll have a nice lead. It's not going to be easy; it's going to be a tough one. We know they are going to come out and play; that's what they do every time we play them. If we lose, we can put ourselves in a tough situation as well, so we've got to go out and do the best we can do, play our football and try to get a win out of it," Wayne said.
The oddsmakers would seem to be trying to lull the Colts to sleep. The Jaguars are a huge underdog. Whoa! Are we talking about the same Jaguars who came within a controversial holding penalty of beating the Colts in the teams' first meeting three weeks ago?
"We know if we win this game we can make it really tough on Jacksonville. If we can continue to win, then they would have to play almost perfect football to catch us, so it's important," Colts coach Tony Dungy said. "They had kind of the same opportunity when we went down there. They had a home game. They had a one-game lead on us and they could have really made it tough for us to catch them. We went down there with some determination and knew it was huge for us. I think they'll come up feeling the same way.
"Now the shoe is on the other foot and we're going to have to be just as determined to get the job done," Dungy added.
Oh, yeah, it's showdown time in the AFC South. In fact, it's going to be showdown time for the Jaguars each of the next two weeks. Just ahead is a trip to Houston, where the 3-3 Texans have all of a sudden announced themselves as a playoff contender.
"We have division title hopes. We can't let Indianapolis get out to a point that we can't catch them. The key for us is focusing on playing good football. Those other things will take care of themselves," Del Rio said.