Even on a short week and a couple of short nights of sleep, there was no back-off or lack of energy in coach Jack Del Rio's mood when he met with reporters on Wednesday. The Jaguars' goal is to win the AFC South Division title and that means having to beat the Indianapolis Colts.
"They beat us twice last year. They went 14-2 and we went 12-4 and the difference was they beat us twice," Del Rio said. "We played the same schedule. Our first opportunity to play them (this season) is on Sunday."
It's showdown time in the AFC South. Though it's only week three of the season, the Jaguars are facing the first of two games this season that will directly decide the AFC South title.
"They had to beat the Titans to get over the hump. We have to win in our division to beat the Colts and do the same," Del Rio said.
The Colts have won the division title the previous three seasons and are the favorites to do it again. The Jaguars, of course, are trying to end the Colts' run of dominance, which is now at 10 consecutive wins over division teams and counting. The last time the Colts lost to an AFC South opponent was on Oct. 24, 2004, when the Jaguars scored a 27-24 victory at the RCA Dome.
"They've dominated our division … and we're in pursuit of them. We're trying to be division champs and in order to do that we have to win in our division," Del Rio said.
Winning in Indianapolis this week will require an especially gritty effort by the Jaguars, who are battered and sore from Monday night's win over the Steelers. The Jaguars' injury report – to be released at four p.m. on Wednesday – was to include 13 players, all of whom are listed as "questionable" and most of whom did not practice on Wednesday.
"Guys are banged up. Both teams have some banged up guys," Del Rio said.
"This is a big game," he added with emphasis. "I'm pretty confident they'll have our full attention and we'll have theirs. I acknowledge we're human beings and there's a natural tendency to go up and down. We want to fight that urge."
Del Rio is stressing to his players the importance of turning their attention fully to the Colts and not dwelling on the satisfaction of having beaten the Steelers. It's a "one game at a time" message that will be his season-long theme.
"It starts today. It's not something you turn on Sunday morning when you wake up. The whole emblem thing on the wall … there can't be a more succinct message than that," Del Rio added.
The Jaguars lost in Indianapolis in week two of last season, 10-3, when the Jaguars succumbed to a heavy pass-rush by Dwight Freeney and company. Later in the season, the Colts were accused of amplifying crowd noise.
"I think it's always loud there, even some times when people are sitting and don't have their mouths open. It's a good, loud atmosphere. We can't be concerned that there may or may not be those things going on," Del Rio said.
The Jaguars' concern is for wresting the division title away from the Colts, and the first attempt will be this Sunday.