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Festivities have begun

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A flavorful week of exchanging barbs will end with one of the tastiest matchups in Jaguars history: The defending AFC South-champion and the division's dominant team of the new century attempting to defend its turf in a possible pass-the-torch game against the upstart Jaguars.

"We just want to be the best team on Sunday," Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio said on Wednesday, as his team began preparation for a game that is likely to decide both teams' fate.

The division title and the playoffs are on the line. For the Colts, it goes even deeper. Is this the end of their run and the start of the Jaguars'?

No one is admitting to a case of big-game jitters, but both sides were clearly anxious to kick off the confrontation. Colts running back Dominic Rhodes got it started when he referred to the Jaguars as "little brother."

"Who said that?" Jaguars cornerback Rashean Mathis said when asked about Rhodes' remark. "Until someone dethrones them, they'll still be big brother. I don't see it as a shot."

Sure.

Will Colts President Bill Polian and Colts coach Jim  Caldwell perceive a remark Del Rio made on Wednesday as a shot?

Asked about a video Caldwell did this week that challenges Colts fans to be the 12th man on Sunday and make noise that would obstruct the Jaguars from hearing quarterback David Garrard's snap count, Del Rio said: "I think that's better than piping it in."

That, folks, was very definitely a shot.

The Colts, of course, were accused by more than one team for piping in crowd noise at the old RCA Dome. The Colts now play in Lucas Oil Stadium, another domed facility.

Is the noise an issue, Del Rio was asked?

"Noise can be an issue anywhere if you don't handle it well. You have to have poise in the noise. Their pass-rushers are better at home," Del Rio said, obviously referring to the advantage Colts defensive ends Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis have against offensive tackles having to function in a silent count.

The Jaguars haven't played a regular-season game of this magnitude since before Del Rio was coach; some are even suggesting this is the biggest regular-season game in Jaguars history.

"No one's been through a game like this for a while around here," running back Maurice Jones-Drew said.

"It's fun. If you don't have something on the line, it's not exciting. This is what it's all about. This is what everybody plays for. We'll find out this weekend if we have what it takes," quarterback David Garrard said.

Games of this significance, of course, are old hat for the Colts.

"I don't know if it's a pass-the-torch game, but this could be a huge step for the Jaguars organization. You have to show up for games like this because you know they will," Mathis said.

It would appear the festivities have already begun. 

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