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Here we go; '10 things'


Tom Coughlin has won his last six season-openers and is 6-1 overall. Tony Dungy is a mere 3-3.

That comparison is the major advantage the Jaguars have over the Colts in this Sunday's opener at Alltel Stadium. Simply put, the Jaguars have been sensational in season-openers, even when it's been against the odds.

Their streak began in 1996, when the Jaguars upset the visiting Steelers, whose previous loss was to the Cowboys in Super Bowl XXX. A year later, in Baltimore, the Jaguars won with Rob Johnson at quarterback, even after Johnson had to leave the game with a severe high-ankle sprain.

In Chicago in '98, the Jaguars drove 87 yards in 12 plays and scored the game-winner with just 29 seconds to play. A year later, the Jaguars swamped the visiting 49ers in a deluge.

Even in the Jaguars' past two losing seasons, they won their openers with ease, in Cleveland in 2000 and against the visiting Steelers, again, last season, even though the Steelers would go on to win 14 of their next 16 games.

Go figure. What is it about Coughlin and the Jaguars that make each so impossible to beat on opening day?

"I really believe in what we do for the opener. What we do from that Thursday (last preseason game) until the game is a formula that's been proven," Coughlin said.

Nobody's quite sure what the Jaguars do differently between their final preseason game and their opener, but we can only suspect they've done it again this year, and that'll help them do these "10 things" necessary to beat the Colts.

  1. Make that first hit on James a good one--Edgerrin James hasn't been tackled since midseason of last year, when a knee injury ended his season. First impressions are lasting.
  1. Pressure Peyton Manning--It's real simple: Sack him and win; don't sack him and lose.
  1. Give it to Fred--Coughlin loves balance, but I don't. Give the ball to Fred Taylor and don't stop giving it to him until his legs fall off.
  1. Pick your spots--Everybody wants to believe Jimmy Smith's return will instantly turn the clock back for the Jaguars passing game. It usually doesn't work that way. Don't get reckless.
  1. Score touchdowns, not field goals--That's especially true when your kicker is a rookie.
  1. Use the weather advantage--One o'clock in Sept. in Florida? The Colts will be a wilted pony in the second half when the rain begins and uniforms get real heavy. Play a lot of players and be "fresh" in the fourth quarter.
  1. Go to the supermarket--The Jaguars need a loud and supportive crowd, and good seats at still available at Winn-Dixie.
  1. Forget about "Big Three"--If this becomes a battle of the Colts' trio of Manning, James and Harrison vs. the Jaguars' triumvirate of Brunell, Taylor and Smith, the Colts are likely to win. Remember 2000? The Jaguars need to make this a low-scoring game.
  1. Improve kick coverage--The Jaguars have a lot of hungry, young players looking to make a name for themselves on special teams, but through the preseason they hadn't.
  1. Have a sense of urgency--An NFL season may be a marathon and not a sprint, but when three of your first four games are at home, you better come out of the blocks fast.
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