This is it, folks. This is the Jaguars' chance to take the AFC South lead. That's what the next five weeks should offer.
Over the next five weeks of the season, the Jaguars will play each of their three division counterparts; two of them at home over the next two weeks. The Jaguars will also play at Tampa and at New Orleans.
During that same stretch of season, the Colts will play at Jacksonville, at Carolina, at home against New England and at San Diego. As you can see, this is when the Jaguars must make their move on the Colts.
The first order of business is to beat the Texans on Sunday. A victory would set up a Monday Night Football showdown against the Colts that would allow the Jaguars to move into a first-place tie with the Colts and hold the head-to-head tie-breaker. It would mark the first time the Jaguars have been in first place in the AFC South that late in the season since the Jaguars were alone in first place following week eight of the 2004 season.
This is one of the few times that taking a peek ahead may not be a bad thing. Knowing what would be on the line against the Colts should provide even more motivation for the Jaguars to beat the Texans. A peek at the past wouldn't hurt either. Those two losses to the Texans last year cost the Jaguars a playoff berth, and that should intensify the motivation even more.
There's nothing about Sunday's game that should give us any reason to believe the Jaguars will take the Texans lightly. All signs point to a Jaguars victory.
Here are 10 things the Jaguars have to do to beat the Texans.
- Rush the passer—The Texans rely heavily on Matt Schaub to do it all. He must be disrupted.
- Catch the ball—The Jaguars have been doing a good job of that. They did a very bad job of that in this game a year ago.
- Embrace the formula—The defense dominates, the offense doesn't turn the ball over and special teams wins the battle of field position. That'll work.
- Cover the tight end—With Andre Johnson out, Owen Daniels is the man and he's been tough on the Jaguars.
- Rush for 100—It doesn't matter if it's by Fred Taylor or Maurice Jones-Drew, but the Jaguars need to produce a 100-yard rusher. They need a workhorse to emerge.
- Feel fall in the air—For the first time this season, there's going to be a hint of fall. There's a message in that.
- Win the coaching battle—Coordinators Dirk Koetter and Mike Smith are on a roll and it's giving this team a good feeling.
- Feed off the fans—Sunday's TV blackout should keep no-shows at a minimum and walk-ups might even fill the place. Wouldn't that be nice?
- Make plays—That's what the Jaguars didn't do against the Texans last year.
- Start fast—That's a formula that's worked nicely the last two weeks, too.