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It's a playoff-like game

Join Senior Editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.

Andrew from Charlotte, NC:
Peyton Manning said this is a playoff game. Who can argue with Peyton?

Vic: He's right; it is. It's especially a playoff game for the Colts because a loss could seal the deal for them. Should they lose, their string of eight consecutive playoff seasons would come to an end. A loss wouldn't knock the Jaguars out of playoff contention, but those hopes would be dealt a severe blow.

Kelvin from Atlanta, GA:
What was the turning point to the Jags' season? The after-effects of the Philly debacle? The Scobee kick?

Vic: The win in Dallas was the turning point. I don't think there's any question about that. Everything about this team has been different since then. What caused that turnaround? Was it just a case of the team reaching a point of maturity? Was it the concussion from which David Garrard was recovering that caused him to rethink and reshape his game? I don't know, but it's intriguing.

Marc from Portland, OR:
How many game-winning field goals does Scobee have against the Indianapolis Colts?

Vic: Three: 2004, '08, '10.

Eric from Norfolk, VA:
Looks like Monday Night Football will be played outdoors in minus 17-degree temperature. For some reason, to me, that game just got a little bit more interesting.

Vic: Monday night's game between the Bears and Vikings will offer Vikings fans a snapshot of themselves and the state of pro football in Minneapolis. Once upon a time, when the Vikings played at Metropolitan Stadium in nearby Bloomington, Minn., the Vikings were the best cold-weather team and their fans were the heartiest in the league. Those were the days of Bud Grant, who forbid heaters along his team's sideline. Then the Vikings moved indoors and it's been nearly 30 years since Vikings fans have braved the great outdoors to watch a game in frigid conditions. So what will Monday's attendance be? How will the fans react to a true cold-weather game? Have the Vikings and their fans lost their soul, which is to say their tradition for being a hard-nosed, outdoors team and fans? Or will Monday's game rekindle that outdoors spirit and kick-start a stadium movement in Minneapolis that will bring back the old days? I'm interested in this game, too, more for how the fans will react than for how the Vikings will react.

Michael from Syracuse, NY:
My dad took me hunting at three a.m. one winter; it sucked. He also took me to Archbold Stadium on a cold day and we wore these plastic cushions with foam in them to sit on. That moment, I think it was Dan Marino handing off to Tony Dorsett and him going like 98 yards for a touchdown, was when I fell in love with football. Did you ever go to that stadium and, if so, any stories?

Vic: Marino followed Dorsett, so it would've had to have been somebody else, but that's unimportant. What's important is that you had one of those moments; we all have had one and I get e-mails every day from people who want to tell me about their moment. For me it was the first time I wandered upon a high school football practice. I knew right then that this was for me. Archbold Stadium is where Tom Coughlin played. It's where Jim Brown and Ernie Davis and Floyd Little played. In the 1970's, Syracuse moved into the Carrier Dome. Suddenly, fall was gone. That's why I don't like domes. There's no fall.

Adam from Chandler, AZ:
I really think this game will come down to who controls the line of scrimmage. What do you think the most important matchup will be?

Vic: The Jaguars defense against Peyton Manning. This is his game. He's carried the Colts on his shoulders this season and in the worst season of the mature years of his career, he's still been good enough to carry the Colts to a game for the division title. Is he still the same guy or will this season have been his first perceptible move downward? The Jaguars defense will answer that question.

John from Jacksonville:
Do you think the Jaguars have to get pressure on Manning to win this game?

Vic: Absolutely, they do. If they don't make him move or hurry his throws, the Jaguars won't win. I think it's that simple.

Brian from St. Johns, FL:
Vic, are you saying Woody Paige's "Jagwad" article in the 1996 playoffs had no affect on the performance on the field in Denver? It was stated numerous times after the game by the players that they were driven by that article.

Vic: I didn't hear any of them talking about that article when the score was 12-0 in Denver's favor at the end of the first quarter, after the Broncos had moved down the field on another long touchdown drive. Isn't it funny how that works? Pep talks and bulletin board material are only talked about when a team wins. You wanna know what the issue was for the Broncos that day? It wasn't Paige's column and the inspiration it gave the Jaguars that was the difference in the game, it was the fact that the Broncos had clinched the number one seed in the AFC so early in the season that they hadn't played 60 minutes of football in over a month when they met the Jaguars. They shut it down in early December and started resting their players, lost two of their last three games, one of them a 41-6 beat-down in Green Bay, and had lost all of their momentum heading into the playoffs.

Dane from Jacksonville:
Fred Taylor or Maurice Jones-Drew? Pick one.

Vic: I'm not gonna play that game. You pick one. I have too much respect for the talent each of those men has allowed me to enjoy to snub one of them.

Erik from Orange Park, FL:
Why haven't you made a push for your readers to vote for the Pro Bowl? Only your team's players, of course. The more Jags players that get in, the more attention our team will get.

Vic: I'm not a publicist or a campaign manager. I'll tell you what each guy has done and what his contributions have meant to the team. I'll put it all there for everyone to read, but I'm not gonna tell people how to vote. It's the fan's responsibility to do the rest, plus I would never tell people to vote for a guy solely because he's a Jaguars player. I have too much respect for the game, its players and the process to treat the balloting process frivolously.

Adam from Jacksonville:
It seems that Jason Hill has emerged as our biggest deep threat. Do you see his role increasing on Sunday and the remainder of the season?

Vic: One catch does that? Easy, now, easy.

Erick from St. Augustine, FL:
In the media, I often hear reference about a team needing to find an identity. They bemoan teams that lack an identity and praise those that have one. Why would a team want an identity? If the team plays well and has balance, who cares? It seems to me if you have an identity, teams can easily prepare for you.

Vic: Balance is an identity, so is lack of balance. Anything that represents a repeating theme becomes a team's identity. Why do teams want an identity? Because the best teams are the most predictable teams. What about the Colts will surprise the Jaguars on Sunday? Nothing. They'll throw the ball 40 times or more, getting rid of the ball quickly by hitting receivers as they come out of their breaks. They'll pick defenders with crossing routes and inside the 10-yard line they'll run trap and trap pass. Everybody has known for a long time what they'll do, but stopping it has been very difficult because the Colts' execution is precision-like. If unpredictability was the key to winning, then the Colts should run the ball 40 times on Sunday. Nobody would expect them to do that. Do what you do best. As predictable as that sounds, it's what works and it becomes your identity. All good teams have one.

Bruno from Paris, France:
I wanted to know how salary was calculated for the playoffs?

Vic: It's predetermined, per the Collective Bargaining Agreement. The division champions in last year's wild-card playoff games received $21,000 per man; the wild card teams received $19,000 per man. All of the teams in the divisional-round playoff games received $21,000 per man. The four conference-championship game teams received $38,000 per man. Last season's Super Bowl winner received $83,000 per man and the loser got $42,000 per man.

Matt from Ocilla, GA:
Lucas Oil Stadium resembles a barn to me. Is it supposed to?

Vic: Perception is a funny thing. The first time I saw it, it reminded me of a steel mill. There's a power plant right next to the place, so it kind of fits the motif of that section of town. I think it's a handsome building. Indianapolis, because of its location, is a big convention town and an indoor facility really does make sense there. It's a good town. I like Indianapolis a lot. I enjoy going to Indianapolis and Nashville. They're flavorful towns and they're just the right size. The AFC South is developing its own flavor and I like the way it tastes.

Mark from Palm Coast, FL:
Could you explain what an elite team or quarterback is? It seems that this term is used so loosely that it seems meaningless. I would think elite is recent sustained success in the postseason and based on that I would think that would currently be New England and Pittsburgh. I keep hearing how Philip Rivers is an elite quarterback but what has he done in the postseason?

Vic: There are degrees of elite, kind of like degrees of the red zone. There's the red zone, which is inside the 20, and then there's the tight red zone, which is inside the 10. In my opinion, any team or player that is consistently at the top of the standings or rankings is worthy of the "elite" designation. I would consider Rivers, therefore, an elite quarterback. Plus, he's had success in the postseason twice against the Colts. The second level of elite is sustained postseason success and New England and Tom Brady define that level of elite performance. The Colts and Peyton Manning have clearly been an elite team for a long time, but I hesitate to put them into the New England, Brady class, for the obvious reason.

John from Jacksonville:
Any chance Zach Miller might be slated for a reverse play and then pass downfield?

Vic: Darn it, Bethany, you guessed it.

Robert from Evanston, WY:
I was listening to Jaguars This Week and one of your callers stated that they were scared of Peyton Manning, this game, etc. A lot of fans are nervous about this game because of the Colts' ability to pass the ball so well. Do you think the Colts are just as nervous to play us due to our strong running game?

Vic: Neither team is nervous. They know that won't work. It is what it is and they are what they are. All they can do is play, so they dedicate themselves to playing the best football they can play and let the chips fall where they may. It just doesn't do any good to worry and I encourage fans not to worry, either, because there's nothing they can do but watch. Just watch, baby. That's all. Anxiety takes the fun out of it. Here we go.

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