The Jaguars host the Cleveland Browns on Sunday in a game that's expected to have a major impact on the eventual wild-card playoff picture. Both teams would like to think they're still pursuing division titles, but they each trail their division leader by three games and face significant uphill climbs.
"Everybody wants the Super Bowl. We got off to a rough start and so we're trying to focus and see if we can somehow win a game to stay close in this race," Browns coach Romeo Crennel said earlier this week.
At 2-4, the Browns have no wiggle room. They're facing a "killer" remaining schedule and Sunday's game is clearly win or else.
The Jaguars, 3-3, are coming off a bye week. They've won three of their last four games and they're healthier than they've been at any time since the start of the season.
Sunday's game against the Browns represents the first of five consecutive games that could see the Jaguars position themselves for a playoff spot. The Jaguars will then travel to Cincinnati and Detroit, both of whom are winless, before consecutive home games against Tennessee and Minnesota.
"We hear the doom and gloom when we lose. We hear you can win them all now because we win. I don't subscribe to any of that," Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio said.
The Jaguars will regain the services of safety Reggie Nelson for Sunday's game. Nelson missed the previous three games due to a knee injury and the Jaguars secondary seemed to suffer, as a result.
Center Brad Meester will also make his return to the lineup, after a three-month recovery from a biceps injury. Guard Chris Naeole may also begin seeing playing time.
Cleveland will be without leading receiver Kellen Winslow, who has been suspended by the team for one game due to conduct detrimental to the team. Winslow's absence is likely to cause wide receiver Braylon Edwards to become quarterback Derek Anderson's number one target. Edwards has caught 20 passes for 307 yards and two touchdowns.
Anderson burst onto the scene with a career year in 2007. It earned him a long-term contract that would seem to have made him the Browns' quarterback of the future, but he has played poorly through the first six games of this season and a bad outing against the Jaguars could result in 2007 first-round pick Brady Quinn replacing Anderson.
"We're always aware of who the backup is and what things they may want to do within their system to utilize that person," Del Rio said.
Jaguars running back Fred Taylor will be a featured performer on Sunday. Taylor only needs 43 yards to reach 11,000 career rushing yards.
Wide receiver Mike Walker will miss his second consecutive game. Walker is recovering from a knee infection.
Jaguars fans continue to wait for the emergence of wide receiver Jerry Porter, who is logging more playing time with each passing week but has yet to become a target of quarterback David Garrard.
"He's as healthy as he's been in a while," Del Rio said of Porter, who underwent hamstring surgery in July.
Healthy? That's a word that would best describe the playoff chances of Sunday's winner.