This is not new ground for the Jaguars.
At 7-5, the Jaguars' season will be decided by what they do down the stretch. Under Jack Del Rio, they've been there before.
- In 2005, the Jaguars were 9-4 with three to play and won-out to earn a wild-card playoff berth.
- The following season, the Jaguars were 8-5 and on the verge of clinching a second consecutive wild-card berth when they lost-out and missed the playoffs.
- In '07, the Jaguars were 8-4 when they won three in a row, including a memorable win in the snow in Pittsburgh, to clinch a wild-card playoff berth that would produce the franchise's first and only playoff win since 1999.
- Last year, a young Jaguars team in reconstruction somehow managed to be 7-5 and in the lead for a wild-card berth when they lost four straight.
Which will it be this year?
"You learn from experiences in life, good and bad. I tend to want to look back to '05 and '07, when we did things right," Del Rio said at his Monday press conference, 24 hours after Sunday's surprisingly easy, 17-6 win at Tennessee.
This year's team is being compared to the '07 team, largely because of style: David Garrard was its high-efficiency quarterback, cast in a supporting role to a ground game that bulldozed through December. That's exactly what's happening now.
There is almost no comparison to last season's collapse, which followed a series of lackluster wins against low-echelon competition. So unspectacular were the Jaguars last season that national media pundits were mockingly asking the Jaguars to respectfully decline a playoff berth, should they win one.
That same media is praising this year's team, which has come out of nowhere to lead the AFC South. The Jaguars were picked by every preseason magazine and website that dabbles in such meaninglessness to finish last in the division.
"I like our physical approach. I like that we're playing smart, tough football and not turning the ball over," said Del Rio, who's being extra careful not to dabble in self-adulation.
Look back? Won't do it. Look ahead? Forget about it. Pat himself on the back for making the division title his team's goal last spring? No way.
"That's not where my focus is. I'm concerned with our football team growing. The vision has been laid out there. We must keep our focus," Del Rio said.
The focus is squarely on the next opponent, the Oakland Raiders, which scored a sweep of its two-game series with the San Diego Chargers on Sunday. The Raiders scored a 28-13 win in San Diego, where the Jaguars were thumped, 38-13, in week two.
"You get what you earn. I'm not doing a lot of looking back. I'm looking forward to the Raiders," Del Rio said.