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Jags can take another step


If the time-honored formula still holds true, the Jaguars can take one of three remaining steps toward a playoffs berth on Sunday when they face the visiting Buffalo Bills.

"I think 10 wins will usually get you in; not always but usually," Bills head coach Dick Jauron said. "Nine, you have to be a little lucky."

The Jaguars can improve to 8-3 with a win over the Bills. The Jaguars lead the AFC wild-card race and also have home games remaining against Carolina and Oakland.

Buffalo is at 5-5 and facing a near must-win situation for their playoff hopes. A win would not only draw them within a game of the Jaguars, it would give the Bills the head-to-head tiebreaker edge over the Jaguars. A loss, of course, would leave the Bills all but out of playoff contention.

"We'll see where the whole thing goes but every game is THE game, so this game is THE game and the Jaguars are really a good football team and we know that. We're trying to get ready and play our best game and I know they're doing the same thing," Jauron added.

Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio has made a habit of praising his team's next opponent in his Wednesday press conference, and his praise has increased in recent weeks as the Jaguars head toward the deciding final month of the season. His praise for the Bills was especially stunning, considering that the Bills are coming off a 56-10 shellacking by the Patriots.

"We've got to be able to block their front. (Safety) Donte Whitner is being used very similar to how Bob Sanders is being used in Indy," Del Rio said. "They have, probably, the biggest offensive line in the league and they have speed at receiver.

"Losman can be streaky," Del Rio added of Bills quarterback JP Losman. "He made the big play last year."

The reality is that Buffalo is 31st in the league on offense and on defense and this is a game the Jaguars clearly should win. That may be Del Rio's greatest concern.

"Try to win our division. Try to win in the playoffs. Try to win the Super Bowl," running back Fred Taylor said of the Jaguars' expectations. "They shouldn't diminish. Stay on your path. That's what we're gonna try to do."

The Jaguars must beat Buffalo to stay a game behind the Colts in the AFC South race. The two teams face each other in Indianapolis next week.

Winners of seven of their last nine games, the Jaguars are bolstered by the return of quarterback David Garrard. He is, without a doubt, the top story of this season for the Jaguars.

"It's nice to have the clarity we have at that position. David is our guy and he's playing at a high level," Del Rio said.

On defense, the story is the loss of middle linebacker Mike Peterson to a broken hand in last Sunday's win over San Diego. Rookie Justin Durant is expected to replace Peterson in the starting lineup, but expectations are that Durant will play weakside linebacker, from which Daryl Smith will move to middle linebacker, as he did a year ago.

"There can't be a letdown. I'll make sure I'm on top of everything," Durant said.

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