The Jaguars are playing their best football of the season and eager to continue that trend against their greatest tormentor, the Tennessee Titans.
It is a game that represents revenge, atonement and validation. The Jaguars want to end the year of suffering the Titans began on Jan. 23 with a 33-14 win at Alltel Stadium in the AFC title game. Since then, life has been a pie in the Jaguars' face.
Titans coach Jeff Fisher began that trend two days after beating the Titans' AFC title game victory. In a Super Bowl press conference in Atlanta, Fisher snidely remarked that Alltel Stadium, where the Titans have won three straight, had become one of his team's other home stadiums.
All the Jaguars could do was wince.
"It didn't bother me, but I don't think it was appropriate," quarterback Mark Brunell said of Fisher's remark.
"I think he was having fun with it," offensive tackle Tony Boselli said. "Does it give you a little extra motivation? Maybe. It adds a little spice."
This Sunday's game could only have more spice if the AFC Central Division title was on the line, but the Jaguars exited that picture two games into October. The division title is the Titans' motivation. The Jaguars are playing for pride.
"You get after a team early and get things going, it's a clean slate," Boselli said when asked about the Titans' domination of the Jaguars. "This is a big one. They're the best team in the AFC, maybe in the NFL. There's no love lost. It's very physical. It's a very big game."
The Jaguars have lost five straight to the Titans and have repeatedly had to defend themselves against criticism that they are not as physical as Tennessee. It's a claim that cuts at the heart of the Jaguars' pride.
"That's going to be a big issue this week. It's something we'll talk about. It's whoever wins the game, that'll be the more physical team. If we win, we won't hear that anymore," Brunell said.
Coach Tom Coughlin was in New York, where his brother had died Sunday and was buried today. Coughlin was to return to Jacksonville later today.