The Jaguars are hoping the numbers don't lie. What numbers? The numbers that say the Jaguars' fan base is growing.
"We're on the verge of having our 100,000th fan on Facebook and a couple of weeks ago our Twitter went over 10,000 followers. They're key milestones because we just started our key social media initiative about a year ago last August," Jaguars Chief Financial Officer Bill Prescott said.
Yeah, OK, that's cool, Bill, but what does it all mean?
"It means we've found a medium with which we can connect with our younger fans. It allows us a way to take these fans and drive a deeper engagement with the team with a platform they are on on a regular basis," Prescott said.
The numbers are at a sensitive stage. The numbers on the last two Thursdays prior to Jaguars home games say the team still doesn't have a fan base large enough to avoid requesting a 24-hour extension to avoid a blackout. The numbers also say the Jaguars are closing the gap between where the team is and where the team needs to be, which is to say sold out and not having to worry about whether or not its games will be shown on local TV.
"I think the fan base is growing," Prescott said. "We're still a small market, so the numbers may not equate to a larger market, but I've noticed that we have a much younger fan than we did five years ago. That young fan when we got the team is becoming the ticket-buyer.
"Obviously, you'd like to avoid (extensions)," Prescott added. "We seem to be in that 3,000-4,000 range. That indicates to me that we need to get that season-ticket base up from 39,000 to the 42,000-43,000 range, so we don't have to ask for these extensions to avoid blackouts. Getting our games on TV; that's what our goal was. The games are important to be on TV. Asking for the extension is a reminder that we still have work to do."
That the Jaguars are in a hot December race for the AFC South title will likely mean all of its regular-season home games will have made it onto local TV this year. Only one home game will remain following this Sunday's game against the Raiders. What if the Jaguars hosted a playoff game?
"Our goal is that our building will be a sellout for a playoff game, not just get the blackout lifted," Prescott said.
The league sets ticket prices for postseason games and prices would be higher than they are for regular-season games, but Prescott said: "We've worked to keep it where I think it'll be very affordable for our fans. We were able to work with the league to make that ticket affordable."
Here are 10 things the Jaguars have to do to beat the Raiders.
1. Stop the run—The Raiders win by running.
2. Run the ball—Pass-defense is the Raiders' strength.
3. Protect the quarterback—The Raiders are number one in the league in sacks per pass play.
4. Rush the quarterback—The Raiders are one of the league's worst teams at protecting the quarterback.
5. Prepare for the worst—The weather forecast is for rain and falling temperatures.
6. Win turnover battle—On a bad-weather day, turnovers are likely to happen, and they'll likely determine the outcome of this game.
7. Make crunch time your time—This is it. This is December. This is decision time.
8. Welcome "Big John"—He's upset at being cut. He's called his old team out. What will be its response?
9. Send a message to Indy—They'll be watching, for sure.
10. Feel the fedora—December defines quarterbacks.