The Jaguars left the practice field this afternoon supremely confident for their game in Baltimore against the favored Ravens this Sunday.
"They gotta beat us. Everybody's counting them in. All I know is we win a lot of games around here, regardless of the adversity we have. We just ready," wide receiver Keenan McCardell said.
McCardell's comments were echoed by his teammates. Though the Jaguars are an underdog (three points) for the first time since a late-season loss in Minnesota in 1998, and though the Ravens have one of the most feared defenses in the league, and though the Jaguars will be without star running back Fred Taylor, the Jaguars truly believe they will win.
"We know we have that dark cloud over their heads," wide receiver Jimmy Smith said of the Ravens, who are 0-8 against the Jaguars since moving to Baltimore, and 0-10 as a franchise. "There's always going to be doubt in the backs of their minds. Deep down inside, I don't think they think they can beat us," Smith added.
Those would seem to be fighting words, but the Ravens had cast the first stone early in the week, calling this game their "Super Bowl." The Jaguars, who've frustrated the Ravens with several narrow victories, including an overtime win in 1996 that began the second-year franchise's "Cinderella" run to the AFC title game, have become the source of the Ravens' greatest frustration.
"They haven't been to the playoffs, but they think they're a playoff team. They're riding their whole season on this game," Smith said.
It's a game being billed as Ray Lewis and his defense against Mark Brunell and his offense. They are the two feature units. The forgotten people play on the Jaguars defense and the Ravens offense, and that grates a bit at the Jaguars defense, which was ranked first in the league last season when the Jaguars scored a 6-3 win over the Ravens in Jacksonville.
Then, the Ravens were the second-ranked defense, but the Ravens got the bulk of the publicity because holding the Jaguars offense to six points was considered to be a much greater achievement than holding the Ravens offense to three points.
"It's something we have to prove. Let's see who's number one," cornerback Aaron Beasley said. "We believe in ourselves. This is their 'Super Bowl' and we're the underdog. All we have to do is go in and win."
"I'll just let Sunday speak for itself, because I think it's going to surprise some people. Why shouldn't we be confident?" McCardell asked.
The Jaguars named their Friday inactives: Taylor, offensive tackle Leon Searcy, center John Wade and defensive tackle Emarlos Leroy.