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Just 'one thing:' Feel good


The weather is supposed to be something considerably less than Florida-like, a first-ever Jaguars TV blackout has been lifted only because of a ticket buyout by a local TV station, and everything points to fan apathy for this Sunday's game against an opponent whose season is headed for a merciful conclusion.

Is this December, the most dramatic month of the NFL season? It is for the true playoff contenders, but, in Jacksonville, what's left of the home season are games against uninspiring Cleveland and Arizona, and the conclusion of a season that was supposed to send the Jaguars to the Super Bowl but now isn't likely to produce even a playoff berth.

Popular opinion is the Jaguars' season ended last Sunday with an uplifting win over the Tennessee Titans that left Jaguars fans satisfied that at least something was accomplished this season; one more thing than was accomplished a year ago, when the Jaguars beat the Titans no times.

So, you've decided nothing more significant can be accomplished this year? You're wrong. Here's why.

Last season produced a league-best 14-2 record and a 62-7 win over the Dolphins in the playoffs. It was the season from heaven, until the Titans plunged us into hell with a 33-14 win in Jacksonville in the AFC title game.

With that loss, the entire mood of the Jaguars franchise changed. It was a devastating defeat that sentenced this team to an offseason of despair. It may have even affected the Jaguars into the start of this season, which began 2-6 and had the Jaguars out of serious playoff contention before the midpoint of the season.

That's what ending the season on a losing note will do, and the Jaguars aren't the only franchise that has suffered that consequence. Downer defeats have crushed a lot of franchises. Green Bay hasn't been back to the playoffs since it lost on the last play of the game in San Francisco in the 1998 playoffs. The same can be said of Pittsburgh after it lost in the 1997 AFC title game.

It isn't always that way. The Denver Broncos rallied to win two Super Bowls after losing to the second-year Jaguars in the 1996 playoffs, and it appears as though the Dolphins used their 62-7 loss to the Jaguars as motivation for 2000. But, losing usually isn't good.

What the Jaguars can achieve in the final four games of this season is a feel-good attitude for the offseason, and that can carry all the way into next training camp. The Jets may have done that with their late-season rush last season. Three years ago, the Falcons won six of their final eight games, then rode a shocking 14-2 record to the Super Bowl the following season.

What's wrong with feeling good? Nothing. It beats feeling bad, which was the case last offseason.

Winning-out with six straight, and a 9-7 record that would be the Jaguars' fifth consecutive winning season, would be no small feat. It would be reason for moderate celebration.

Oh, by the way, there will not be the usual "10 things the Jaguars have to do to beat the Cleveland Browns," the result of a lack of things. We are left with only "one thing to do" against the Browns: Show up.

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