Sometimes I get a particular feeling about a game and I'm getting one for this Sunday's game in Kansas City.
What kind of feeling? The feeling that this is a game, should the Jaguars win, that could launch this team into something real good.
I'm not predicting victory and I'm not saying this is a must-win game or that a loss would send this team into a decline. I just have this feeling that, should the Jaguars win, the situation in Jacksonville could get real good.
Here's why I feel that way and I think there's some logic to what I'm suggesting.
- A win in Kansas City would mark the Jaguars' second consecutive road win, and nothing spells success like winning on the road.
- At 3-1, the Jaguars would come home for two critical division games. They are the kinds of games that should rally the team and the town, but not nearly as much coming off a loss as they would coming off a win.
- A win in Kansas City could have major tie-breaking impact down the road. With a win in Kansas City, the Jaguars would be half way through a sweep of the AFC West, with the remaining two games against AFC West teams to be played in Jacksonville.
Reason number three is the big one. A sweep of the AFC West would mean the Jaguars would hold a tie-breaking advantage over every team in that division. When you consider that the AFC East is unlikely to produce a wild-card candidate, a sweep of the AFC West would dramatically increase the Jaguars' playoff chances.
Conference games are critical. We saw that on the final Sunday of last season. The tie-breakers left the Jaguars out of contention as the game progressed, even though the Chiefs and Jaguars had the same record and the Chiefs went to the playoffs by virtue of their win over the Jaguars and Pittsburgh's win in Cincinnati.
This is not a must-win game, but it's the kind of game that can put a team in the playoffs. It's the kind of game that, should the Jaguars win, could launch them into legitimate playoff contention.
Here are 10 things the Jaguars have to do to beat the Chiefs.
- Stop Larry Johnson—The Jaguars didn't do that last year, as Johnson rushed for 138 yards and three touchdowns.
- Protect the punter—The Jaguars didn't do that last year, as the Chiefs blocked a punt and recovered it in the end zone for a touchdown.
- Avoid costly interceptions—The Jaguars didn't do that last year, as David Garrard threw a careless interception that Ty Law returned to the two-yard line.
- Run the ball—The Jaguars didn't do that last year, as Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor combined for just 72 yards rushing.
- Play with desperation—It has to be that way every week, and I'm not sure it was in last year's season finale.
- Get top cornerback play—Rashean Mathis and Brian Williams need to be at the top of their games because the Jaguars will probably need to involve an eighth defender against the run and that would leave Mathis and/or Williams in man-to-man coverage.
- Sack the quarterback—Damon Huard is not a mobile quarterback. There is no worry about him breaking contain. Go get him.
- Start fast—The Chiefs have been outscored 17-0 in the first quarter.
- Answer the critics—They're pointing to the Jaguars' 1-3 record in games after the bye week. Let them know that this is a different Jaguars team; this is a more mature Jaguars team.
- Join the playoff race—That's what the Jaguars will have done if they win this game.