JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser checks in with a last look before the Jaguars play the San Diego Chargers at EverBank Field in Jacksonville Sunday at 1 p.m.
Jaguars (4-6), Chargers (2-8).
The Jaguars' reality has changed for the better in the last month.
The mission now: stay in that reality.
The Jaguars, after a four-game losing streak dropped them to 1-5, have won three of their last four games to rejoin the AFC South chase. The recent stretch also has moved them into realistic contention in the AFC wild-card race with six games remaining.
To stay there, they must keep winning.
The Jaguars beat the Baltimore Ravens 22-20 on November 15 in Baltimore, then followed that with a 19-13 victory over the Tennessee Titans in Jacksonville on November 19. It was a four-day stretch that not only gave the Jaguars their first two-game winning streak since 2013, it kept them within a game of Indianapolis (5-5) and Houston (5-5) for first place in the South.
The Jaguars play three of the next four games at EverBank Field, and after playing the Chargers – a team that enters Sunday on a six-game winning streak – they will visit Tennessee. The Titans (2-8) have lost eight of their last nine games.
There appears to be little mystery regarding Jaguars injuries entering Sunday.
Dan Skuta, the team's starting Otto linebacker in nine of 10 games this season, was ruled out for the game on the Friday injury report with a groin injury. Rookie free-agent Thurston Armbrister is expected to start in his place.
Safety Craig Loston (ankle), running back Bernard Pierce (calf) and wide receiver Neal Sterling (illness) were listed as doubtful and aren't expected to play Sunday.
Listed as probable for the Jaguars were running back Toby Gerhart (groin), tight end Nic Jacobs (hamstring), wide receiver Allen Hurns (foot/thigh), defensive tackle Roy Miller (knee), defensive tackle Michael Bennett (hamstring) and cornerback Peyton Thompson (foot).
The Jaguars are in contention and can put real pressure on the Colts and Texans. Not only are three of their next four games at home, but the next two games are against opponents that have struggled throughout the regular season. The Jaguars aren't favorites for the postseason yet, but they can put themselves a lot closer to the favorite's role in the next eight days.