JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser checks in with a last look before the Jaguars play the Atlanta Falcons at EverBank Field Sunday at 1 p.m.
Jaguars (5-8), Falcons (6-7).
This is a meaningful game. Really meaningful.
That hasn't happened at EverBank Field in a long, long time – not in December, anyway – but it will happen there on Sunday when the Jaguars play the Falcons. Because it will happen, all other storylines pale in importance.
The Jaguars don't control their own destiny for the postseason, but if they beat the Falcons Sunday they will remain alive in the chase for their first AFC South title. Their scenarios after that depend on the outcome of Sunday's game between the Houston Texans and the Indianapolis Colts.
The bottom line is this: if the Jaguars finish 8-8 and the Texans (6-7) and Colts (6-7) both finish 7-9, the Jaguars are assured of winning the division. It's a long shot, but the Texans and Colts are playing with reserve quarterbacks, so it's far from impossible.
Most important to the Jaguars is they must win, and that won't be easy despite the Falcons' current six-game losing streak. The Jaguars have won just one game by more than a score this season – a 51-16 victory over Indianapolis last week.
The Falcons lost to the unbeaten Carolina Panthers, 38-0 last week, but four of their most recent five losses before that were by a score or less.
Starting running back T.J. Yeldon and Leo pass-rushing end Ryan Davis are doubtful with knee injuries.
Denard Robinson likely will make his first start of the season in place of Yeldon after rushing for 75 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries playing in place of Yeldon last week. Third-year veteran Joe Banyard and second-year veteran Jonas Gray could play on a rotation basis behind Robinson if needed.
Also, starting middle linebacker Paul Posluszny is expected to start Sunday after missing last Sunday with a fractured right hand. He will play in a protective cast/club device on the hand, but Posluszny said Friday he is confident he can play without a drop-off.
Cornerback Dwayne Gratz (hamstring), tight end Nic Jacobs (hamstring), safety Sergio Brown (thumb) and wide receiver Bryan Walters (back) all were listed as questionable on the final injury report. Defensive end Andre Branch (groin), wide receiver Allen Hurns (thigh), defensive tackle Roy Miller (knee) and offensive tackle Jermey Parnell (knee) were listed as probable.
Just win. That's what the Jaguars must do, and that must be their only focus Sunday. There's no reason to worry about postseason scenarios or what-ifs? If the Jaguars win Sunday they will still have very real postseason hopes when Sunday's game ends. That's all that matters now. Just win.