JACKSONVILLE -- Senior writer John Oehser checks in with a last look before the Jaguars visit the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts, Sunday at 1 p.m.
Jaguars (1-1), Patriots (2-0).
The task is formidable, and that's an understatement.
Actually, formidable is a really big understatement when it comes to playing the Patriots in Foxboro. They're the defending Super Bowl champions, and have controlled the game in each of their two victories to start the season.
The Patriots are heavy favorites Sunday and have one of the NFL's best offenses. They led the Steelers and Bills comfortably in Weeks 1 and 2 before winning by 14 and eight points, respectively. They haven't lost a game at home in which they hadn't clinched their playoff seeding since December 2012.
But the Jaguars appear to be an improved, deeper roster than the past two seasons when they finished 4-12 and 3-13, respectively. They lost their regular-season opener, 20-9, to Carolina before beating Miami, 23-20, at EverBank Field last week.
The Jaguars played efficiently on offense in Week 2, and have struggled offensively in the second half each week this season. A 28-yard game-winning field goal by Jason Myers with :40 remaining against Miami marked their first second-half points of the season.
The Jaguars have been strong defensively for the most part this season, holding Carolina to 13 offensive points and holding Miami scoreless on its final five possessions last week.
The Jaguars enter the weekend with three significant unknowns.
Starting left tackle Luke Joeckel (ankle), starting right guard Brandon Linder (shoulder) and starting free safety Johnathan Cyprien (calf) were listed as questionable on the team's Friday injury report. All likely will work out before the game Sunday with decisions on their statuses determined at that time.
Joeckel worked limited Wednesday and Thursday while Linder sustained a shoulder injury in practice Wednesday and missed practice Thursday. Neither participated in the walkthrough practice Friday.
Wide receiver Marqise Lee (hamstring), running back Toby Gerhart (abdomen) and wide receiver Allen Hurns (thigh) were listed as probable and are expected to play. Tight end Julius Thomas (hand), defensive end Andre Branch (knee) cornerback Dwayne Gratz (ankle) were ruled out Friday.
Defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks (knee) and running back Denard Robinson (knee) were listed as doubtful and are not expected to play.
Let's use the final thought to emphasize what the Jaguars aren't thinking as they enter this game: they're not thinking this is a chance for a moral victory and they're not thinking there's nothing to lose. Those concepts are pregame fodder for media and fans, but the Jaguars are going to New England to play and beat the Patriots. The Jaguars are 1-1 and believe they should play well no matter the opponent. They didn't play well in the regular-season opener and lost to Carolina; they played better in Week 2 against Miami and won. The focus this week is on playing as well or better in Week 3 as Week 2 and seeing what result that brings against the defending Super Bowl champions.