JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser checks in with a last look before the Jaguars play the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tennessee, Sunday at 1 p.m.
Jaguars (4-7), Titans (2-9).
The chatter and banter has quieted, but the focus must remain.
If there's a theme for the Jaguars this week besides all red zone all of the time, that may be it – that while the postseason talk that surrounded the team the previous two weeks has faded, there are still games to be played. And they are, in fact, important games.
They begin Sunday when the Jaguars play the Titans for the second time in 17 days, with the Jaguars having won the first matchup 19-13 in a prime-time, Thursday night game at EverBank Field on November 19.
The Jaguars exited that weekend one game behind the Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans in the AFC South, a margin that spawned talk of the postseason. That talk waned in the wake of the Jaguars' loss to San Diego this past Sunday, a loss that – coupled with victories by Houston and Indianapolis the same day – left the Jaguars two games out of first place with five remaining.
Still, the Jaguars on Sunday have a chance to win for a fourth time in six games, and a victory would give them five for the season. They haven't reached that total since 2011.
The focus on Sunday morning likely will be wide receiver.
Starting wide receiver Allen Hurns has been ruled out with a concussion sustained in the fourth quarter against San Diego, which means the second-year veteran will be out for the first time in 27 NFL games. Expect second-year veteran Marqise Lee to start and get his most extensive work of the season.
Lee missed six of the first eight games with a hamstring injury and has been targeted just once in the last two games.
Wide receiver Bryan Walters, a key reserve receiver this season, was listed as questionable with a back injury Friday, and free-agent rookie wide receiver Neal Sterling was listed as questionable with an illness that kept him out of the San Diego game. Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley said Walters could be a game-time decision.
Starting Otto linebacker Dan Skuta and reserve running back Toby Gerhart also were ruled out Friday. Rookie Thurston Armbrister likely will play the Otto in Skuta's place for a third time in four games.
Running back Bernard Pierce (calf) also was listed as questionable, with the following players probable: defensive end Chris Clemons, safety Johnathan Cyprien (abdomen), safety Josh Evans (concussion), tight end Marcedes Lewis (ankle), defensive tackle Roy Miller (knee) and kicker Jason Myers (back).
While the Jaguars' playoff hopes now seem slim, Sunday matters very much for a developing team. The Jaguars have won three of five games, and have won four of six games just once since the 2010 season. Winning has seemed unusual around the Jaguars for too long. Sunday is another chance to make it seem more familiar, and that's a feeling this franchise needs to firmly establish by season's end.