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'Losing season' is a relative term


The majority opinion of Jaguars fans is that this has been a losing season for the Jaguars. Hmmm, 7-7, with the potential for 8-8 or 9-7? The numbers say neither of those would qualify as a losing season. In fact, the Jaguars would have to lose their last two games for this to officially qualify as a losing season.

Nonetheless, public perception says 2000 is a loser, and that requires us to define the term "losing season." What does it mean? Is a losing season any year in which the Jaguars don't make the playoffs?

That would seem to be the case in any NFL city where making the playoffs had become a staple. In that case, towns such as Jacksonville, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Kansas City, Washington and Green Bay have already clinched or are near clinching losing seasons, even though they could each finish the season without losing records. In fact, expectations in Washington were such that anything short of winning the Super Bowl would be regarded as a losing season.

Then there are towns such as Cincinnati, which has a 12-year tradition of not making the playoffs. In Cincinnati, public perception is very different than it is in places such as Jacksonville, which has been spoiled by whirlwind success. In Cincinnati, 8-8 is a winning season, simply because it isn't another losing season.

If you think you have it bad as a Jaguars fan, consider your poor Bengals brethren. Cincinnati hasn't had a winning season since the Bengals went 9-7 in 1990. Since '91, the Bengals are 47-112 and have already clinched their seventh season in the last 10 years in which they've lost 11 or more games.

Now, that's losing, the kind of losing that truly makes you appreciate winning. What do you think it'll be like in Cincinnati the next time they make the playoffs?

In Jacksonville, making the playoffs had become no big deal. Jaguars fans had set their sights on the Super Bowl this season, and that's why 7-7 and out of playoff contention qualifies as a downer year.

The Jaguars are 62-42 in their brief six-year history. They've already played in eight postseason games, two of which were AFC title games. The Jaguars are the most successful expansion franchise in NFL history, which is a distinction the Bengals once enjoyed.

Yes, it would seem everything is relative. In Jacksonville, 7-7 is a significant fall from 14-2. In Cincinnati, 7-7 would be reason for great celebration.

If Jaguars fans are lucky, they'll never know that kind of celebration.

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