At midseason, the Jaguars and Colts are in an almost-perfect deadlock. They're each 5-3 and they've split their home-and-home series. So, who has the advantage over the final eight games of the season?
Well, the Jaguars have one obvious advantage: They will play five of their remaining eight games at home, while the Colts have four remaining home dates. Don't shrug your shoulders at that fact. It's big.
Only one – Pittsburgh at 7-1 – of the Jaguars' five home opponents currently has a winning record, so, it can be said the Jaguars have a favorable remaining schedule.
Two – Baltimore and San Diego – of the Colts' four remaining home opponents have winning records.
The remaining road schedule has the Jaguars traveling to Minnesota, Green Bay and Oakland. Clearly, the Minnesota and Green Bay games will be challenges.
Indianapolis will travel to Chicago, Detroit, Houston and Denver, which isn't a bed of hot coals but offers the potential for a loss or two.
Now here's the real issue: The Jaguars need to beat Detroit and Chicago to have any chance of holding a "common opponents" advantage over the Colts.
Those games don't exactly turn you on? Well, they could end up deciding who wins the AFC South. Here's how.
In non-division "common opponents" games, the Jaguars are currently 2-1. The Colts are 3-1. "Common opponents," of course, is the third tie-breaker and would be employed if the Jaguars and Colts finished the season in a tie and they each had the same record in division games. That could happen.
So the whole thing could come down to those "common opponents" games that sit so unattractively on the Jaguars' schedule. Detroit, yuk! Chicago, yuk!
Yuk? Far from it. The Detroit game this Sunday is huge. It's not just about a win or a loss, it's about a game that could bring the Jaguars even with the Colts in the "common opponents" race. Minnesota, Green Bay and Oakland are also "common opponents" games.
Who has the advantage at midseason? Give the Jaguars a scheduling advantage but, of course, the Colts hold a half-game lead in division record and "common opponents."
Frankly, there is no distinct advantage. This is as close to a dead heat as you can get.
Half a season is in the books. The AFC South winner will be the team that plays the best football in the second half of this season. It's just that simple.