It has seemingly always been a game that cost one of its two teams an inordinate amount of pain. This Sunday's game between the Jaguars and Texans promises to do the same.
The two teams will meet at EverBank Field in a game that will propel the winner to a higher level of division title contention; the loser will be left to try to convince itself and its fans that it ain't over 'til it's over. That's what's on the line for these two 4-4 teams. Yeah, their seasons, maybe more, are on the line.
It was that way for the Jaguars the first time the teams ever met, back in 2002, when the Texans came to Jacksonville at midseason as a one-win expansion franchise. The Jaguars were 3-3 and fully expected to break back into the black and the playoff race. The Texans, however, returned a punt 47 yards following a lateral and it propelled them to a 21-19 win from which neither the Jaguars nor Tom Coughlin would recover. It would be one of five defeats by three or fewer points that season that cost Coughlin his job.
Two years later, the coach that replaced Coughlin, Jack Del Rio, was on the verge of taking his young team to the playoffs when the Texans rolled into town for a day-after-Christmas game. As it turned out, it would be a win-and-in game. The Jaguars lost, 21-0, and failed to qualify for the playoffs that season. The Texans delivered the mortal blow.
Fast forward to 2006, when the 8-8 Jaguars inexplicably lost twice in a four-week period to the 6-10 Texans. Yeah, once again the Texans had kept the Jaguars out of the postseason.
The Jaguars got revenge last year, for it was the Jaguars' two wins over the Texans that kept them out of the playoffs.
So, which team will play the spoiler on Sunday?
Here are 10 things the Jaguars have to do to beat the Texans.
- Score, baby, score—You're not gonna shut the Texans offense down. You'll have to score with them.
- Throw the ball—They're last in the league against the pass.
- Run the ball—The only reason they're 11th in the league against the run is because they're last in the league against the pass.
- Make them drive it—The more plays they have to make, the greater the chance they'll make a mistake.
- Rally your spirit—We've reached the point in the season that a lot of teams are playing without a lot of their star players. The Texans have injuries, too.
- Hit the quarterback—Matt Schaub has sore ribs.
- Attack the linebackers—The Texans aren't the same without DeMeco Ryans.
- Motivate yourself—This is the telling season. This is when the contenders are separated from the pretenders.
- Be young—It has its advantages. Energy can carry a team.
- Feed Marcedes—Lewis is having a Pro-Bowl year. He's become the Jaguars' star on offense.