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Playoff contender or bye-week tease?


The schedule is favorable. Five of the next eight games will be played at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium. Only two of the next eight opponents currently have a winning record. Will the Jaguars be a playoff contender, or are their three wins in the last four games just a tease?

"Yeah, we can make it into the playoffs," the always aggressive-thinking Clint Ingram said. "It's up to us to take the next 10 games head on. We'll see."

The Jaguars are being careful not to get ahead of themselves. After all, they're only 3-3. What has fans and media asking the question, however, is the fact the Jaguars currently are the number six team in the AFC, based on record and applicable playoff tiebreakers.

"We're treading water," coach Jack Del Rio said. "We've given ourselves a chance in our division. You've seen glimpses of a good team. It hasn't been as consistent as you'd like."

Just about everybody agrees the Jaguars need to win the next two games, at winless Tennessee and at home against one-win Kansas City, to have any shot at making a playoff run. The Titans are also in a bye week and that's a reason for some anxiety, since coach Jeff Fisher is expected to use the bye week to initiate a fresh-start kind of feeling on the league's most disappointing team.

"After hearing coach Fisher's comments that they're going to practice this week, we have a lot to work on," running back Maurice Jones-Drew said.

The Nov. 1 game in Nashville, against a Titans team coming off a 59-0 embarrassment in New England, will have a distinct edge to it. The Jaguars, no doubt, will be expecting to be ambushed in a game that'll likely test the Jaguars' mettle. Playoff contender or bye-week tease? The answer will likely come in Tennessee.

"We're going to be a tough team. We're going to play hard football. We earned 3-3 and that's what we are," Jones-Drew said.

"We'll take a look at ourselves, at specific things we need to be better at," Del Rio said of the bye-week intent.

Clearly, the Jaguars need to be better against the pass. They are 30th in the league in pass-defense and dead last in sacks. It's the one area that's holding the team back. In every other way, the Jaguars are respectable; 11th in rushing, 12th against the run and 14th in passing.

So how do they fix their pass-defense? The answer to that question, provided there is an answer, will likely determine whether the Jaguars are a playoff contender or bye-week tease.

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