Kickoff week is a time to declare. It's a time to make proclamations and here's mine: In the year 2008, the Jaguars will win their first-ever AFC South Division title.
Yeah, that's my prediction. I stand by it and I will accept full praise or criticism for it, whichever may be the case at season's end.
Here is my complete forecast for the 2008 season. I do it all for you, the reader, so that you may print it out, save it and throw it back in my face at season's end.
##### AFC East
- Patriots, 2. Jets, 3. Bills, 4. Dolphins
This will be the most improved division in the NFL and it's not solely because the Jets acquired Brett Favre. The Bills are an improved team with Trent Edwards at quarterback and the Dolphins, in my opinion, will be the most improved team in the league and might be a surprise playoff contender. The Patriots are still the class of the division, but age has rusted their dynasty.
##### AFC West
- Chargers, 2. Broncos, 3. Raiders, 4. Chiefs
San Diego should ease into the postseason from what might be the weakest division in the league.
##### NFC North
- Vikings, 2. Packers, 3. Lions, 4. Bears
Minnesota is a muscle team that needs only an improved performance from its quarterback to rise to elite status. Green Bay begins a rugged transition. Detroit and Chicago flounder.
##### NFC West
- Seahawks, 2. 49ers, 3. Cardinals, 4. Rams
Matt Hasselbeck gives Seattle stability at quarterback that San Francisco and Arizona lack. St. Louis is mired in a soon-to-crash Scott Linehan era.
AFC playoff teams
##### NFC playoff teams
Cowboys, Giants, Vikings, Saints, Panthers and Seahawks
Cowboys beat Chargers
Here are 10 things the Jaguars have to do to beat the Titans in Sunday's season-opener.
- Stop the run—The Titans want to run the ball; must run the ball. Stop the Titans' running game and you stop the Titans.
- Achieve balance—The Jaguars have the quarterback now to keep the eighth man out of the box, and that should allow the Jaguars' running game to be even more effective.
- Make him be a passer—No scramble yards; Vince Young must be kept in the pocket and forced to make plays with his arm.
- Win special teams—Jeff Fisher likes to spring a special teams surprise and he's had an entire summer to prepare one. The Jaguars had a whole summer, too.
- Focus—Distractions must be eliminated. This is the regular season. This is a division game in a season in which the expectation is for the Jaguars to win a division title. Embrace the importance of this game.
- Be firm on the left side—Left tackle Khalif Barnes and left guard Vince Manuwai must hold their own against Kyle Vanden Bosch and Albert Haynesworth.
- Show your worth—A lot of money has been invested in the Jaguars' receiving corps. It's time for it to pay dividends.
- Quiet the crowd—A whole offseason of energy will be released across the country this weekend, which will make it very difficult for visiting teams. What do you do to defeat it? Control the ball and win time of possession. Long, sustained drives by the opposition are demoralizing for the home folks.
- Make the heat your ally—That's what the Titans did in Jacksonville last year and it was embarrassing for the Jaguars.
- Win the turnover battle—Ok, let's get this out of the way right now. Winning the turnover battle is always number one, but I don't want to write that week after week after week, so let's acknowledge right now the importance of winning the turnover battle and I won't bore you with that coachspeak any more this season.