Let's take a look into the future; the realignment future.
In the AFC, there are three groupings of teams that are likely to stay together, for geographic and historic reasons. Those teams are: The Jets, Patriots, Bills and Dolphins in the AFC East, the Browns, Steelers and Bengals in the AFC Central, and the Broncos, Raiders and Chargers in the AFC West.
The swing teams would appear to be the Jaguars, Ravens, Titans, Colts, Chiefs, Seahawks and the new Houston Texans. One of those teams is going to go to the NFC, and the Jaguars and Seahawks are the most logical candidates.
If it is the Jaguars who move to the NFC, the Seahawks would round out the AFC West, and either the Ravens or Texans would do the same to the AFC Central, with one of those two teams going to the new AFC South, where it would join the Chiefs, Colts and Titans.
Of course, if it is the Seahawks who are moved to the NFC, then the Chiefs would round out the AFC West, and the Jaguars would move to the AFC South.
The Jaguars' realignment possibilities would seem to be restricted to the AFC or NFC South divisions. The latter would probably be preferable, if it includes the Bucs, Falcons and Panthers. That would make for great regionality. In fact, it makes so much sense that it probably won't happen.
Look for this:
AFC East--Jets, Patriots, Bills and Dolphins; they are committed to staying together and it works for the league.
AFC Central--Browns, Steelers, Bengals and Texans; the old AFC Central is re-united, with two new franchises in two old towns and four spanking-new stadiums.
AFC West--Broncos, Chargers, Raiders and Chiefs; four AFL teams whose union is supported by tradition.
AFC South--Jaguars, Titans, Colts and Ravens; four rogue teams who represent two intense rivalries.
The likelihood is that the Jaguars and Titans will stay together when realignment occurs in 2002. Here's 10 things the Jaguars must do to beat the Titans this Sunday:
- Gorge George--Unlike the Jaguars, the Titans do not seek balance in their offense. They'll run Eddie George 40 times if you let them. Stop George!
- Don't rush the quarterback--Steve McNair has his best games against pressure defenses, against whom he escapes for long runs. Keep him in the pocket and force him to throw into stacked coverages. Make him be a passer.
- Take the game to Fisher--How good a game-day coach is Jeff Fisher? Let's find out.
- Try the other side--Cornerback Samari Rolle has Mark Brunell's number. Throw at Denard Walker.
- Play in the middle of the field--The Titans over-play the sidelines against the Jaguars.
- Dose of their own medicine--The Titans kill the Jaguars with screen passes to George and tight end Frank Wycheck. Give them a dose of their own medicine.
- Don't be physical--Time and again the Jaguars have proven they can't match up physically against the Titans. Finesse is apparently the way.
- Taylor-made--Fred Taylor has had some of his best games against the best defenses: Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Miami, Tampa and Tennessee. They are all attack-style units, and aggressive defenses are vulnerable to the cut-back. Give him the ball, often.
- Kick it out of bounds--Anything is better than allowing Derrick Mason to do it to the Jaguars again.
- Defend your turf--Whose home is this, the Jaguars, or the Titans?