JACKSONVILLE – Six games remain.
And if it's not entirely accurate to call these upcoming weeks – the weeks after the 2014 bye and before the end of the regular season – a six-game season, they still matter very much to the Jaguars.
Yes, they're 1-9. And no, the playoffs aren't realistic.
But do the final six games – a stretch that includes four games against contending teams, including a road game at the AFC South leaders Sunday – matter? Are there goals to be achieved, and is there something to be gained?
Yes, yes and yes.
That's true of the entire team as the Jaguars exit the bye, and rookie quarterback Blake Bortles said it's definitely true of a young offense searching for consistency.
"I think we've seen some glimpses of it," Bortles said as the Jaguars (1-9) prepared to play the AFC South-leading Indianapolis Colts (6-4) at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis Sunday at 1 p.m.
"You've seen glimpses of the running game and the passing game trying to put the whole thing together. I think to continue to learn from things that haven't gone right and continue to try and improve the things that have … I think that's the biggest part of it, to try and limit mistakes and definitely learn from them."
The Jaguars enter Sunday focused on turnovers. Their minus-11 takeaway-giveaway ratio is tied for 29th in the NFL, and turnovers offensively inside opponent territory have hurt. The Jaguars have turned the ball over nine times in that situation, with each turnover a missed chance for points.
Defensively, the challenge is to stop big, explosive plays. The Jaguars have allowed more than 30 this season, and with the Colts and quarterback Andrew Luck ranked No. 1 in the NFL in passing offense, big plays will be key Sunday.
The Jaguars enter the final six games of the season relatively healthy. They are without rookie wide receiver Allen Robinson, out for the season with a stress fracture in his right foot, but tight end Marcedes Lewis is expected to start after missing eight games with a high-ankle sprain. Right guard Brandon Linder (shoulder strain) will return after missing a November 9 loss to Dallas.
Wide receiver Allen Hurns sustained a concussion against Dallas, but was cleared shortly after the team's bye weekend this past weekend and is expected to start opposite Cecil Shorts III. Rookie wide receiver Marqise Lee is expected to play the No. 3 receiver role.
Defensively, cornerback Dwayne Gratz will start at corner opposite Demetrius McCray, with Sherrod Martin and rookie Aaron Colvin expected to play the nickel. It will be Colvin's first action of the season after spending the first 10 games of the season on the Physically Unable to Perform list with a torn anterior cruciate ligament sustained in January.
Here's a look at this week's Jaguars-Colts coverage on Jaguars.com …