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Strength of schedule matters

Join senior editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.

Heather from Jacksonville:
I wanted to say that I love your column. I've learned more about football by reading your column this season than ever before. Keep up the great work. I know you hate the what-if game, but what if we win Sunday and Indy loses? What's the playoff picture then?

Vic: You want Indy to win. Indy isn't the competition; the Bengals are. What if Indy and the Jaguars win on Sunday? Then, I think you'll see a scenario in which the Jaguars could clinch a playoff berth in week 16.

Stuart from St. Louis, MO:
How did the Jags run the ball 42 times but only get a three-minute advantage in time of possession?

Vic: They scored too quickly. It's tough to get much time of possession when you run 76 yards on the first play from scrimmage and 18 yards for a touchdown on the next play. Imagine, a 94-yard touchdown drive in two plays and one minute. I was laughing to myself in the press box that the Jaguars just ran "T three-power" and "T eight-power" for a touchdown. Yeah, what a sophisticated game; the route tree, the progression, etc. Run "T three-power" and "T eight-power" in your video game and see how many yards you gain.

Brad from Jacksonville:
What's the reason for the Jaguars wearing the black uniforms? Was this a move by Wayne Weaver? Did Weaver need to lobby the NFL to allow the third uniform to be worn twice this year? I think we play tougher in these uniforms. I think the fans should immediately mandate that the Jaguars wear these uniforms for the Texans game next season. In fact, I'll start a petition drive.

Vic: You guys are all missing the point. It's not about black uniforms or Jack Del Rio's maitre d' outfit. The Jaguars win when I wear my Beavis and Butt-head boxers.

Joshua from Fontana, CA:
I apologize for ripping you about the Saints. They really are a contender. I was wrong, you were right.

Vic: I tried to tell you. It's the Saints, baby. Saints and Ravens in the Super Bowl. Yinze laughed at me.

Dan from Chapel Hill, NC:
Speaking of strength of victory, do you think that who makes the playoffs should be determined by a weighting of the final record against the strength of schedule, or is that brushing-up against a BCS system?

Vic: I'd like to see strength of schedule figure more prominently into the tie-breaking processes, which include playoff seeding. In my opinion, the NFL's scheduling formula is not working. It produced a Super Bowl team (Seattle) last year that had the least difficult schedule in the league and it kept a quality team (San Diego) with the league's most difficult schedule out of the playoffs. Last year's division standings were in inverse order of strength of schedule in every division. The teams that played the most difficult schedules were at the bottom of their divisions and the teams that played the easiest schedules were at the top. It's happening again this season. The conclusion is obvious: A team's performance is directly related to its strength of schedule. The current scheduling formula, in my opinion, is producing undeserving playoff teams and skewing the playoff seeding order. If they can't fix the scheduling formula so that it produces a more balanced and fairer distribution of opponents, then I think the league should at least reward those teams that have played the more difficult schedules by giving greater weight to strength of schedule in the tie-breaking and seeding processes.

Chris from Jacksonville, FL:
I know this may be looking too far ahead, but I was wondering that if the Jags ended up going to San Diego, how do you think the Jags' stout run-defense would match up to L.T. and the Chargers run-offense?

Vic: The Jaguars defense can match up with anybody. I have no concern about the Jaguars' run-defense, pass-defense, run-offense or even special teams. All of my concern is for the Jaguars' passing game. How would the Jaguars fare against a team such as Baltimore, that can match up against the best receivers one-on-one? Baltimore is a team that dares you to throw. We're going to get a taste of that when the Patriots play at Alltel Stadium. The Pats are number three against the run. They dare you to throw. What'll happen when the Jaguars have to throw against a team that doesn't have to soften its pass-defense to load up against the run?

Michael from Binghamton, NY:
Why is it that every wild-card contender that has won two games in a row is comparable to the 2005 Steelers? Why is it that every playoff team with a mediocre quarterback is the 2000 Ravens? Why do we keep looking at teams in the past, trying to justify our Super Bowl expectations? Let's just watch the rest of the season unfold and enjoy it. Win or lose, it's great football.

Vic: The past offers a point of reference. It helps us understand and appreciate. Why are you afraid of it?

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