This season will forever be remembered for the events of Sept. 11, otherwise we might recall it for the impact the NFL schedule-maker can have on the fortunes of a couple of franchises.
Consider the schedules of the Jaguars and their opponent this Sunday, the Tennessee Titans:
• With the postponement of this past weekend's games, the Jaguars will complete their September schedule without having played a game outside Jacksonville or outside the division.
• Now consider the early-season plight of the Titans, who will play four of their next five games on the road. Three of those four road games will be against their chief competitors in the AFC Central: Jacksonville, Baltimore and Pittsburgh. The fourth road game will be in Detroit, a legitimate challenger in the NFC Central to Tampa Bay, the favorite to win the NFC title and the Titans' lone home opponent during this five-game stretch.
How's that for a killer stretch of schedule. Fast start? How?
The Jaguars have clearly been blessed by the schedule. This team doesn't dare complain about the potential loss of playoff berths to the rescheduling made necessary by last week's national tragedy.
But, to take advantage of their most-favorable early-season schedule, the Jaguars must defeat the Titans monster that has haunted them since the Titans handed the Jaguars their only three losses of the 1999 season. The Jaguars must beat a Titans team that has won three of its last four games in Alltel Stadium. Beating the Titans here last season was nice, but nothing was at stake.
This time, the whole season may be at stake, and the Jaguars have everything in their favor. Titans quarterback Steve McNair is nursing a sore shoulder that may keep him from playing, running back Eddie George is said to be hobbled by a troubling toe injury, and there were losses on defense in the Titans' season-opening defeat to Miami.
The odds are dramatically stacked in the Jaguars' favor. This is the Jaguars' chance to strike a blow to the Titans that may do to that franchise what the Titans' AFC title-game win in the 1999 season seemed to do to the Jaguars last year.
If the Jaguars beat the Titans this Sunday, the schedule says the Titans may not recover. It could be the loss that becomes the beginning of the end of the Titans' Super Bowl window of opportunity.
Vic Ketchman is the Senior Editor of Jaguars Inside Report, the official team newspaper of the Jacksonville Jaguars. One-year subscriptions may be purchased by calling 1-888-846-5247.