We need to keep this in perspective.
Because of that, we won't overdo giddy as we break down the 10 things the Jaguars must do Sunday. There has been enough giddy in the wake of the victory over the Ravens Monday, a victory that helped make Sunday's game against Houston pretty interesting for the Jaguars.
But that's all Sunday's game is right now: interesting. We can call it big, and it could be season-saving, but it's not enormous, and it's not season-defining.
But what's that you say? The Jaguars are only two games behind Houston? And they're very much in this thing, even after a five-game early-season losing streak?
But the Jaguars still aren't as much "in it" as they are on the fringe of in it. The thing about 1-5, which the Jaguars were, is you can win a game and still have a long way to go. That, the Jaguars do.
But before I'm accused of being the eternal pessimist, I'll say this: What the Jaguars showed Monday was impressive stuff. Follow it with more impressive stuff, and there are the makings in that victory Monday of a potential season-changing run. The Jaguars have shown guts and they've shown defense. They haven't shown much offense, but sometimes enough of the first two can turn into a few victories. That can mean momentum, and who knows what that can mean?
Maybe that can happen. Maybe the Jaguars can prove to everyone they were right when they believed for six games they were close. Maybe the Baltimore victory is the start of something.
Maybe they can go to Houston this week, and come back after the bye and get one over Indianapolis. Do that, and you've got Cleveland next and a team with a whole lot of belief in itself.
Now, that? Well, that would be interesting.
1. Make Matt Schaub make mistakes.The Texans' quarterback is good, but Shaub's not infallible. In back-to-back losses to Baltimore and Oakland this month, Schaub's completion percentage was near 50 percent. He can be pressured into mistakes. Do it.
2. Shut out the noise.Again with this? Yes, but it's different this time. For several weeks, the noise was that the Jaguars were terrible and going nowhere. The players didn't believe that. Now, the buzz is, "Hey, this defense is pretty good." The buzz doesn't matter. Do what you've been doing.
3. Forget the past.The Jaguars historically have struggled in Houston, with a 3-6 record since 2002. So what? At some point, history like that has to be history.
4. Maintain momentum.Many, many teams pull off big victories through the course of a season. Good teams follow up big victories with victories and winning streaks. The victory over the Ravens was impressive; you have to maintain it.
5. Slow down the running game.As much notice as Matt Schaub and the Texans' passing offense receive, when the Texans are dominant and dangerous it's when they're running effectively. Ben Tate and Arian Foster are both ranked in the Top 10 in the AFC in rushing. As good as the Texans are passing, the offense starts here. The Texans want to run downhill and they want to make you spend so much focus and energy on stopping their cutback running game that you open yourself up for play-action passes. The Jaguars held Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice to 28 yards rushing. Sunday will be just as difficult.
6. Contain Andre Johnson.The All-Pro wide receiver has a chance on Sunday to return after being out since October 2 with a hamstring injury. When healthy, he is a player who basically is impossible to stop for an entire game. At some point, he's going to make a significant play or two. What you can't do is let him take over for multiple touchdowns. The Jaguars stopped the Ravens in part because Rashean Mathis and Derek Cox played man-to-man and shut down the Ravens' receivers. If he's healthy, Johnson is a much more difficult cover.
7. Get a touchdown on defense.The Jaguars were dominant defensively against the Ravens. It will be harder to hold the Texans to seven points. A touchdown from the defense would take some pressure off an offense that is pressing in the passing game.
8. Get Gabbert going.He did a good job the last few weeks of not making mistakes and keeping the Jaguars in games. That was understandable. The Jaguars played the Saints, Bengals, Steelers and Ravens, a group that included some big-time defenses. No defense in the NFL is terrible, but now that you're past that gauntlet, let Gabbert throw a bit more. All he has heard all week has been about his footwork and pocket presence. Those need work, but you can't let the need for improvement keep you from using him as a weapon.
9. Run Maurice Jones-Drew.You did it against the Steelers. And the Ravens. And – well, you've done it against every opponent. Do it again. It's what you do.
10. Convert in the red zone.The Jaguars had two point-blank drives Monday and turned that into three points. Touchdowns in the red zone, not field goals. If you settle for field goals, it eventually gets you beat.