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The one-point game


The subject was re-visited at Wednesday's press conference. It's the never-ending Jacksonville debate: Win with style, or just win, baby, win?

"Just one more point than the opponent every Sunday," Jack Del Rio said in response to a reporter who asked the Jaguars coach if he really believed one-point wins are good enough.

There were chuckles. Are you kidding me? Name one coach who wouldn't take 16 one-point victories. Name one coach who wouldn't sell his soul for 10 one-point wins a year for 10 years, which would make him a playoff fixture and give him Bill Cowher-like job security.

At some point in time this college crap's gotta stop. Style points don't matter in this league. There are no polls in professional football. The only objective is to win the game, by any point differential.

The NFL is a close-to-the-vest game. Get a lead, protect that lead. That's the pro style. It is not, get a lead, increase that lead.

Why isn't it the latter? Because that's careless, reckless. The pro game is very structured. It has precise strategies for specific circumstances, and it has players specific to the roles they play. Everybody has a job; just do your job.

"It's the way the league is," Del Rio said. "The hype and (media) coverage make people think there's a great separation between teams."

There isn't a great separation, of course, and "that's what makes the NFL appealing," Del Rio added.

Only one team currently has a "head and shoulders" look about it. That team is Indianapolis, which is 7-0 and has outscored its opponents 189-77. The Colts, of course, have only beaten one team, the Jaguars, that currently has a winning record, so we'll wait a while longer before we pronounce the Colts dominant. They play at New England on Monday; that'll give us an indication.

The rest of the league is all about parity. The 6-2 Broncos have been powerful looking this season, but they're only outscoring their opponents by six points a game. New England, 4-3, leads the AFC East but has been outscored by 21 points.

"There is no such thing as sorry teams in this league," Byron Leftwich said.

Sorry? No. There are, however, lesser teams that should produce the expectation of a comfortable point differential. The situation in Minnesota is that bad. San Francisco has likewise struggled, but last Sunday the 49ers came out of nowhere and handed the Bucs what is only their second loss of the season.

Houston has been one of those teams, too, but they have only ever been mauled once by the Jaguars, late in the 2003 season when they came to Jacksonville with a rookie quarterback at the helm. On all other occasions, including their expansion season in 2002, the Texans have been a pain in the Jaguars' behinds.

As Del Rio said on Wednesday, pro football is all about matchups, and for some reason the Texans seem to match-up well against the Jaguars. That's what concerns Del Rio. He's not buying into the notion the Jaguars should blow out the Texans.

Del Rio knows the pro game is about one team having the ball with two minutes to play and needing a field goal or touchdown to tie, win or send the game into overtime. It has been that way in four of the Jaguars' seven games this season.

What if I could offer him a seven-point lead with two minutes to play and the Texans on their 20-yard line. Would Del Rio take that?

How about a one-point lead and the ball with one kneel-down left in the clock? Would he take that? You bet he would.

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