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The real game of the year


If you're looking for a big game in late December for a team realistically out of playoff contention, it doesn't get any bigger than this. This Sunday's game against Tennessee has a big game feel to it for reasons that should excite Jaguars fans.

Here's why:

  • Let's start with the game's tangible importance. Tennessee and Indianapolis are locked in a down-to-the-wire battle for the AFC South Division title. If both teams win their remaining two games, the Titans will win the title, based on their two wins over the Colts.

The Titans play in Houston on the final day of the season. So, it would seem, Sunday's game at Alltel Stadium is the Titans' season. This one will be for the division title. And the Jaguars can be the spoiler, just as the Titans' spoiled the Jaguars' "rightful" place in the Super Bowl three years ago. But there's a lot more storyline in this game than just the Jaguars' chance to gain a measure of revenge against the Titans. This one will clearly impact coach Tom Coughlin's approval rating, which improved slightly with the win over the Bengals this past Sunday. Winning will do that; even a win over the Bengals.

With a rousing win over the Titans this Sunday, Coughlin's approval rating is likely to spike. But a loss to the Titans could produce the same kind of bitter disappointment that resulted from that AFC title game loss to the Titans in January of 2000.

What remains of this season for the Jaguars is all about how it will impact public opinion for what should happen after the season. Should everything stay the same, change a little or change a lot? How would a rousing win over the Titans shape your opinion?

It's very likely Sunday's game will be blacked out to the Jacksonville TV market. That would be very unfortunate because, with all due respects to Steve Spurrier's glorious return a month ago, this one would seem to be the real game of the year.

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