When the schedule was released, this was the game on which Jaguars fans' eyes first fell. Jaguars at Colts in week three; yeah, that would be the first of two games that would decide the AFC South title.
Come again, please. Not only is this a game that probably won't decide the division title, it's a game that could leave the Tennessee Titans with a two-game lead in the division before the season is a month old.
If there's one thing absolutely certain about the NFL, it's this: Those that think they know can be absolutely sure they don't know. Jim Mora's words have never been truer.
I've decided that next spring and summer, when everyone is consumed by predictions for the upcoming season, so much so that they want to scoff at anyone who doesn't share the popular opinion, I will refuse to participate. From now on, when I'm asked who I think will win the division, my answer is going to be "I don't know" because I truly don't know and, by the way, neither do you.
I picked the Jaguars to win the division, yet, if they lose on Sunday, they will, in my opinion, effectively have been eliminated from division title contention in just week three.
How about Peter King of "Sports Illustrated?" He picked the Jags to go to the Super Bowl and he's still so sold on the Jaguars that, despite the Jags' 0-2 record, he won't quit on them.
The Colts? They've found a way to get to 1-1 but that's only because they found a way to play one good quarter of football in the eight they've played so far this season.
Nothing would suggest that this is the first of two games that'll decide the division title. Looking at it from the Colts' perspective, they have games remaining at Green Bay, Pittsburgh, San Diego and Cleveland, in addition to games at Tennessee and at Jacksonville. They also have a midseason game at home against New England.
Just two weeks into the season, this week-three feature attraction would seem to be more of a game of survival than of ascent to the top of the division. If the Jaguars lose, the popular opinion will be that they will be resigned to playing for a wild-card berth. If the Colts lose, the national boys will write that the Peyton Manning era may be nearing an end.
It sure isn't like we thought it would be, is it?
Here are 10 things the Jaguars have to do to beat the Colts.
- Run the ball—You know what this means. It's the time-honored formula for controlling the ball and keeping Manning on the sideline. It takes on special meaning in this game because Bob Sanders is out with an ankle injury.
- Rush the quarterback—Manning's blockers are a mixed bag. There's no excuse for not getting heat on him.
- Cover tight—That's what it'll take to give the rush time to get to Manning. Forget the soft-zone stuff. It's seldom worked.
- Get open and do something—The Jaguars wide receivers have to do more than catch and fall down. They have to start making plays or the field is going to shrink more every week.
- Protect the quarterback—David Garrard has been sacked nine times in two games. That won't work.
- Lead them to victory—That's what a quarterback must do. That's what Garrard must do.
- Now do something with it—Maurice Jones-Drew wants the ball. He'll get it on Sunday. The rest is up to him.
- Feel the desperation—It's the closest thing to a playoff game week three has to offer. The Titans host the Texans. You can do the math.
- Motivate yourselves—Playing hard isn't good enough. You have to play harder than the other team. It starts with that.
- Start new—Wipe the slate clean. The season starts this Sunday.