The time-honored formula for success has been to win at home and split on the road. It's a strategy for all sports. In the NFL, win-at-home-and-split-on-the-road will usually earn homefield advantage for the playoffs, which is the easiest route to the Super Bowl.
Once upon a time, winning at home was expected. But that's not the case these days. Look at the Jaguars. Their win was in Kansas City and their loss was at home to Indianapolis.
So why is winning at home not the given it once was? The Jaguars were 7-1 at home for four consecutive years, but they're 7-10 since the 2000 season. What gives?
For starters, NFL coaches have placed much greater emphasis in preparing their teams for road environments. Players have been "toughened" for the task.
But the real reason may lie in the transient nature of this new NFL, in which rosters seem to flip-flop annually. Where's home for today's football "gypsies?"
For example, fewer than half of the players on the Jaguars roster have only ever played for the Jaguars, and that includes 20 draft choices from the last four drafts, from which only one of those players, Jason Craft, isn't still playing under his rookie contract.
Homefield advantage would seem to have been compromised by free agency. Once upon a time, rosters were 90 percent "home-grown," and that's when winning at home was something you could count on.
Here's 10 things that would help the Jaguars score a win over the visiting New York Jets this Sunday.
- Stop the run--That would force Vinny Testaverde to put the ball in the air. You want the ball in Testaverde's hands.
- Be aggressive on offense--The Jets defense has allowed 105 points in three games. Their confidence has to be low.
- Give the crowd reason to cheer--The Jaguars are looking for a re-birth of homefield advantage. Their fans will jump on the first sign of excitement.
- Be truly special--The Jaguars' coverage teams have not been special. That must change Sunday against two return men, Chad Morton and Santana Moss, who have distinct big-play ability.
- Ride the hot hand--Mark Brunell is playing at a high level, but, more importantly, his enthusiasm and assertiveness are at all-time highs. Let him be "The Man."
- Use the heat--The Jets melted in the second half of last Sunday's loss in Miami, so keep the tempo high and make them cover the whole field.
- Rise to the challenge--With a win, the Jaguars will be tied with Indianapolis for first place in the AFC South. That has to be the special motivation for this game.
- Do it in the red zone--Don't be lured into a field-goal battle between Jets kicker John Hall and Jaguars rookie Hayden Epstein.
- Protect the quarterback--The Jets have a formidable pass-rush. Keeping Brunell healthy is a priority.
- Pour it on--The Jets are at a crossroads. They could fold if they fall behind.