The uproar over the Jaguars stadium lease issue pushed this Sunday's game in St. Louis out of the headlines this week. Well, it's time to change that.
It's time to get back to football in a big way because the Jaguars are about to take the first of 10 steps that will determine this team's ultimate fate this season. Are these 10 games that will lead them to the playoffs or 10 games that will produce major disappointment?
We know all about the strength of the Jaguars' remaining schedule. It is, frankly, not very strong. At 4-2 in an AFC playoff race that took steps toward bunching up last weekend, the Jaguars have a chance to get on a run and separate themselves from the other wild-card contenders.
That would give this team a solid sense of security; to know it's in the driver's seat for a wild-card berth. It would allow the Jaguars to pursue the Colts in the division title race without feeling pinched in the wild-card race.
The Rams are 41-10 at home since 1999. It is the league's best home record over that period. Even though the Rams are in a somewhat troubled state right now, their ability to win at home should provide the Jaguars with all of the respect they need to be motivated.
I see the next three games as a chance to gain breathing room. After Sunday's game, the Jaguars will host Houston and Baltimore. They are two games for which the Jaguars should have no difficulty finding energy.
This is a chance to get on a roll. With two wins behind them, coming off a bye week and November on the doorstep, this is the time for the Jaguars to turn it up a notch.
Here's 10 things the Jaguars have to do to beat the Rams.
- Focus—Forget about the team's problems with the city and rumors about moving to Los Angeles. This game is about now, not later.
- Win for Wayne Weaver—He's facing negotiations with the City that will directly impact the team's future in Jacksonville. Winning will only grow his support.
- Come out smokin'—The Rams are without their coach and possibly the major components in their feared passing game. Give them a reason to quit.
- Go ahead, score 30—The Jaguars offense needs to get that monkey off its back.
- Be professionals—Consistency is the trademark of true pros.
- Rush the passer—Whether it's Marc Bulger or Jamie Martin, that's the way you stop the Rams' passing game.
- Stop Steven Jackson—He's an up-and-coming running back who's rushed for 480 yards and six touchdowns this season. The Rams' running game is only 22nd in the league, but Jackson is sixth in the NFC.
- Win the punting game—The Rams are dead last in both facets of the punting game.
- Send a message—The Colts are in their bye week. Cut their lead to two games as they head into games against New England, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh.
- Avenge 1996—The Jaguars lost a game in St. Louis they should've won by four touchdowns. Don't let that happen again.