Four games into the season, the Jaguars are two games behind the Indianapolis Colts. What chance do the Jags have of catching the Colts and contending for the AFC South title? Let's do a little schedule comparison.
Over the next six games, the Jaguars play the Texans twice and the Titans once. Four of the Jaguars' next six games are at home.
The Colts play three at home and three away, and all three of those road games are tough ones: at Denver, at New England and at Dallas. The Colts also host the Redskins, and we all know how the Redskins can run the ball and how the Colts can't stop the run.
If the Jaguars are going to get back into the division title race, this is the time to do it. The early-season schedule clearly favored the Colts and they made good use of their advantage to build a healthy lead. After this Sunday's action, the schedule turns decidedly in the Jaguars' favor.
That won't mean a thing, however, if the Jaguars don't beat the Jets. This is a must-win game for the Jaguars to have any realistic chance of catching the Colts in the division title race.
The Colts host the Titans this Sunday, and that means the Jaguars almost certainly have to beat the Jets to avoid falling three games behind. I think we would all agree that falling three games behind would leave the Jaguars to focus on the wild-card race.
In other words, it's time for the Jaguars to get on a roll. The final six games of the season include four road games, three of which could include cold weather, and the final two home games are against the Colts and Patriots.
If the goal is to win the division, now is the time for the Jaguars to make their move.
Here are 10 things the Jaguars have to do to beat the Jets.
- Restore identity—Defense has been the Jaguars' calling card under Jack Del Rio. Last week's performance in Washington must be immediately reversed.
- Protect the ball—The Jets are struggling on defense. Don't let them off the hook by turning the ball over. Make them stop you.
- Rush the passer—They didn't do that against the Redskins and the result was 329 yards passing by Mark Brunell.
- Give it to Fred—Taylor needs to have a breakout game. The Jets are 25th against the run.
- Step up—That's what the Jaguars may need their reserve personnel to do, since Del Rio is likely to rest key players who need time to fully recover from sprains and pulls.
- Be special—The Jaguars special teams have been unsatisfactory the last two weeks. They are a most important aspect of the game for a ball-control, field-position team.
- Let it all hang out—Because there will be plenty of time to recover in the bye week.
- Look at playoff tape—He doesn't have the same personnel, but Eric Mangini is likely to use the same defensive scheme this Sunday that he used to hold the Jaguars to three points in last season's playoff win over the Jaguars.
- Deny big plays—The Jaguars didn't do that in Washington.
- Get off the field on third down—They didn't do that either.