It is the feature attraction of week 11; Indianapolis at Cincinnati, with the Colts' pursuit of an undefeated season on the line. So, for whom should Jaguars fans root?
That's a good question. Should Jags fans give up on catching the Colts in the AFC South title race? Should Jags fans focus on a wild-card berth and root for a Bengals loss so the Jags could draw even with a team against whom they hold the tie-breaker advantage?
The problem with doing that is that history tells us wild-card teams usually don't fare well in the playoffs. History tells us that if you want to have any chance of making it to the Super Bowl, you have to host at least one playoff game and the higher your seeding the better your chance of getting to the big game. After all, the Super Bowl is the goal, isn't it?
If the Colts win in Cincinnati, any chance of the Jaguars catching the Colts will be extinguished, barring injury to Peyton Manning. It's my opinion the Colts wouldn't blow a three-game lead with six games to play; not a 10-0 team. So, in my opinion, the issue will be rendered moot this Sunday. If the Colts win, the Jags are playing for a wild card.
That's why we should want the Bengals to win. It's too early to give up on the division title race; not before Thanksgiving, at least. Catching the Colts is a long shot, but the Jaguars have the schedule to do it and the Colts still have games left against Pittsburgh, San Diego and Seattle, in addition to the Dec. 11 showdown in Jacksonville.
Root for the Bengals. That's the answer and for reasons other than catching the Colts, too. If the Jaguars don't catch the Colts and have to settle for a wild-card spot, wouldn't you rather play in Cincinnati than in Pittsburgh in the first round of the playoffs?
This is obviously getting ahead of the story – sorry, coach – but if Indy and Denver finish in the top two spots in the AFC playoff seedings, it's likely the Jaguars would travel to either Cincinnati, Pittsburgh or New England for a wild-card round game. Give me Cincy. For that to occur, of course, the Bengals would have to win the AFC North.
The first order of business for the Jaguars is winning their own games. Yeah, it's a soft schedule, but when has a trip to Nashville ever produced an easy win, and should the Jaguars look forward to a December afternoon on the lakefront in Cleveland? Do you remember the Jaguars' last trip to Cleveland? Duck!
This is the shank of the season for the Jaguars. The next four games will tell us what this season is going to be. Three on the road, then the showdown game at home against the Colts; we'll know by then where this team falls among AFC playoff contenders.
Root for the Bengals this Sunday, root for the Steelers over the Colts two Mondays from now, and just win, baby, win. That's the formula for the Jaguars.