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Traveling better than playing

Join Senior Editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.

Emil from Tallahassee, FL:
As Jaguar fans, what, in your opinion makes the most sense to root for? An Indianapolis victory to push the Broncos back and give us more leverage for the wild card, or a Broncos victory to get 16-0 out of the question and increase the likelihood we'll see Jim Sorgi over Peyton Manning? I hate selling our team short, but I have to say I would feel a lot more comfortable not having to face Manning.

Vic: First of all, it wouldn't be Sorgi because he was put on the injured reserve list. The new backup is Curtis Painter. Root for an Indianapolis win for two reasons: 1.) The Broncos are in the wild-card race, too, and I see no reason to concede one of the two spots to them. 2.) A Colts win clinches homefield advantage throughout the playoffs and sets an NFL record at 22 consecutive regular-season wins. Hey, with homefield and the win streak in the bag, I have to believe that would buy some time on the bench for Manning next Thursday. A Colts loss to the Broncos could leave the Colts a win shy of clinching homefield and that would guarantee Manning would play full-time against the Jags.

Tonga from Inglewood, CA:
Who do you have winning the Heisman this Saturday?

Vic: From what I understand, Mark Ingram and Toby Gerhart are considered to be the front-runners. I wouldn't have a problem with either player winning the Heisman. I think they're both deserving. Gerhart dominated in the Pac-10, which was a very strong conference this year, and Ingram toughed it out on a sore hip and dominated Florida in the SEC title game.

Kelton from Boise, ID:
What do you think of the BCS matching Boise State and TCU in the Fiesta Bowl? It should be a good game but it feels like the big boys were afraid of going 0-2 to non-BCS teams.

Vic: I don't know what the reasons are, though I'm sure it probably has something do with how they "travel." After all, the whole purpose of the bowl games is to identify teams that travel best, not play best. The bowl system is a disgrace and the NCAA continues to allow it.

Jeremy from Navarre, FL:
I love your column but I'm very disappointed with your loss of objectivity regarding the Jags. You posted "time for respect is at hand" regarding the Jags in your power rankings. It has been obvious the Jags have won games on many fortunate circumstances (the other teams are doing more to lose a game than we are to win) and have had a favorable schedule, which has left us in the playoff hunt. As a fan I am enjoying this but I am by no means sold on us being good enough to have earned or deserve any respect from anyone. What am I missing?

Vic: That really bothers you, huh? Well, let's see if I can explain this terrible loss of objectivity. I said "time for respect is at hand" because in the next three games the Jaguars will face the Dolphins, Colts and Patriots, which would represent the toughest 1-2-3 punch on the schedule. In other words, this is the part of the schedule that would earn the Jaguars respect, depending on how they perform. What am I missing? Is that such an outlandish statement that you should insult my professional integrity? I really need a break.

Bill from Dunnellon, FL:
The Jags and the Bucs were almost identical this offseason. Both teams removed a ton of veterans from their roster, drafted well and decided to rebuild. The Bucs have a new coach, but he was hired from within. So why are the Jags a wild-card contender and the Bucs 1-11?

Vic: There are a lot of reasons but I would consider the main reason to be that the Jaguars have a more stable situation at quarterback.

Trevor from Burlington, Ontario:
This game against Miami is obviously huge and a win would put the Jags in the driver's seat, however, say Miami wins and finishes with the same record as the Jags and one of the other teams in the wild-card race that they have not beaten. The three-team tiebreaker is determined by conference record, correct?

Vic: If the three teams are all from different divisions and a head-to-head sweep does not apply, the next tiebreaker is "best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference."

Julia from Jacksonville:
"Will we break 50,000 Sunday? Yes." But how many of those will be wearing Dolphins colors? Are we likely to see another game like that Steelers game several years ago? If so, does that really count toward the Jaguars future hear in Jacksonville?

Vic: There will be a lot of Dolphins fans at the stadium on Sunday – they still have fans in Jacksonville from the days before the Jaguars came into existence – but it's not going to be a Steeler-like invasion, obviously, because the game will be far from sold out. As far as future ticket sales, I think it's too late to gain any kind of an indication in what's left of this season. We're going to find out what the future will hold when the team begins its season-ticket push for 2010. If the Steelers can finish second in the AFC North, and the Jaguars finish second in the South, then the Steelers will play here next year and the Steelers have always been good for selling tickets. The Eagles play here next year, too, and they're also a good "travel" team.

Mark from Houston, TX:
Wouldn't losses vs. Miami and Indy not only be a kill shot at us making the playoffs but a big blow to the Jaguars staying in Jacksonville?

Vic: The Jaguars aren't going to move out of town this winter if the team doesn't make the playoffs, but I don't think it's an exaggeration to say this Sunday's game is a must win, in terms of making it into the playoffs. To show you how big this game is, the Jaguars could win their last three and still not make the playoffs if they lose to the Dolphins because they could get caught in a head-to-head tiebreaker with the Dolphins, yet, they could lose two of their last three and still make the playoffs should they beat the Dolphins, because they'd own the head-to-head tiebreaker. This one is huge. We don't have to look ahead to next Thursday. We don't have to look any farther ahead than this Sunday.

Ryan from Kokomo, IN:
You often talk about building from within and having success in the draft. With Manning, Addai, Wayne, Clark, Saturday, Sanders, Freeney, Mathis and Bethea, is there any team out there that has done a better job of building from within? Is Bill Polian the best GM and is the Colts run of seven straight seasons of 12 wins more a result of Peyton Manning's greatness, or a combination of his greatness and continuity through the draft/free agent signings?

Vic: It's everything and anything you want it to be. The Colts are deserving of every accolade you wish to bestow upon them.

Brian from Little Falls, NJ:
I am looking at the games scheduled for week 16 and, call me crazy, but I think if we win this weekend against the Dolphins, there's a great chance we see the Jaguars play the Pats on "Sunday Night Football." Am I absolutely insane or is it pretty realistic?

Vic: I would never call you crazy and I absolutely don't think you're insane, just a little too dramatic in trying to make your point. Is there a chance? Yeah, there's a chance. We'll know next Tuesday if the Jags at Pats will be moved to Sunday night because the teams have to be given 12 days notice. There's another game on the schedule that day that's a candidate for being moved to Sunday night: Baltimore at Pittsburgh. CBS might have that game in the protected category; there's really no way of knowing. I gotta tell ya, Jags at Pats at one o'clock would be just fine with me.

Jerry from Morgan, TX:
Is every team that doesn't have a dominating year too old? The Patriots aren't running away with the title, they must have gotten old. The Giants having a down year? Too old. The Steelers haven't beaten every team they've faced, so they're too old. Roethlisberger, Mendenhall, Miller, Holmes, Colon, Woodley, Timmons; these guys need wheelchairs. Troy Polamalu is 28 years old; put that guy in a home. I guess there's no such thing as parity, only 29 teams that don't win the championship because they're too old and one team that is in their prime. When explained in your terms, it all seems so clear.

Vic: I don't think I said any of that, but check the ages of Casey Hampton, James Farrior, Aaron Smith, Chris Hoke, Travis Kirschke, Tyrone Carter, Deshea Townsend, Hines Ward, Charlie Batch and some other players on the Steelers roster you've failed to mention and tell me what you think. They don't have a starter on their defensive line that's under 30 years of age and the top two replacements are 33 and 34 respectively. Why didn't you include their names? Look at the Patriots' roster and check the ages. Is there any chance Randy Moss has lost a step? Is Tom Brady a better quarterback because he's older and had knee reconstruction? Is Fred more durable because he's a year older? I really don't understand why people like you fight this age thing. Is it because you're so fond of the names you know you can't let go? The Jaguars are the perfect example of what youth does for a team. All of a sudden, the injury report is shorter and the team appears to have more energy and stamina late in the season. Last winter, when they released Fred and proclaimed that they were going into a youth movement, there was a firestorm of fan dissent, but I said then that it was the right thing to do because the Jaguars' arrow would immediately start pointing upward. So was I right? How do you like this youth movement now? Turning over a team's roster is not an easy thing to do and it's inevitable that it'll have to be done every so many years. The Steelers were able to milk another title out of their roster last year but now they've hit the wall and they know it. The Patriots are trying to milk one more title out of their roster but it appears they've hit the wall, too. That's life in the NFL.

Lawrence from Beech Grove, VA:
"A few stiffs?" Could Tebow be one of them?

Vic: I wouldn't worry about that.

J.J. from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
I just voted for Vic Ketchman for ND head coach. Will you take the job?

Vic: Yes, and we will win.

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