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Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Upcoming schedule may allow Jags to re-emerge

By Paul Kuharsky
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

At 2-3 the Jacksonville Jaguars sit behind nine teams in the AFC, and are tied with San Diego.

Their defensive inconsistencies, inability to establish the run game week-to-week and offensive line injuries may be too much to overcome.

But for those looking for reason to hope things can get better, there is this: The Jaguars are the only team in the NFL to face four division leaders in the first six weeks who's combined record is 19-9.

They played tight games with Tennessee, Buffalo and Pittsburgh, but lost all three. Next up, a trip to Denver. If they can win that one to get to 3-3, they've potentially got a much better month ahead of them.

After a bye, Jacksonville should beat Cleveland at home and win at Cincinnati and at Detroit (those three teams are a combined 1-12). All of a sudden, if they are sitting 6-3, they would be right back in the mix for at least a Wild Card spot. (The Titans are likely to lose some games, but they've still got Kansas City, Detroit and Cleveland on their schedule.)

I've thought losing two starting guards for the year would be too much for the Jaguars to overcome. But looking at where they've been and where they are going, it's way too early to suggest they won't compete for a postseason berth.

If the glass is half full you could say that David Garrard has shown, at times, that he's capable of being the quarterback he was last year; that Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew are going to have some easier Sunday afternoons; that the defense probably has not played up to its talent yet.

The Jaguars finish the season at Baltimore on Dec. 28. There are too many variables to count between now and then. But on this October Wednesday, I'm thinking that could amount to a first-round playoff game.