Friday, December 11, 2009
Final Word: AFC South
By Paul Kuharsky ESPN.com
Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 14:
The Jaguars won’t come out and say so, and a high-pressure game isn’t new to them, but Sunday against Miami is a must win if they’re making the playoffs. If Jacksonville beats Miami and can win at Cleveland on the final Sunday of the season, losses to Indianapolis and at New England in between may be survivable. That would put them at 9-7 with an 8-4 AFC record. Maurice Jones-Drew has slowed a bit but did well when the Jags needed him to milk the clock late last week. He’ll need to be in playoff form for Jacksonville to win a game crucial to their playoff hopes. Tony Sparano hasn’t lost in December yet.
Matthew Emmons/US PresswirePeyton Manning and the Colts aren't as concerned about a perfect season as they are about securing home-field advantage through the playoffs.
A perfect record is not the Colts’ goal, but clinching the best possible playoff situation is priority one. A win over Denver at Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday does that, and securing home-field advantage through the playoffs with three games remaining in the regular season would be a remarkable feat. It would also mean the Colts set a new record with 22 consecutive regular-season wins and post their fourth 13-win season since Peyton Manning joined the team in 1998. From 1953-97, the Colts won 13 games in a season once -- in 1968 when they went 13-1 before losing to the Jets in Super Bowl III.
Weekly Chris Johnson update: With four games left, the Titans running back needs to average 123 yards a game to reach 2,000 yards rushing and needs 149 yards a game to get to Eric Dickerson’s record of 2,105. Greetings, St. Louis run defense, which is yielding 146 yards a game. Looks like a perfect marriage to put us in position for another update next week, don’t you think?
Matt Schaub will play against Seattle with his left, non-throwing shoulder strapped up. The wrong kind of hit from the Seahawks defense could mean we see Rex Grossman. The Texans have been good at winning late in the season after playoff dreams dwindle. Do they keep that up and does it help Gary Kubiak’s job security? At the season’s start, how many people had these two teams -- both 5-7 -- as locks for the playoffs? I thought Seattle would bounce back and make it, wasn’t as sure about Houston.
Jacksonville plays who the league tells it to, when the league tells it to. But the Jaguars have built their record with seven wins over teams that don’t have a single winning record and currently have a .345 winning percentage (skewed by St. Louis). Meanwhile, they’ve lost to the only two winning teams they’ve faced -- Indianapolis and Arizona. The five teams that have beaten the Jags have a .583 winning percentage (skewed by Indy). Now Jacksonville can determine if the 6-6 Dolphins are a winning or losing team come Sunday night.