by Tom Weppel
After their loss last week to the Giants, the Jags are 6-5, yet still at the top of the tame AFC South. This week they head to Nashville to take on the Tennessee Titans, whom they lost to badly earlier in the season, 30-3.
While the Jaguars are only a game above .500, they luckily are still in decent shape for the postseason. The Colts have had a rough year so far, due to injuries to a number of their receivers, backs, and defensive players. The Texans and Titans have also had their own problems, which in turn has kept all four teams within a game or two of each other.
In the meantime, it is still quite awkward in trying to identify just what this Jaguar team is all about. There are times in which they have played good, solid football. There are also times in which they have been very inconsistent, making mistakes which in turn cost them victories. The Jaguars actually are last in the League in turnover ratio (-13), which has been a huge factor in their record not being better.
When you look at the Titans, you can see they have been struggling, especially at the QB position. Seems there is a good chance they will get Kerry Collins back this week. If not, they are relegated to play rookie (and Jacksonville native) Rusty Smith, who threw three picks last week against the Texans. Last week against Houston, Chris Johnson only rushed for FIVE yards! Their offense ranks 30th overall in the NFL, and they rank 31st overall in passing. Those are paltry numbers, to say the least. It makes you wonder exactly what they will have in store for Jack Del Rio and the Jags this weekend.
In their 30-3 loss to the Titans seven weeks ago, the Jags turned the ball over four times, including three INT’s. Jacksonville has lost Tennessee has beaten the Jags six of the last eight times they have played, including three of the last four they have played in Nashville. Obviously, it won’t be easy for Jacksonville to pull this one off.
In his weekly press conference, Del Rio seemed confident his boys are coming along, to the point where he feels they can make a decent push for the last part of this season. He also carries a strong desire to win the turnover battle in each and every game, which makes total sense. If the Jags do that, and they make the right plays at crucial times, it is quite possible they can steal their seventh win of the season. We shall see…
NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE
Heading into the matchups for this weekend, there are a lot of teams who still have a shot at getting into the playoffs. The NFL is priding itself on this fact, especially this late into the season.
The other side to that coin is in looking at the standings in a couple of Divisions, namely the AFC West and NFC West, where the teams are simply very mediocre at best. In fact, all four teams in the NFC West are below .500 going into this weekend.
While it keeps all teams in the hunt, it also means interest on a national scale tends to slip off a bit. Fans simply don’t get too interested in .500 teams.
In the meantime, you have teams like the Jets and Patriots, who have carved out pretty good seasons so far. Both sit at 9-2, and will play each other on Monday night in Foxboro. It should make for an interesting scene, with the winner having a clear advantage for the playoffs.
Last week we got to see Titans CB Cortland Finnegan go at it with Texans WR Andre Johnson. Their altercation got very, nasty! Players ripped off helmets and threw punches on the field, before being separated and then thrown out of the game.
Surprisingly, the NFL only fined each player $25,000 each for their actions. I was shocked, actually! I thought Commissioner Roger Goddell would’ve suspended the players, maybe even for their rematch coming up on December 19th.
While competition and battle are certainly paramount on the field during games, the NFL does NOT want to see that kind of stuff happening all the time. We’ll see if there is any more of it in the near future.
This weekend the top two teams in the country, Auburn and Oregon, will be playing with plenty on the line. The Tigers will face South Carolina in the SEC Championship, being held in Atlanta, while the Ducks travel to Oregon State to play the game they consider the ‘Civil War’.
For Auburn, they are happy knowing Cam Newton has been cleared of wrongdoing on the short-term. He is main key for the Tigers offense in winning games. Auburn defeated the Gamecocks earlier this season, 35-27, and it will be very tough for Carolina Head Coach Steve Spurrier to pull off an upset.
On the West Coast, the Oregon Ducks will face their in-state rival, the Oregon St. Beavers in what they call the ‘Civil War’. The Beavers lost last week to Stanford, 38-0, so you would think the Ducks will have no problem with this one.
Should both teams win, they will both go on to the BCS Championship game, played this year in Arizona.
We will also see some other conference championship games. Florida State will battle Virginia Tech for the ACC, while Nebraska and Oklahoma will go at it for the Big 12 title. The winners of each game will also claim automatic spots in BCS Bowl games. And finally USC and UCLA will battle in Los Angeles. It will be the first time in quite a while where neither team is ranked in the Top 25.
SPORTS w/The Jock 11-2-11
by Tom Weppel