On Sunday, Oct. 16 the Buccaneers beat the New Orleans Saints 26-20 to bring themselves to 4-2 and a tie for the NFC South lead. They have not won a game since that day and limp into Jacksonville on a six game losing streak that has, for all intents and purposes, eliminated them from playoff contention.
Their problems have only been exacerbated by a shoulder injury for starting quarterback Josh Freeman that withheld him from last week's game against the Panthers and has him questionable for Sunday's game against the Jaguars. That's horrible news for a team who's passing offense is essentially the only major statistical category of the team that isn't in the bottom half of the NFL.
Perhaps, then, it says even more about the state of the Jaguars, when many oddsmakers and experts are still picking the Buccaneers to win.
The Jaguars enter week 14 on a three game losing streak and are very much in contention for a top five pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. Their, once strong, defense has tailed off in recent weeks as an unbelievable amount of injuries have torn the team down to essentially nothing. This morning the Jaguars announced Aaron Kampman would move to injured reserve, representing the 25th player to do so this season for the team.
But as defensive end Jeremy Mincey told the media, there is still an incentive for the Jaguars to win football games:
"All I want for Christmas is a victory, especially these last two homes games for our crowd. I think, at this point in the season, we just really need to win for our community and give the community hope. Make them Jaguars believers."
In each of the last two seasons the Jaguars collapsed to finish the season and cost themselves shots at the playoffs with season-ending losing streaks. For that reason, Mincey is right. If the Jaguars were to finish another season with a terrible December showing, the hope for the future would remain bleak. Particularly their week 17 game against the Colts who are, frankly, terrible.
(On a side note: Kudos to the city of Jacksonville for somehow buying up enough tickets to get this game between a 3-9 team and a 4-8 on TV. It's even more impressive considering it's the Buccaneers.)