Welcome folks to the Pre Game Post! I know you're as excited for this as I am, but we gotta get a few issues out of the way so we know what the hell we're watching for as we take on the dreaded Buffalo Bills.
Before we start, let me remind you about my good friend Brian who writes over at Buffalo Rumblings. He'll be doing his own little liveblog over at at his neck of the woods, so I encourage you to stop by and give that a looksie.
That said, let's see what we've got on our plate.
Who to Watch: On offense, I'm gonna err on the side of the obvious and say our boy David Garrard. The Bills are going to stack the line in order to stop our running game, so it'll be up to David to make good reads, check down to the open receiver, and avoid interceptions. Just in case he needs a reminder of why he should keep the ball in the right hands, take a look over at what Len Pasquarelli (Insider, sorry):
Jacksonville officials were proactive in seeking the extension in 2005, when they granted Garrard and Irby permission to seek potential trade partners, and the sense is they will be proactive again in upgrading the contract. To not address the contract, especially if Garrard continues to perform at such an efficient level, would eventually get sticky. Because it's doubtful Garrard, if given a second shot at unrestricted free agency in the spring of 2009, would pass on such an opportunity for the second time.
Irby has great faith -- and justifiably so, given the fair manner in which the Jaguars have dealt with Garrard -- that the franchise will accommodate his client before he reaches his 2008 lame-duck season. Of course, the club could take the approach that it wants to see Garrard play at this level for a second straight season before committing to him.
David, I'm talking to you directly now. Tony Romo and Marc Bulger got paid. Huge. 60 plus million dollars worth. You can get that if you keep doing exactly what you've done so far this season, provided you stay healthy.
Who to Watch, special bonus edition: On defense, it's gonna be all about the linebackers. I'm gonna toss the ball in Justin Durrant's court and expect him to be the next star on our defense. Sure, he'll only be playing as we shift our linebackers to replace Mike Peterson, but that doesn't mean he's not a potential stud. I'm putting my faith in you Justin, don't let me down.
What's at Stake:
Reading that chart (care of Football Outsiders). If you read it, you'll learn that according to the Quantitative Astrophysics behind the numbers, the Jaguars have a 12.4% chance of being the AFC South Division winner, with a total playoff probability of 89.1%. A win today greatly improves the chance of both and sets up a very critical game against the Colts next week. I'd like to call attention to the 9.3% chance of being the number 2 seed in the playoffs. Just in case we needed another goal going down the stretch, there it is.
This is a conference game against a team that would like to make a run at a wild card. This is the sort of game that hurt the Jaguars in the past where we looked a bit too far ahead and dropped a critical game. This is a "statement game" in that a dominating performance sets us up for "The Most Important Game of the Season, part two" next week.
For Buffalo, a loss at Jacksonville begins the inevitable process of eliminating the Bills from the hunt. They are already barely in the chase, but a conference loss will change their focus to next season.
Why We Will Win: The Jaguars will win this game because they have a far more consistent offense and a defense that is completely capable of stopping the very limited Buffalo attack.
I think it's that simple. We can out run them, we can pass well enough to move the chains, and I'd like to think that we can cover one wide receiver well enough to fluster an inconstant quarterback.
LB Mike Peterson (hand): Out
TE Greg Estandia (foot): Probable
CB Rashean Mathis (groin): Questionable
WR John Broussard (ankle): Doubtful
RB Fred Taylor (thigh): Probable
WR Reggie Williams (back): Questionable
RB Marshawn Lynch (ankle): Out
CB Jerametrius Butler (calf): Questionable
Friday Status Designations:
Out - Will not play
Doubtful - At least 75% chance will not play
Questionable - 50% chance will not play
Probably - A virtual certainty will play
Florida Times Union says that Reggie should play. They also say that Mathis won't miss the game:
"It's a conference game, so it's big," Mathis said. "I haven't missed one yet, and I don't plan on missing one. It's looking good, a lot better."
Rapid Fire Thoughts:
- I'd really like to see the Jaguars offense run at their maximum level. What I mean by that is the total utilization of the "Grindhouse" offense. And what I mean by that is the long sustained drive using power running and precision passing in order to consume clock and put 7 points on the board. More important than that, I'm looking to see the Jaguars offense score on every possession. It's playoff time, teams that deserve to be there don't punt. It's all about imposing your will and establishing dominance early. Jacksonville wins the games when we have long drives in the first quarter, let's keep it that way.
- Special teams. Don't mess up and make one play. All we need is one big play, whether it's Jones-Drew on the kickoff, or Northcutt on the Punt, one good return, preferably for a touch down, especially after a 3 and out, could be just what we need to break the will of the Bills.
- Defense is simple, cover Lee Evans and attack Losman.
- Win baby, Win. That's all it'll take.