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Jacksonville Jaguars Media Wrap-Up: They like us, they really, really like us!

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We've got a potentially exciting day ahead of us with the Pro Bowl announcement at about 4:00 EST, so to prepare us for that event, let's take a look at how the Jacksonville Jaguars are looking in the national press.  Of course, I want you to bear in mind that there's no reason to get all excited about what the Jaguars could do, because we haven't done anything YET.  

Yes, the national media is finally recognizing that the Jaguars are a serious team and should be a force to be reckoned with in the playoffs, but we've not done anything to earn respect.  That doesn't happen till we win in Pittsburgh or Cleveland in the first round, New England in the Second, Indianapolis in the AFC Championship, and then the NFC team in the Super Bowl.  Win those four games and you get all the respect you can handle.  

But don't let all the positive press go to your head, the media is just looking for their "non-Patriot, non-Colt, non-Cowboys team of the week to hype up.  They'll bite us hard if we don't do something with it.

Also, I'll be Live Blogging the Pro Bowl Announcement fiasco.  I know it's the middle of a work day, but come on by and join in!

That said, here's what the real journalists have to say...

Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports is treating us as the "real deal" in his article of the same name:

Once the clock had run out, Jacksonville had what it needed: Proof. Not only is this a playoff-caliber team, but Jacksonville has shown that it is capable of going into a hostile environment in frigid climate and physically beating a team that purports to be master of the grind game.

Master of the Grind Game, I like that.  Not quite as catchy as the "Grindhouse Offense" that I like to call it, but good nonetheless.  It's official, Charles Robinson gets it.

Also via Yahoo sports, James Black says we're "Winners":

The Jacksonville Jaguars might have accomplished a lot on both a team and individual front Sunday. The Jaguars (10-4) finally came through in a "big game," warming up to the idea of playing in the snow and cold while running over the Pittsburgh Steelers 29-22. Fred Taylor - continuing to make his case for the Pro Bowl on the field a week after casting 10 ballots for himself - sliced up Pittsburgh's No. 1 defense to the tune of 147 yards and one touchdown. In the past month, Jacksonville has beaten Pittsburgh and San Diego - one of which they'll most likely face in the wild-card round.

I hope it doesn't come down to Fred's Ten Votes to get him to the Pro Bowl...

Don Banks of SI.com:

For a team I accused two weeks ago of never winning a truly big game, that was a pretty large showing by the warm-weather Jaguars in snowy Pittsburgh, where the Steelers had been unbeaten this season at Heinz Field.

Jacksonville really has never played like a soft, Sun Belt team at any point under head coach Jack Del Rio. But it was impressive the way quarterback David Garrard threw the ball in the elements, with three touchdowns and just one interception. At 10-4, the Jags are a headed for being a heck of a strong No. 5 seed in the AFC.

Speaking of Sports Illustrated, their latest issue has a big article about Fred Taylor and the Jaguars.  I can't find the text of it online, but it's the Issue with Kevin Everett on the cover.  It's a VERY good read.

Speaking of SI, here's Peter King and his "Fine Fifteen" :

6. Jacksonville (10-4). "We play in the heat,'' David Garrard said via cell phone last night, "but we're built for the cold.'' Sunday's 29-22 win at Pittsburgh was played in a 25-degree wind chill, the first time all season the Jags have played with the game time temperature colder than 62 degrees. I watched it, and Garrard's right. This is a power team.

Of course, he ranks us behind San Diego, even though we've got a better record, had a bigger win, and BEAT them a few weeks ago, but whatever.  I

Len Pasquarelli of The Worldwide Leader :

This is a Florida-based team that, oddly enough, is constructed for the kind of bad weather that descended upon Heinz Field on Sunday afternoon when an incredibly quick-moving whiteout, fueled by gusting 40 mph winds that whipped around the stadium, dumped snow on the already-treacherous surface only 15 minutes before kickoff. These are the kind of conditions teams understand they might confront in the postseason.

That's why the Jags, despite falling short in several so-called "statement games" in the past, managed to send a message Sunday. They possess the level of talent and the physical mind-set to make things miserable for playoff opponents.

"This is a message to the rest of the league that, 'Hey, we're for real,'" quarterback David Garrard said. "You don't want to get too high over this kind of stuff, but you want to have some swagger going into the playoffs ... and this is the kind of game that gives it to you."

More locally, Michael Wright of the Florida Teams Union:

On his third carry of an eight-play scoring drive, Taylor glided into the end zone untouched for the game-winning touchdown from 12 yards.

Taylor's 25 carries were his heaviest workload since 2005.

"We needed it, and we got it," Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio said of the game-winning TD. "We saw the way Fred was going and wanted to make sure we fed him the football."

Taylor is only the third player to rush for more than 100 yards against Pittsburgh in the Steelers' last 64 games. The Jaguars finished the game with 224 rushing yards (Maurice Drew contributed 69). Pittsburgh hadn't allowed more than 200 yards on the ground since a Nov. 26, 2000 game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Interestingly, two weeks prior to that game in 2000, Taylor ran for 234 yards against the Steelers at Three Rivers Stadium.

"I don't know what's going on," Taylor joked about his success against Pittsburgh. "The league will probably test me in the morning."

Vic Carucci of NFL.com keeps it short and sweet:

    This could be the scariest team in the AFC playoffs.

Pete Prisco of CBS Sportsline gets two quotes:

Fred Taylor is on fire. He ran for a hard 145 yards against a Steelers defense that doesn't give up much on the ground. The Jaguars dominated both lines of scrimmage.
and
One more victory and they're in the playoffs. It should come this week against the Raiders. This will be a dangerous team come playoff time.

Actually, he gets three quotes, read this and understand why:

   

The Jacksonville Jaguars, according to many, are the team that nobody wants to play, a group built in the mold of its coach: A tough, hard-nosed group that plays with a swagger.

With New England seemingly having the Lombardi Trophy already in hand -- isn't that what most think? -- everybody is looking for possible pitfalls for the Patriots, some team that can knock them down.

Lately, the Jaguars are receiving much of that attention. The reasons some think they can match them are obvious. They are big and physical. And they can run the ball. Plus, they have a quarterback in David Garrard who is not only taking care of the ball but also making plays down the field.

Are the 10-4 Jaguars turning the Big Four elite into the Big Five?

Fox Sports Power Rankings:

5. Somehow, some way, Fred Taylor, who has 10,000 career yards rushing in 11 NFL campaigns with the Jaguars -- has never made a Pro Bowl. That might change this season, as Taylor's putting together one huge performance after another. Sunday's effort in Pittsburgh was arguably his best performance of the year. The veteran leader carried the ball 25 times for 147 yards, guiding the Jaguars to an enormous 29-22 win in Pittsburgh. The Jags outgained the AFC North-leading Steelers, 421-217, while putting together 224 rushing yards on the league's top-ranked defense. Pittsburgh running back Willie Parker was impressed with the Jacksonville team effort, "The Jaguars are the Pittsburgh of the South," Parker told reporters. "The weather was kind of bad, and they came in like they've been playing in it for a while. We've got to use our weather to our advantage." Now 10-4, the Jags are officially legitimate contenders in the AFC.

CBS Inside Slant breaks down the playoff scenarios for us:

A victory over the Raiders would clinch a wild-card playoff spot and the fifth seed in the playoffs for the Jaguars.

They would then play at the fourth seed in their first-round playoff game.

Three teams -- San Diego, Pittsburgh and Cleveland -- could still wind up in that slot.

New England and Indianapolis have clinched the top two seeds and San Diego has clinched the AFC West title, but could be either the third or fourth seed.

If Pittsburgh, San Diego and the Jaguars all win their last two games, San Diego will jump to the third seed and the Jaguars will go back to Pittsburgh, where they just posted a 29-22 victory.

If the Steelers lose one of their last two to St. Louis or Baltimore and Cleveland wins its last two against Cincinnati and San Francisco and San Diego wins its last two, the Browns would win the AFC North title and the Jaguars would go to Cleveland.

If San Diego loses one of its last two to Denver or Oakland, the Chargers would likely fall to the fourth seed and the Jaguars would go there.

The Jaguars can still clinch a playoff spot even if they lose to Oakland by winning in Houston in the final regular-season game of the season. They also clinch Sunday if they tie or if Tennessee loses or ties or Cleveland loses.

The Jaguars could still miss the playoffs if they lose their last two and Tennessee wins its last two.

The Jaguars are shooting for a playoff berth for the second time in the last three years. They last made the playoffs in 2005, when they lost a first-round game at New England, 28-3. Their last playoff victory was the 62-7 rout of Miami in 1999.

If the Jaguars win their first-round playoff game and the other wild-card team loses, the Jaguars would go to New England for their second-round game.

So there you go, Pro Bowl announcement is coming up shortly.  I might even liveblog it, just for fun.  In fact, I think I will.

-Chris