Manning Is a Dirty Word in Jacksonville

When the NFL realigned in 2002, both the Jaguars and the Indianapolis Colts wanted to be in the AFC East. The Colts were already in the five-team AFC East but when it was cut to four teams, they were bounced out under the last in, first out rule. The four former AFL East teams -- Patriots, Bills, Jets and Dolphins -- stayed together.

The Jaguars wanted to be in the same division with the Dolphins because they figured that would be a natural rivalry.

But the Dolphins were tied to the original AFC East so the Jaguars, like the Colts, were left homeless.

After the AFC North and West were put together, that left two other teams homeless -- the expansion Texans and the Titans. So they were thrown into a four-team AFC South Division.

Getting thrown into a division with the Colts was a stroke of misfortune for the Jaguars. They found themselves in a division with the Colts just when Peyton Manning was hitting his prime.

Not surprisingly, the Colts have dominated the series.

Since they began playing twice a year, the Jaguars have won just four of the games while the Colts have won 12, including five of the last six. The Colts also won the first two meetings before they were in the same division and have a 14-4 overall margin. The teams have never met in the playoffs.

All this may not be a good omen for the Jaguars because they play the Colts Sunday with their season possibly hanging in the balance. Coming off a pair of 25-point losses to San Diego and Philadelphia dropped them to 1-2. They know they can't afford to drop to 1-3.

"It's a huge game for us from the standpoint it's a swing game," coach Jack Del Rio said. "It basically has the effect of two games (because they are) division opponents. If we win the game, we even our record with theirs and we get basically a half-game advantage on them. Have it not go your way and then you're looking at being back 2 1-2. So it is big swing game from that standpoint."

Del Rio didn't say it, but his job could be on the line.

If the Jaguars lose this game, they will have a difficult time trying to make the playoffs.

And Del Rio, in his eighth season, has just one playoff game. Failing to make the playoffs could doom Del Rio.

It also could end David Garrard's tenure in Jacksonville because the Jaguars could decide to go in a different direction.

The stakes couldn't be higher for the Jaguars.

SERIES HISTORY: 19th regular season meeting. Colts lead series, 14-4, and have won five of the last six and eight of the last 10. The Colts won both games last year by a total of six points. The first one was a 14-12 defensive battle and the second one was a 35-31 shootout as Manning threw for four touchdown passes.

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