The Jaguars' playoff hopes received a double jolt over the holiday weekend, a loss to New England on Christmas Eve followed by the New York Jets' victory over Miami Christmas night on a late field goal. That left the Jaguars' playoff hopes on life support, since they'd need 2-13 Oakland, which is a 12-point underdog, to fly cross country and upset the Jets Sunday as well as Cincinnati losing to Pittsburgh and Tennessee losing to New England.
Del Rio conceded, "Our playoff hopes are slim." But Del Rio still found a carrot as the players returned to work after having two days off. "(We have) a chance to finish with a winning record for the third year in a row. It would be good to accomplish that," he said.
The Jaguars were 9-7 in 2004 and 12-4 last year and can finish 9-7 with a win in Kansas City. A loss would leave the 8-7 Jaguars at .500 at 8-8. The challenge for the Jaguars will be to play with intensity on the road even though they're likely to be eliminated regardless of how they play.
Del Rio expects them to be ready to play. "I feel confident our guys will continue to give the great effort they've given from the beginning of the season throughout training camp, throughout the preseason into the regular season through the ups and downs," he said. "I think the team has played hard and competed hard and I expect no different on Sunday."
The players seemed to echo that theme. Wide receiver Ernest Wilford, noting they can still have a winning record, said, "Our focus is on Kansas City. That's the most important thing."
The player who probably has the most at stake is quarterback David Garrard, who is still trying to convince the Jaguars that he can be the quarterback next season. Garrard watched the Jets beat Miami on TV and admitted he was disappointed in the result. "It makes you sick," he said.
But Garrard has put the weekend behind him and is zeroing in on the Chiefs "I'm just going to play ball," he said.
He needs to play better than he has the last two weeks with his five turnovers have played a major role in the two defeats that virtually knocked the Jaguars out of the playoff race.
SERIES HISTORY: 6th meeting. Jaguars lead the series, 4-1. The won the last meeting in 2004 by a 22-16 score when Cortez Hankton caught a 14-yard touchdown pass with 45 seconds remaining. The Chiefs only victory was on Dec. 30, 2001 when they snapped an 11-game losing streak in Florida.
Putting On A Positive Spin
Coach Jack Del Rio doesn't want to talk about the future until next week, but he gave a sneak preview of the positive spin he plans to put on this season.
When he was asked about the 6-7 record in the last 13 games, he said, "Well, I'm proud of the fact that we're 21-11 over the last 32 (regular season) games. That's pretty solid in this league."
He also said, "I think if you really look deep enough, you can find encouragement because there are a large number of things you can point to that are being done well, that you can build on as you go forward."
The reality is that Del Rio will be on the heat seat next year because he'll be in his fifth season looking for his first playoff victory.
Fortifying the Line
--The Jaguars have their starting offensive line now locked up for the future after left guard Vince Manuwai agreed to a long-term contract extension. Center Brad Meester, right guard Chris Naeole and right tackle Mo Williams have already gotten extensions and left tackle Khalif Barnes is only in his second year.
None of the players has made the Pro Bowl, but they play well together.
A Matter of Intent
--New England quarterback Tom Brady predicted Clint Ingram will be fined for a jarring hit on him when he was scrambling. Coach Jack Del Rio defended Ingram, saying that Brady didn't go into a feet first slide. Ingram said he wasn't trying to hurt Brady. Del Rio stirred up controversy when he said that when Brady decided not to slide, Ingram should have speared him.
By The Numbers:
276.2 -- The average number of yards the Jaguars are allowing per game, the second lowest in the league behind Kansas City.
They Said It:
"I've been in the coldest part of the country during the coldest time of the year so it's easy for me." --Running back Fred Taylor saying he can handle the cold weather in Kansas City after playing in Green Bay in December of 2004.