Sweet Home... Jacksonville

Pop quiz. Try to guess which NFL team allowed the fewest points per game at home in 2006. It's easy, right?

Chicago? Nope. They allowed 16 pts/game at home.

If not Chicago, then it has to be Baltimore, right? Close, but no cigar. Although the Ravens did allow an impressive 12 pts/game at home.

Believe it or not, it was the Jacksonville Jaguars. The same team that had all those guys on injured reserve in 2006. No Mike Peterson, no Reggie Hayward, no Marcus Stroud or Donovin Darius for an extended period of time. There's no way it can be Jacksonville, right?

Cue the incorrect game show buzzer sounds now.

The Jacksonville Jaguars allowed just 11 pts/game during their 2006 home campaign, even with all those injuries. With mostly a patchwork defense, the Jaguars were able to shut out two teams (and almost accumulated a third consecutive shutout vs. Tennessee had the Titans not scored a garbage time TD with about 2 minutes to go). The most points allowed at home came in the finale against New England (24). The other games? How about 17 vs. Dallas, 0 vs. Pittsburgh, 0 vs. NY Jets, 7 vs. Tennessee, 13 vs. Houston, 10 vs. NY Giants, and 17 vs. Indianapolis.

What is even more impressive about the home dominance in 2006 is that five of the eight teams the Jaguars had on their home schedule went on to the playoffs. Those same eight teams collectively had a 36-28 road record (four finished with a winning road record). They also collectively averaged 23 pts/game on the road, which proves that there were very few stiffs. Even though the Jaguars' only two defeats at home were to the Texans and Patriots, both losses were by just three points, and it can be argued that the Jaguars defense kept them in the game in both instances.

So what can we expect from the Jaguars at home in 2007? Well, how about the possibility to exert more home domination? On paper, the schedule doesn't look as sexy as it did in 2006, being that the teams coming in to Jacksonville Municipal Stadium (Houston, Indianapolis, Tennessee, Oakland, San Diego, Atlanta, Carolina, and Buffalo) collectively had a 2006 road record of 27-37 (only San Diego had a winning road record in 2006). The 2007 home opponents for the Jaguars averaged just 18 pts/game on the road in 2006, and there are only two playoff teams from '06 (San Diego and Indianapolis) visiting Jacksonville.

So obviously the Jaguars home schedule appears to be easier in '07, but this is the NFL. Anything can happen from week-to-week in the ebb and flow of the grueling 17-week regular season. Injuries happen, teams lose turnover battles, kickers miss field goals, and special teams break down from time to time. It's what makes the NFL great: every team can compete.

However... How can you not be excited about the possibility of the Jaguars playing a 3rd-place schedule at home with a healthy defense, a rejuvenated special teams corps, and a new offensive system that the guys seem to be buying into?

"Let's go 8-0."

That should be the battle cry for the Jaguars and their fans on their home turf in 2007.

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