Other Issues to Deal With in Denver

As previously stated, the Jaguars sit with a 2-3 record and although Sunday's game isn't a must-win, there will be a pretty big hole the Jaguars have to dig out of if they don't find a victory. To leave Denver with a .500 record, the Jaguars will have to slow down a Denver offense that is ranked second overall, and scores nearly 10 more points per game than Jacksonville.

"A big opportunity, a big game on the road in Denver," said Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio. "It's a team that right now is operating very, very well, leading their division, one of the top-ranked teams in our conference in the AFC and one of the top-ranked offenses in the NFL overall."

The Jaguars are not only going to have to slow down Denver's explosive offense, but they will have to deal with the natural elements of playing in Denver, which includes altitude and cold weather. Although snow is not expected, the Denver temperatures will likely be more than 30 degrees cooler than what the Jaguars are used to in Jacksonville.

"I am not a big, cold guy," said Jaguars cornerback Rashean Mathis. "It is football, so anything is possible. Mother nature could cause anything. Weather change is always fun. To see how guys react to it at the beginning of the game but once you get between those white lines, it is nothing but football."

The Jaguars have had some recent success in cold weather. They became the first team in NFL history to defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers twice in the same season in Pittsburgh, both cold-weather games in which it was snowing. A few years prior, the team went into freezing temperatures in Green Bay and were victorious over Brett Favre and the Packers.

Denver's altitude poses a different problem for opposing teams because it's impossible to get used to in a short amount of time, and it is very difficult to breathe.

"It can (play a factor) if you don't go in prepared," said Jack Del Rio. "I think for us we understand it's all about hydration. A big pitch; we did it successfully when we went up there before and we're going to have to do it again. Guys need to hydrate. If you hydrate, it minimizes the impact. There's no way to acclimate unless you live there. You're not going to acclimate if you go in two days, three days, it's not enough time to acclimate, so you've got to be hydrated."

Del Rio's team knows that they must stay hydrated.

"It is tough," said Jaguars Pro Bowl running back Fred Taylor who racked up 84 yards on just 17 carries in the Jaguars 23-14 victory over the Broncos last year. "The air is thin so it is hard to breathe, extremely hard to breathe. But you try to hydrate prior to getting there, and that helps you a little bit. It is tough overall."

"We are definitely hydrating," Rashean Mathis said. "Last year, I really did not notice it too much but the hydration part could have been a big part of that. We are definitely hydrating a little more than usual so hopefully it will not be a factor for us."

The Jaguars must leave it all out on the field Sunday and that will be somewhat easier, considering they have a bye week following the game. The Jaguars haven't had a losing record at their bye week since 2003, the first year of the Del Rio era.

"You never want to lose, first and foremost, definitely not two weeks in a row," Taylor said. "We are not thinking like that. No way, no how should we be thinking in any pessimistic form. We are all optimistic. We have been playing a lot of close games so no need to panic."

If the Jaguars drop Sunday's game against Denver, one in which they are currently 3.5 point underdogs, Jaguars fans may not have to worry about their team playing any additional games in January.

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