Although the official hoopla of the NFL playoffs doesn't begin until January, the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Houston Texans will be taking part in what amounts to a playoff game this Sunday at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium.
The Jaguars and Texans have played in a few meaningful games over the years, but most of the meaning has been for Jacksonville, and the spoiler role has been embraced by the Texans. Back in 2004, the Texans helped knock the Jaguars out of the playoffs as they visited Jacksonville and soundly defeated the Jaguars, 21-0.
This time around, it will be equally as important for both franchises.
"All games moving forward are must-win," quarterback David Garrard said of the final stretch of the Jaguars season."
After dropping last Sunday's game to the San Francisco 49ers, 20-3, the Jaguars sit with a 6-5 record, owners of the last wild-card playoff spot. They rallied to get over .500 with four consecutive wins and they must get that particular "mojo" back if they're going to be a factor in January.
"We just came off a good stretch of wins," Garrard said of his team's recent performance. "We had a setback. We still hold our destiny in our hands. That gives us confidence and makes us feel good."
As for the Texans, they are in just as desperate of a situation as they sit with a 5-6 record, losers of three straight.
"Well obviously we need a win, you know, so I'm not going to sit here and sugarcoat that but we practiced good and just need to stay positive, stay strong, stay together and go find a way to win a game," Texans head coach Gary Kubiak said.
Kubiak was concerned about his team's mental state following the game.
"I'm concerned about everybody. A lot of people in this building are working very hard, coaches, people in this building that deserve some success and those players are a big part of that. They're the ones that have to go find it for everybody so obviously they're very, very down today. Everybody is very down today. But you can't feel sorry for yourself for very long. You got to go get ready to play."
It is believed that a division foe may be just what the doctor ordered for Houston to get back into the swing of things and recover their winning form of last month.
"I think regardless of who we're playing, we've got to find another level of focus I guess is the way I would explain it, because obviously the one we've had the past few weeks hasn't gotten us a ‘W' so regardless if it's Jacksonville or who we're playing, as I said yesterday, we've got to find a way to win our sixth game," Kubiak said to reporters. "We've got to stay focused on who we're playing, not look at the big picture—not look at the last five. We've got to stay focused on the next game and trying to find a way to fix our issues."
A win on Sunday by either the Jaguars or Texans guarantees absolutely nothing in terms of a playoff spot, but for the loser, it spells the end of their season and with it, potential jobs.
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