Will the Jags Be Motivated?

Can the Jaguars stay motivated to play a cold weather game at the end of the season with little at stake? That's the big question the Jaguars face as they go to Cleveland to finish the season Sunday.

They still have a glimmer of a playoff chance, but they'd need four of the 8-7 teams to lose for them to get in with a victory over Cleveland.

That's football's version of drawing an inside straight.

So, in effect, all the Jaguars have to play for is to avoid finishing the season with four consecutive losses.

And they have to do it in cold weather.

"It's cold (in Cleveland)," Browns coach Eric Mangini said in a conference call with Jacksonville writers.

How cold?

"Cold. Cold. You saw that Pittsburgh game (on TV). It's not quite that cold, but you're going to need a warm jacket."

Mangini may have been playing mind games because while it'll be cold by Jacksonville standards, it won't be that cold by Cleveland standards. The forecast for Sunday is in the mid 20s with snow showers.

The Jaguars don't play many cold weather games. They've only played nine games in temperatures 28 and under and they're 2-7 in those games.

The Jaguars, though, insist they'll be motivated.

"Who wouldn't be motivated?" running back Maurice Jones-Drew said. "We're getting the opportunity to play football. This is what you grow up wanting to do. I used to watch the games when Oakland would be playing Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh or whatever they were doing in the playoffs. These are the games you sit home and watch, not the sunny, nice games. The nasty weather, two smashmouth teams, that's what the game is going to be about. It's exciting."

Quarterback David Garrard said the veterans will show the way for the young players.

"I think with the guys we have on this team, we really have to be able to show that we're coming in with our focus because young guys and rookies are going to play off us and if they see us not trying as hard or watching as much film, then they're going to start taking time off. They can't take time off because they don't know very much. I think we've got a good group of vets on the team that is staying focused,'' he said.

SERIES HISTORY: 12th regular-season meeting. Jaguars lead series 8-3. The Browns won the last meeting 23-17 in Jacksonville last year. The Jaguars have won all five previous games between the two clubs in Cleveland, including the infamous bottle game in 2001 when the fans showered the field with beer bottles to protest a controversial decision.

Jags Illustrated Top Stories