Archive for Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Jags need help aplenty to have life in January

December 27, 2006

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— In the final week of its season, Jacksonville's postseason ambitions boil down to placing faith in some unlikely places. And in one usual one.

For the Jaguars to play on into January, they need four teams to win Sunday. Oakland, Pittsburgh and New England are the improbable allies.

The fourth has proved the toughest for the Jags to figure: themselves.

"If we make it, we make it. If we don't, we can't blame anybody but ourselves," defensive tackle Marcus Stroud said.

Hoping to replicate last year's 5-1 finish that earned them a wild-card berth, the Jags (8-7) instead continued sliding sideways. They're 2-3 since Thanksgiving, with a regular-season finale at Kansas City coming.

The trip carries playoff implications because they'll kick the game off still in the postseason picture. But they surrendered control of their destiny with Sunday's 24-21 loss to New England, an outcome that delivered the Patriots their fourth AFC East division title in a row and put a New Year's wish list on the Jags' doorstep.

Jacksonville's loss gave wild-card control to the New York Jets (9-6), who kept it Monday night with a 13-10 victory at Miami. Denver (9-6) also controls its destiny.

"Until I'm told we're out, I'm going to keep hope alive," Jaguars Coach Jack Del Rio said. "There's an opportunity left next week in Kansas City."

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