They’re rested. Now, it’s time to see if they’re revived.
That’s the main storyline coming off the 2012 bye week for the Jaguars, who struggled before the bye but who still have a chance to fight their way into the playoff chase.
Really? Playoffs? Yes, because although the Jaguars are 1-4 with three one-sided home losses, the postseason picture in the AFC is the definition of wide open, with only two teams – the Houston Texans and Baltimore Ravens – over .500.
That’s right. Everyone else is .500 or worse.
That’s the mathematical storyline as the Jaguars prepare to play the Raiders in Oakland Sunday, but the realistic angle is this team needs to play better. The Jaguars didn’t play nearly well enough often enough before the bye, with the result a start that few around the organization expected.
The Jaguars are getting closer to full health. Linebacker
After a difficult early season schedule that included four teams .500 or better, the Raiders on paper appear a more favorable matchup, but at 1-4, the Jaguars’ concern isn’t playoff appearances, or even matchups. They need to show improvement.
With improvement, victories and all that comes with them will take care of themselves.
The Raiders’ storyline entering Sunday is strikingly similar to that of the Jaguars. Like the Jaguars, the Raiders are struggling with one victory. Like the Jaguars, the Raiders see this game as one they should win, and believe it can be used as a way to regain momentum after a difficult start. The Raiders played one of their worst games of the season three weeks ago, losing 37-6 to Denver, but responded this past weekend after a bye with a 23-20 loss to the unbeaten Atlanta Falcons. The Raiders had 474 yards offense in that game, and while running back Darren McFadden struggled at times, quarterback Carson Palmer overcame an interception that was returned for a late touchdown to lead a game-tying drive in the final minutes. The Raiders entered the season believing they were much improved, and showed last week they’re capable of playing at a high level when they’re playing well. Now, their task is to show consistency.
The game at O.co Coliseum in Oakland, Cal., will be broadcast regionally on CBS and locally on WETV CBS 47 (Channel 6) with Ian Eagle on play-by-play and Dan Fouts on analysis.
Early matchup to watch
Jaguars middle linebacker
Players to watch
What to watch
* Smith returned to practice Monday, and is expected to work more Wednesday and Thursday. He has been out since the beginning of the season with a groin injury and a decision on his status is expected later in the week.
* Robinson, after missing the Bears game October 7, remains in the concussion program. He was scheduled to undergo a concussion test Tuesday. If Robinson can’t play, Shorts will start in his place.
* Defensive end
* Defensive tackle
* With safety