Jacksonville Jaguars vs Cleveland Browns NFL Preview

Thursday, December 31, 2009 by: Online Sportsbook

Sportsbook Online : Jacksonville Jaguars vs Cleveland Browns

The Jacksonville Jaguars' playoff chances were in their own hands just three weeks ago. Three disheartening losses later, the Jaguars need what amounts to a minor miracle to qualify for the postseason -- and winning their finale is suddenly far from a sure thing.

The Jaguars look to bounce back from a four-touchdown defeat and give themselves a glimmer of hope Sunday when they visit the resurgent Cleveland Browns, who try to close with their first four-game winning streak in more than 15 years.

Jacksonville (7-8) opened with consecutive losses and endured a 41-0 drubbing at Seattle three weeks later, but five wins in its next seven games left coach Jack Del Rio's team in the driver's seat for an AFC wild card berth thanks to a 6-2 conference record.

The Jaguars were in a precarious position after consecutive home losses to Miami and Indianapolis in early December, and after visiting New England last Sunday, now find themselves on the brink of elimination. The Patriots held a five-touchdown lead one play into the fourth quarter, and David Garrard's fourth-quarter run was the only scoring Jacksonville could muster in a 35-7 loss.

"Blew it," said running back Maurice Jones-Drew, who leads the AFC with 15 rushing touchdowns and needs one rushing or receiving to tie Fred Taylor's single-season record (17) set in 1998. "That's pretty much what it came down to. We didn't do what we needed to do to win games. It wasn't really what other teams did to us, we just beat ourselves."

Jacksonville isn't eliminated, but needs to beat the Browns (4-11) and have a bevy of other results go their way. Five teams are ahead of the Jaguars in the wild-card race, meaning they need at least four losses among games involving Baltimore, the New York Jets, Pittsburgh, Denver and Houston to get in.

"For all that to happen it would be crazy," said linebacker Daryl Smith, the team's leading tackler. "That's not our focus. Our focus is on getting a win at Cleveland. The opportunities were there. Three straight home games and we just let it slip away."
Beating the Browns seemed like the least of Jacksonville's concerns a few weeks ago, but it now looks like quite a challenge.
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