In an apparent attempt to fire up his team, Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio referred to the Titans as "Goliath."
Jack Del Rio didn't give his team much of a chance against unbeaten Tennessee (9-0) on Sunday. Maybe he was offering up his best Vince Dooley or Lou Holtz impression, or maybe he was trying a new tactic to motivate players reeling from what has been a disappointing season.
"Goliath is coming to town," Del Rio said. "We're going to say some prayers, see if we can't find a few nice-sized pebbles and load up our slingshots."
He didn't stop there, either.
"Best team in the league is coming in, No. 1 seed in the AFC. Undefeated. Tough to score on. Got a veteran quarterback playing like an MVP candidate," he said. "I think the TV people moved it to 4 o'clock so they could watch the Titans improve to 10-0. Best team in the league."
Del Rio might as well have compared the Titans to the '72 Dolphins or the '85 Bears. He wasn't even this complimentary before the Jaguars faced the 16-0 New England Patriots in the playoffs last season or before lining up against any of Tony Dungy's unbeaten Indianapolis teams in previous years.
It was a strange move for a former NFL linebacker who has shown unwavering confidence in the Jaguars (4-5) through all their ups and downs this season, and has steadfastly preached the "any given Sunday" cliche about matchups in this league.
Not this time.
If the Jaguars follow Del Rio's advice, they shouldn't even try to run the ball against Albert Haynesworth, Tony Brown, Jevon Kearse and Kyle Vanden Bosch.
"It'll be tough to do," Del Rio said. "They're awfully good. Nobody's been able to do it."
How about scoring?
"They're stifling," he said. "Nobody can score on them."
Stopping quarterback Kerry Collins and running backs Chris Johnson and LenDale White could be equally challenging.
"They're running the ball all over people. Their quarterback is playing like an MVP," Del Rio said. "There are a lot of good things going on there, so we're just going to get geared up and do the best we can."
Jacksonville's players were slightly more optimistic, as were oddsmakers who made the home team a three-point underdog.
"We think we can beat anybody, if we all show up, if we go through the week correctly like we should, practice like we should and study like we should then we always feel like we can beat anybody," quarterback David Garrard said. "But everybody has to show up. We are not going to be able to just run on the field and think that we are going to come out with a win. We have to be better than we were the first week, much better than we were the first week."
The Jaguars ran for a season-low 33 yards and allowed seven sacks in a 17-10 loss at Tennessee in the season opener. Already playing without center Brad Meester, they lost both starting guards to season-ending injuries during the game.
Nonetheless, Jacksonville still had a chance. The Jags trailed 10-7 in the fourth quarter and knocked Vince Young out of the game. The Titans faced third-and-15 at their 30, but Collins came off the bench and dumped a short pass to Bo Scaife that went for 44 yards.
White capped the drive with a 1-yard TD run, and Haynesworth later sealed the victory with his second sack.
The Jaguars haven't really gotten back on track since. They snapped a two-game skid last week at winless Detroit, ending a tumultuous week in which Del Rio questioned team chemistry, shuffled locker assignments in hopes of shaking things up and then sent leading tackler and team captain Mike Peterson home for insubordination.
"A lot of people jumped off the bandwagon," running back Maurice Jones-Drew said. "We're going to have to try to fill that thing back up."
Tennessee's bandwagon might have some empty seats, even with Del Rio onboard. Although the Titans are unbeaten, they're not getting the same kind of attention the Colts and Patriots received during their recent unbeaten runs.
"At the end of the day, it's about us and what we do," Titans linebacker Keith Bulluck said. "It's not about what anyone else thinks or how anyone's portraying what's going on."
The Titans certainly don't agree with Del Rio's characterization of the matchup.
"They really need this game," White said. "We're trying to take the hope away from them; we're trying to kill all life. So whatever we have to do to go out and get a victory, we're going to do it and hopefully we're 10-0.
"Don't look at (Jacksonville's) record, don't look at what they've done as bad things because they can come out Sunday and do whatever they want."
If Del Rio finds the right pebbles.