What I think they are thinking in the headquarters of the four AFC South Tuesday evening…
We don’t care a bit about the grief we may be getting for winning so ugly in St. Louis. But we know where we stand in this clump of 7-7 teams, and that’s at the bottom. If we don’t want to get more and hear all about being underachievers we need to beat the Dolphins in Miami Sunday. Way back when we lost our opener to the Jets, we had to answer questions about the F word. That’s right, they called us a finesse team. Fifteen weeks later, we’re facing another physical franchise. If we can’t show we can stand toe-to-toe with tough and match it, we’ll deserve to hear all about our failures.
What mystery. What intrigue. People are fascinated by the potential for 16-0, sure, but let’s be honest. They also want to know if they should be playing Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne or Dallas Clark in their fantasy semifinal or final. Sorry folks, we don’t even remotely feel your pain. Company line is what we do here. Jim Caldwell will tell us what to do and we’ll do it. And guess what. If the frontliners who do play build an early lead, it’s not inconceivable we get both things done this Sunday -- resting and winning. If not, well 14-1 isn't too bad, huh?
We’ve made it hard on ourselves, so now the hard road runs through New England and if we leave with a loss we’re pretty much finished. We haven't ever won in New England and we’ve beaten the Patriots only one time in eight regular season and postseason chances -- a 1998 wild card game at our place. They’ve been a good passing offense, we’ve been a bad pass defense. We know that’s got to change for us to win, and we’ll change it. We just hope we’re not in a situation where we have to count on Reggie Nelson on Randy Moss.
Short week, but we get the stage on Christmas night at our place. The Chargers are good, but they can’t be real fired up about making the trip or playing on what we hope is a frosty night. We’ve lost Keith Bulluck and will be playing two inexperienced outside linebackers, but perhaps we will go to nickel early and often and see what Vincent Fuller can do against Antonio Gates. Chris Hope’s a guy we should hear from and look to in Bulluck’s absence. Surely we’ll all spend some time talking about how no one expects us to win and try to use that for an extra jolt of energy before enjoying a weekend off after a win gets us to 8-7.