JACKSONVILLE – The stakes are clear and high.
And the way Jaguars Head Coach Doug Pederson sees it, motivation shouldn’t be a problem for the Jaguars on Sunday.
“We are playing for our lives,” he said.
The Jaguars (5-8), winners of three of their last five games, will host the Dallas Cowboys (10-3) at TIAA Bank Field on Sunday at 1 p.m. in a game with playoff implications for both teams.
“We’re playing to stay alive,” Pederson said.
The Jaguars trail the AFC South-leading Tennessee Titans (7-6) by two games with four remaining. Because the Jaguars beat the Titans last Sunday in Nashville, they can win the division if the teams tie and the Jaguars beat the Titans in the regular season finale in Jacksonville on January 8.
The Jaguars will also visit the New York Jets (7-6) and Houston Texans (1-11-1) before that Titans game, with Sunday’s game being the first of a major final month.
“This is going to be a great atmosphere,” Pederson said. “I can’t stress it: If you don’t get up for these games against good opponents, you might have to think about doing something else as coaches and players. .
“I really don’t think it’s going to take much to keep the energy up in this one.”
The Jaguars have beaten the AFC division leaders in two of their last three games. They beat the AFC North-leading Baltimore Ravens, 28-27, three weeks ago and then lost to the Lions in Detroit before last Sunday’s win over Tennessee.
“They’re focused, they’ve been very alert, they’ve been energetic in practice,” Pederson said of the players’ preparation this week. “The biggest thing this time of year is the health of the team and everyone getting the most out of it. That’s my focus is making sure everyone is ready to go that way.”