Troubled Jags

Detroit, MI - This stretch of games was supposed to help the Jacksonville Jaguars gear up for a postseason run. Instead, they're falling further out of the AFC playoff picture.

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After losing to a previously winless team their last time out, the Jaguars look to avoid a similar fate Sunday when they visit the 0-8 Detroit Lions, who might start recently signed Daunte Culpepper at quarterback.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made the Jaguars –6.5 point spread favorites (View NFL Football odds) for Sunday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 64% of bets for this game have been placed on the Jaguars –6.5 (View NFL Football bet percentages).

Jacksonville (3-5) advanced to the AFC divisional playoff round last season, but its postseason hopes this season are looking bleak. The Jaguars trail undefeated Tennessee by five games in the AFC South, and have failed to take advantage of a seemingly easy portion of their schedule.

Following a 23-17 loss to struggling Cleveland on Oct. 26, Jacksonville fell to Cincinnati 21-19 last Sunday as the Bengals won their first game of the year.

"We find ourselves in a tough spot,'' Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio said. "This is not what we had envisioned, but it is what we have earned. What is most important to me is how we respond.

"First and foremost, we have to stick together. There's not going to be anybody from the outside coming in and giving us a hand.''

Jacksonville hopes it can turn a corner Sunday against the league's only winless team. The Lions are off to their worst start since opening a franchise-worst 0-12 in 2001, and have lost 15 of 16 overall.

Detroit appeared to be in good position for its first victory Sunday in Chicago, but the Bears overcame a 23-13 halftime deficit and won 27-23.

It was another heartbreaking loss for the Lions, as they've had opportunities to win their last four games after getting blown out in their first four. The four most recent defeats have come by an average of 5.3 points after they dropped their first four by an average of 27.0.

"If we execute better and do those things we have to do then things will work out for us," Detroit coach Rod Marinelli said.

The Jaguars have also been involved in close contests, as they're the only team in the league that has had all of its games decided by seven points or fewer this season.

Last Sunday, David Garrard directed an 11-play, 73-yard drive that was capped by Maurice Jones-Drew's 1-yard run with 1:17 to go, bringing Jacksonville within two points. Garrard's pass to Jerry Porter on the 2-point conversion try fell incomplete, though.

"I know we're a good team, so to be behind the 8-ball like this is unbelievable,'' Jaguars defensive lineman Reggie Hayward said. "Getting upset won't stop the pain.''

Jacksonville again failed to get its ground game going Sunday, as Jones-Drew was limited to 33 yards on 10 carries. The running game has been key for the Jaguars, as they're averaging 176.7 rushing yards in their wins, but 70.0 running yards in their losses.

"We're not functioning with a high level of confidence,'' Del Rio said. "We're missing a spark, and we're trying to find it. It hasn't been good enough.''

Jacksonville hopes it can solve its rushing problems Sunday. The Lions are second-worst in the league in run defense, allowing 161.8 yards per game, and allowed Chicago to rush for 117 yards during the second half last week.

Dan Orlovsky threw for 292 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions against Chicago, but also sprained his right thumb, giving Culpepper a chance to make his first start of the season.

The Lions signed the formerly retired Culpepper to a two-year deal Tuesday, and the former Pro Bowler practiced Wednesday while Orlovsky watched with a soft cast protecting his thumb. Marinelli said he wanted to keep the Jaguars in the dark about who might be starting.

"I don't see any reason to help our opponents by giving them one quarterback to plan for,'' Marinelli said. "Everyone will find out on Sunday.''

Culpepper had career highs in passing yards (4,717), touchdowns (39) and passer rating (110.9) in 2004 with Minnesota, but a knee injury the following year ended his career with the Vikings. The 6-foot-4, 265-pound Culpepper started 10 games over the 2006-07 seasons with Oakland and Miami, throwing seven touchdowns and eight interceptions.

Culpepper threw for 235 yards, one touchdown and one interception in his only career start against Jacksonville on Nov. 28, 2004, a 27-16 Minnesota victory.

In the last meeting between the Lions and Jaguars on Nov. 14, 2004, Garrard made his second career start and threw for 198 yards and two touchdowns in Jacksonville's 23-17 win.

Top Betting Trends
All games in this series since 1992
JACKSONVILLE is 2-1 against the spread versus DETROIT since 1992
JACKSONVILLE is 2-1 straight up against DETROIT since 1992
2 of 3 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL since 1992
Games over the last 3 seasons
There were no past matchups in this series during this time period.
All games played at DETROIT since 1992
DETROIT is 1-0 against the spread versus JACKSONVILLE since 1992
DETROIT is 1-0 straight up against JACKSONVILLE since 1992
1 of 1 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL since 1992
Key Player Injuries
[OT] Richard Collier reserve/non-football injury list - Upper Body - 09/02/08
[OG] Vince Manuwai IR - Knee - 09/08/08
[OL] Chris Naeole missed last game %27?%27 - Hand - 10/26/08
[OG] Maurice Williams IR - Bicep - 09/08/08
[CB] Scott Starks IR - Knee - 09/24/08
[WR] Mike Walker missed last game, "?" - Knee - 10/26/08
[S] Dwight Smith missed last game, "?" - Foot - 10/26/08
[OT] Damion Cook injured last game %27?%27 - Knee - 10/26/08
[FB] Jon Bradley IR - Shoulder - 08/20/08
[FS] Gerald Alexander IR - Neck - 10/13/08
[TE] Casey Fitzsimmons injured last game %27?%27 - Head - 10/26/08
[QB] Jon Kitna IR - Back - 10/14/08
[DE] Corey Smith missed last game, "?" - Hamstring - 10/26/08
[WR] Aveion Cason IR - Ankle - 08/31/08
[TE] Dan Campbell IR - Hamstring - 09/09/08
[CB] Stanley Wilson IR - Achilles - 09/04/08
[FB] Jerome Felton is downgraded to expected to miss - Foot - 10/29/08

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Posted: 11/05/08 3:37 PM ET

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