2010 Colts Game Preview: Indianapolis Colts at Jacksonville Jaguars

You can throw out the record books when the Colts and Jaguars get together, which they will do this Sunday afternoon in Jacksonville.  Since the whooping Peyton Manning and the Colts put on the Jaguars on Monday night back in 2007, all 5 games have been within 7 points or less.  The Colts are 4-1 in those games, but each one could have easily gone the other way.  The Jaguars always seem to play their best games when Indianapolis comes to town.

Last season, the Colts won 2 hard fought games:  14-12 in Week 1, and 35-31 on a Thursday night in Week 15.  How close was that Week 15 game?  An NFL Record 9 lead changes throughout the game.  They also won in Jacksonville a week after beating Denver.  Hmmm...

The Jaguars come off a giant let-down of a game last weekend, getting smacked around by the Eagles 28-3.  Stud RB Maurice Jones-Drew was held to 88 yards on 22 carries, and only 1 receiving yard on 2 catches.  I'm going to go out on a limb and say he's going to have more receiving yards this week.  David Garrard also struggled mightily, barely getting in positive numbers in ANPY/A, 0.25 / Attempt, worst in the league last week.  It was the 2nd week in a row Garrard was pretty bad, as he got yanked, then put back into duty after an injury to Luke McCown, against the Chargers.

So how do the two teams match-up?  Let's take a look...

Here's the statistical matchup (non-adjusted):

Statistic Colts Jaguars
Offense Rank Defense Rank Offense Rank Defense Rank
DSR 77.8% 3 71.7% 22 67.4% 18 76.6% 29
ANPY/A 9.101 1 6.210 22 3.461 29 8.720 31
Turnovers 0.67 3 2.00 11 2.33 21 1.67 17
Yds/Drive 38.69 5 34.27 26 26.03 23 36.76 29
ToP/Drive 2:57.0 8 2:36.0 11 2:54.0 9 2:39.0 17
Yds/Play 6.069 6 5.953 28 4.316 31 6.892 31
First Downs/Drive 2.09 6 1.79 20 1.69 11 1.85 22
3rd/4th Down 39.5% 14 37.2% 15 37.0% 18 38.2% 17
Avg Start Pos 28.7 20 26.4 6 30.6 14 26.9 9
3 and Outs 2.67 5 3.67 13 2.00 4 2.33 26
RZ Eff 82.9% 2 41.1% 2 50.0% 23 72.7% 23
Plays/Drive 6.375 6 5.758 22 6.031 9 5.333 12
Penalty Yds / Play 0.760 12 0.711 24 0.762 13 1.017 10
RB Success 41.9% 21 55.4% 32 45.8% 13 40.3% 11
Yds/Carry 3.25 26 4.99 29 3.68 21 4.55 24
Net Punts Yds/Game 35.69 26 42.18 25 42.83 6 33.38 1
Overall 4 19 19 26

Some keys from the stats:

  • I don't know about you, but every time the Colts play the Jaguars, I'm infuriated at the fact that the Jaguars convert 3rd down after 3rd down by 2 or less yards.  It's like death by paper cuts.  Despite being pretty poor at Drive Success Rate (DSR), they are pretty good at the other drive-related stats: Time of Possession / Drive, First Downs / Drive, and Plays / Drive.  The quickest way to get Jacksonville out of the game is to get them off the field on 3rd Down.  Oh, and watch for the 6 yard hitch patterns on the outside on 3rd and 5.  I call it the Tim Jennings Special.
  • Watch the Red Zone Efficiency again this week.  The Jaguars haven't been too good so far this young season on either side of the ball, while the Colts have been fantastic.
  • The best stat for the Jaguars this year?  Net Punting Average.  Their special teams look to be pretty good.  Let's hope that get a lot more practice covering punts.
  • These numbers don't take into account schedule played, which according to the Winning Stats, the Jaguars have played the toughest schedule so far this year (Colts are #17).  When you adjust for opponents, the Jaguars become much better statistically (Non-Adj: 27th Overall, Adj: 13th).

Other things to watch:

  • Injuries on the Offensive Line.  Jeff Linkenbach didn't play too bad last week, but that might be slightly skewed because of just how bad both Mike Pollak and Jamie Richard played.  It'd be really nice if Charlie Johnson came back this week healthy.  He practiced fully on Wednesday, so that's a great sign.
  • I think Jack Del Rio is coaching for his job on Sunday.  Another blow out loss will mean his team has pretty clearly quit on him, and he'll need to be replaced immediately.  Maybe the Colts will let them hang around just enough to let Del Rio keep his job, at least until they come to Indianapolis in Week 15.
  • The Jaguars defense is very familiar with Manning, intercepting at least 1 pass in 6 of the last 7 meetings between the teams.  He's been extremely careful with the ball so far this season, but there always seems to be a bad bounce that gets intercepted against Jacksonville.  I'm betting we'll see one this week too.
  • Both Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis were bottled up pretty well last Sunday against the Broncos.  I haven't had an opportunity to re-watch the game yet, so I'm not sure whether the Tackles were just really good, or whether they had lots of help.  More on that Friday.  Getting to Garrard on those 3rd down and mediums will be vital to the Colts success.

Prediction:

On paper, this doesn't look like much of a game, as the Colts have significantly outperformed the Jaguars so far in 2010.  However, familiarity almost always wins out in this series, so I just can't see a blowout.  Factor in that I think the Jaguars do care about their coach, so they'll be playing hard to save his job.  I know most teams like to wait until the Bye week if they are going to fire their coach in-season, but that is still 5 weeks away, way too long in a league where every game matters.  I don't see Del Rio making it much past next Tuesday, as the Colts will win handily, but certainly not easily.

Colts 38, Jaguars 28

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