A very familiar foe will be heading into Lucas Oil Stadium Sunday afternoon, when the Jacksonville Jaguars come to town to take on the Colts. Year in and year out this is a game that normally comes down to the wire, and the record of either team rarely matters. This year will be no exception, although both teams are well below the number of wins they'd like.
The Jaguars are 2-6 on the season, and had their bye week last week, making it two opponents in a row the Colts will face after an extra week of practice and rest. Certainly a disadvantage the Colts would rather not have to deal with this year. Rookie QB Blaine Gabbert has really struggled this season (you'll see the numbers later), leading to their lowly record. They did defeat Baltimore three weeks ago in a Monday night slugfest (12-7), but their only other win came all the way back in Week 1, and Gabbert was not the starter. The seat under Head Coach Jack Del Rio must be sizzling hot right now, although he's survived several seasons like this one before, and has the built-in "rookie QB" excuse.
With these two teams playing in the same division they've played each other quite a few times despite the Jaguars only being around since 1995. This will be the 21st meeting between the two teams, with the Colts holding a 15-5 edge, including four of the last five as well. The two teams did split a year ago, with both teams winning at home. In Week 4 Josh Scobee made a 59 yarder at the horn to win by 3, and the Colts defeated the Jaguars to stay alive in the Division race 34-24 in Week 15, thanks to a game-clinching onside kickoff return by Tyjuan Hagler.
What will the Colts have to do to (finally) get their first win of the season? Let's find out...
Adjusted Statistical Comparison for the Colts and Jaguars:
|Avg Start Pos||25.8||32||33.1||27||32.8||7||32.2||22|
|3 and Outs||5.26||29||3.38||22||5.76||32||5.48||3|
|Penalty Yds / Play||0.685||7||0.671||29||0.576||3||0.959||7|
|Net Punts Yds/Game||38.57||15||39.74||26||36.05||26||41.56||32|
Keys to the game:
- Finally another offense that is on par with the Colts. The Jaguars clearly have been having even more trouble sustaining drives, if you can believe it. For the Colts to win, they have to get the Jaguars off the field, like every other team has done to them this season.
- You'll also notice they've actually gotten really good field position, yet still couldn't move the ball. With the offenses not being able to move the ball effectively, starting position will play a pivotal role. Just flipping the field will be a win for both teams.
- I'm sure we'll see a healthy dose of Maurice Jones-Drew, but the Colts bottled him up pretty well in Week 15 last year. I'll conveniently forget Jones-Drew was a little banged up to make me a little more confident it can happen again. The Jaguars running game hasn't been nearly as good as the Colts running game this season, but I'm guessing the Colts will key on MJD and force Gabbert to beat them.
- The only unit worth a damn will be the rebuilt Jacksonville Defense, and we'll see an even more familiar face, LB Clint Session, lining up. They spent a lot of money in the offseason, and as you can see by their ranking of 6th overall, they've done a great job so far.
- How in the world are the Colts going to move the ball on Sunday? Can't methodically move the ball, as the Jaguars are great in all the drive-related stats. Can't hit big plays, as they are second in the league at Yards per Play. Believe it or not, this is the best defense the Colts have faced this season, and will only face a better one when they travel to Baltimore. Oh boy.
- The good news is if the Colts somehow find the Red Zone, there's a good chance they'll score a touchdown, as the Jaguars are second to last in Red Zone Efficiency defense. How in the world that's possible with how good they've been otherwise I don't know. Along with this, however, is the Colts must score 7 when they get in there. Can't go wasting opportunities.
- We also should see another monster game from 2011 Colts MVP Pat McAfee, as the Jaguars have the worst Net Punt Return Average in the league. Punters have been booming kicks on them all year, so naturally the best punter in the league should do the same. By the way, the Colts only have 38 punt return yards on the season, lowest in the league. Yikes.
The Winning Stats Predictor has the game at 18-14 Jaguars, but I think that's entirely too high scoring. This is going to be one of those games that is going to be punts back and forth, and whichever team can actually put it in the end zone will win. I really, really want to pick the Colts to win this week, but I don't see how they get into the end zone, barring the Defense really setting them up well. They haven't had a lead since they blew the big one to the Chiefs, and until they can even get the lead on someone, I can't pick them to win. I'm looking forward to the 60 yarder Scobee will hit at the end of the first half, as well as the other four FGs he'll put through the uprights. Colts will go into their bye week squandering probably their best chance to win a game the rest of way.
Jaguars 15, Colts 7