The Andrew Luck era Colts make their prime time debut on Thursday Night Football when they travel to Jacksonville to take on the 1-7 Jaguars. The Colts, meanwhile, stand at 5-3 and are right in the thick of the playoff race.
This will be the second time the Colts play the division rival Jaguars this year, the first coming at home in week three in what is still the only home loss for the team this year, and it came on an 80-yard touchdown pass in the final minute by Blaine Gabbert. The Colts are hoping this time the result is different, and here are three keys that would go a long way towards making that happen:
1. Offense continues to progress
Last week quarterback Andrew Luck had a spectacular performance in which he threw for 433 yards, a rookie record for a single game. A big reason for Luck's big performance, however, was the progression of his receivers. Not to take anything away from his great game, but Donnie Avery and T.Y. Hilton both topped 100 yards, joining Reggie Wayne in producing for the offense. Tight end Dwayne Allen had a good game as well. The progress that the offense has made this year has been evident. Even the run game has improved recently and has shown signs that it could keep it up (e stats were there versus Miami but the effectiveness was not, hopefully just an aberration). If the offense can keep up the level they have reached, and build on it, it will be a scary thing for the rest of the league.
2. Don't let big plays beat you
Remember week 3? That 80-yard touchdown pass from Blaine Gabbert to Cecil Shorts for the game winning touchdown in the final minute? Yeah, the Colts can't let that happen again. They can't let big plays beat them. The Jaguars will be without Maurice Jones-Drew, but the Colts still need to be careful. A few big plays and the game can be swayed greatly. The Colts will also be without corners Jerraud Powers and Vontae Davis, and quite possibly could be without several others such as Robert Mathis. Players are going to need to step up and fill in, and most importantly eliminate the big plays.
3. No let down
The Colts are on a three game winning streak, are coming off of a big game by Andrew Luck, just beat a playoff contender and are themselves a serious playoff contender. And they are playing a 1-7 team. Prime spot for a let down, especially traveling and playing on a short week. The Colts need to keep their focus and be ready for a tough game from the Jaguars, as the division rival always plays Indy tough. Barring a let down, the Colts should beat the Jaguars.
If the Colts keep up the progress and production they have had from their offense, eliminate the big plays on defense, and stay focused and avoid a letdown, the Colts should be able to beat the Jaguars, even though it is a short week and the Colts have to travel.