With a win, the Colts would get above the .500 mark for the first time in over 20 months. More importantly, they would enter their bye week with a record of 2-1.
But we're getting ahead of ourselves. There is a reason they play the games, after all. Who would have thunk that the Cardinals would beat the Patriots last week? There's a reason why the games are played.
And let's face it: the Colts aren't going to blow anyone away this year. Every win that the Colts get will be close, even against the 0-2 Jaguars.
So how can the Colts pull off the victory Sunday and enter their bye week 2-1? Here are three keys to a Colts' win on Sunday:
1. Keep Andrew Luck Upright
Last week, the most concerning part of the game was the fact that on nearly every pass play Andrew Luck was scrambling. And that's not an exaggeration. Yeah, perhaps Luck's best attribute is his mobility and pocket presence. It's certainly been his most useful one this year. But Luck running for his life can't continue. He's been great so far; imagine what he could do with time to throw. The offensive line has had to go up against two of the best pass rushers in the NFL in Julius Peppers (Bears) and Jared Allen (Vikings) and have had to deal with multiple injuries (starters Joe Reitz, Winston Justice and Samson Satele have all missed time), but they need to get better. If the Colts' offensive line can keep Andrew Luck standing upright on Sunday, the Colts' chances of winning improve infinitely.
2. Stop Maurice Jones-Drew
Running back Maurice Jones-Drew is pretty much all the Jaguars have on offense. Blaine Gabbert is a second year quarterback, who though he has improved this year, is still not very good at all. Rookie wideout Justin Blackmon has a lot of potential, but again he's only a rookie - and is dependent on Gabbert getting him the football. Jones-Drew, or MJD, is coming off a season where he won the rushing title. He is also coming off of an offseason (and most of preseason) holdout. He has had a field day pretty much every time he plays Indianapolis, and he will certainly get his chances Sunday. Again, he's all the Jaguars have. If they are going to win, MJD will need to have a big day. He's shown that he can against the Colts, but this is a new defense. Jones-Drew will be a big test for this Colts' 3-4 defense - and will be one of the keys to the game.
3. Special Teams
Special teams is often the most underrated aspect of football, but it is going to get mentioned here. While they play a big role in every game, this upcoming game it could be an added role. The Jaguars will punt often. The Colts probably will too. The Colts' punt coverage last week took a big step back from the Chicago game. They need to get back to the caliber of play they had in week one, and improve on that. Punter Pat McAfee has been tremendous this year as always, and I'm not worried about him. That said, he could be an important player on Sunday. Also, the Colts need to get better in the return game. T.Y. Hilton figures to return again, and he needs to give the Colts a spark there. Lastly, Adam Vinatieri needs to make his kicks. The Colts may need to settle for field goals at times, and when they do, they need the veteran Vinatieri to make them. I'm not worried about him either. He's still a very good kicker - we saw that full well last week.
There are more keys to the game as well, but if the Colts do these three things - keep Andrew Luck standing up, stop MJD, and play good special teams - they will win. And I'm picking the Colts to win this one, just as I did before the season started.
Believe it or not, with a win Sunday, the Colts would be 2-1 and above .500 for the first time in over 20 months, along with 1-0 in the division with a bye week coming up. Of course, that's all depending on a win.
And that's exactly what I'm predicting.
My pick: Colts 27, Jaguars 17