The Colts enter the final weekend of the Regular Season, and thanks to their Playoff seeding still being up for grabs, there's no doubt they'll be playing to win Sunday afternoon against the Jaguars. We all know by now the Colts are still alive for the #2 or #3 seed, but need some help from both the Ravens and Bills to move up the ladder, as well as beating Jacksonville. Not impossible, but it'll be an uphill climb.
The last time we saw these two teams play it was pretty lopsided, a 37-3 Colts win in Jacksonville back in September. The Colts could pretty much do whatever they wanted in throttling the Jaguars, but if you've seen them play over the past six weeks or so, you'll see a much different Jaguars team. They've won four of the seven games since their Bye week, and as you look back at their schedule, it was incredibly front-loaded, playing five of eight games against teams that have already clinched playoff spots. To the credit of these players and coaching staff, this team never gave up on the season, and have looked semi-competent as of late. If you think this is going to be a cakewalk for the Colts, I think you'll be in for a surprise.
The biggest difference from the game in September is the change at Quarterback, as Blaine Gabbert hasn't started a game since that Colts game, where he looked completely loss, and Chad Henne has been the guy for most of the season. There also hasn't been much Maurice Jones-Drew as of late, and it really hasn't hurt the Jaguar running game, so I don't expect him to return next season. It may be signaling the end of his Colts-killing days, not a day too soon. I'm ready to move on from him playing out of his mind to help beat the Colts.
The Jaguars have actually beaten the Colts the last two years in Indianapolis, a 17-3 win in 2011, and 22-17 last year, thanks to the 80 yard Cecil Shorts touchdown late. Again I'll say it...this game is by no means a gimme. Overall the Colts have a 17-8 record against the Jaguars, but they've split the last 8 meetings.
How do these two teams stack up against each other? Let's find out:
Statistical Comparison between the Colts and Jaguars:
|Orange Zone Eff||54.9%||17||49.9%||13||36.8%||32||66.2%||32|
|Avg Start Pos||30.2||13||27.6||9||32.4||5||28.8||12|
|3 and Outs||3.20||5||3.48||21||4.59||29||3.99||10|
|Penalty Yds / Play||0.630||4||0.907||7||0.775||12||0.596||32|
Keys to the Game:
- The Colts Defense has been superb the last two weeks in our top two statistics: Drive Success Rate and Adjusted Net Passing Yards per Attempt, and the Jaguars rank at the bottom of the league in both categories, 30th in each. The best way to stomp out any thoughts of Jacksonville winning is to continue the dominance in these two categories.
- The Jaguars are also the worst team in both the Orange and Red Zone, which again should be a significant advantage for the Colts. In fact, the Colts have only allowed one drive in two games to even reach the Red Zone. In their first meeting they only made one trip to the Red Zone in Jacksonville. How can the Jaguars stay in the game? Cashing in from the Orange and Red Zone. A tall task, but bad news for the Colts if it happens.
- The Jaguars are pretty similar to the Chiefs Offense in terms of 3rd/4th down Efficiency, converting one of every three. They converted just 17% back in Week 4, and the Colts shut down the Chiefs last week as well.
- I expect the Jaguars to run the ball fairly well, as the Colts have not been able to stop the run at all the past two weeks, despite playing a couple of their best games of the season. It most likely won't matter either way, but wanted to point out how bad the Jaguars are running the ball, and how they'll probably do it well Sunday.
- The Jaguars Defense is better statistically then their Offense, but it still isn't very good. The Colts need to continue improving their passing game numbers, and the Jaguars rank just 28th in pass Defense. Look for a big day from Andrew Luck.
- The Colts are back on top of the NFL in Turnovers, giving it away less than once per game. Jacksonville is around the league average forcing them, so I wouldn't be shocked to see one Sunday. Multiples will obviously be bad for the Colts, especially if they score on the play. Can't give them free points to hang around.
- In the Orange and Red Zone, we see the Jaguars ranking last from inside the 35, but just 21st from inside the 20. How does that happen? Lots of touchdowns coming from between the 35 and the 20. The Colts should take multiple shots when they're between those yard lines, as it should lead to good things. This area should be big for Coby Fleener.
Everything points to the Colts winning comfortably Sunday to finish off the regular season, but as we've seen too many times with this Colts team, they let other teams hang around when they shouldn't. To be fair it hasn't happened a lot lately, but I feel like this might be one of those games where they lack motivation, get down early, then come roaring back and win in the 4th quarter. It'll be just like the good ol' days. They'll get he job done, but it won't be pretty. Just a gut feeling.
Colts 27, Jaguars 19