The Colts this Sunday play their first of six AFC South games this season, and it's no easy task. The team is going on the road against the Jacksonville Jaguars, who despite being 0-3 always play the Colts tough. The game will be broadcast by CBS at 1:00 eastern time and will feature Kevin Harlan and Solomon Wilcots on the call. The game will also be broadcast locally on the radio on WFNI and WHLK by Bob Lamey and Jim Sorgi. Here's all you need to know to get you ready for the game.
What Happened Last Week?
It's no secret what the Colts did last week: they made a huge statement. On the road against one of the league's best teams (and the defending NFC Champion) the Colts dominated the San Francisco 49ers and won 27-7 behind an incredibly impressive performance by the defense and the running game. The win vaulted the Colts in the power rankings this week and even had prominent media members like Peter King writing that "Indianapolis looks like the best team in the AFC South" and ranking them number 6 on his power rankings. A win over the Jaguars won't vault them in any power rankings like the 49ers game did, but a loss to the Jaguars could drop them back to near the same level.
Unlike the Colts' resounding victory over the 49ers, the Seattle Seahawks dominating win over the Jacksonville Jaguars was right in line with everybody's expectations. Russell Wilson played just two and a half quarters and threw for 4 scores. The Seahawks' defense (granted, the best defense in the NFL) forced 3 turnovers, recorded 4 sacks, and held Maurice Jones-Drew to just 2.3 yards per carry (43 yards on 19 carries). The loss dropped the Jaguars to 0-3 on the season, with their losses coming to the Chiefs (28-2), Raiders (19-9), and Seahawks (45-17).
Mouse Trap Game?
There is nobody that would argue that the Jaguars are a better team than the Colts. Nobody. But the Jaguars have always played the Colts tough and for whatever reason present a unique challenge to Indianapolis. Added to that, the Colts are playing on the road a game that is sandwiched in between two of the best teams on their schedule this year in the 49ers and Seahawks (who come to Indy next weekend). This is the classic trap game, and the Colts' coaches are well aware of that. In fact, check out what they've put around the locker room this week:
Coaching tactics for this week include a few mouse traps around the locker room pic.twitter.com/AqYq0ZLxBG— Kevin Bowen (@KBowenColts) September 26, 2013
A Tough Division Rivalry
All-time, the Colts are 16-8 against the Jacksonville Jaguars with an 8-4 record on the road. The Colts currently hold a 1 game win streak against the Jaguars. Last year, however, the Jaguars played spoiler in a game that turned out to have massive implications. In what would be Chuck Pagano's final game before being hospitalized with leukemia, it seemed that Andrew Luck had led yet another game winning drive. But then with less than a minute left, Blaine Gabbert hit Cecil Shorts III for an 80-yard touchdown to beat the Colts at home in a game Indy should no doubt have won. Looking back at it, had the Colts won that game they would have won the AFC South with a 12 win season. This year, the team is determined not to let that happen again. On the road, they hope for a performance much more like the one on the road against the Jaguars rather than the loss. In their second meeting of 2012 at Jacksonville, Andrew Luck ran for two scores and the Colts won handily, 27-10. Either way, the majority of the games in the series recently have been close - and it could be on Sunday as well.
The Trent Richardson Show?
Ahmad Bradshaw was tremendous last week. He sent a message to everybody not to forget about him, and we certainly needed it. He will combine with Trent Richardson to be a very formidable two-back duo - but on Sunday, it'll be down to one. Bradshaw has been ruled out with a neck injury and that leaves Richardson as the one to shoulder the load. Donald Brown will see playing time to spell Richardson when needed, but the majority of the snaps figure to go to the recently acquired running back. Although he has had only a week and a half with the team, he still saw significant time last week and has picked up the playbook quite a bit, from what I've heard. And besides - he's a really good athlete. The Colts are playing the NFL's 32nd ranked run defense in the Jaguars, so Richardson should have an impressive game this week. If not, there will be concern. But I fully expect him to have a good game and to begin to really show what he can bring to the Colts. After all, he is going to see quite a bit of time this Sunday.
Here's the Colts' official injury report, as of Friday afternoon:
Ahmad Bradshaw, running back (neck)
Ricky Jean Francois, defensive tackle (groin)
LaRon Landry, safety (ankle)
Joe Lefeged, safety (knee)
Pat Angerer, linebacker (knee)
Antoine Bethea, safety (toe)
T.Y. Hilton, wide receiver (toe)
Samson Satele, center (elbow)
The Colts are good. The Jaguars are bad. The Colts have the league's 4th ranked rushing offense while the Jaguars have the league's 32nd ranked rushing defense. The Colts have Andrew Luck while the Jaguars have allowed 7 passing touchdowns and picked off just one pass through three games. And the Colts defense shut down a talented 49ers offense last week while the Jaguars are averaging just over 9 points per game. The Colts (typically) haven't blown teams out and the Jaguars always play the Colts tough, but Indianapolis absolutely should walk out of Jacksonville with a win. Colts 24, Jaguars 14