Week Three: Jacksonville Jaguars at Indianapolis Colts
Location: RCA Dome Indianapolis, IN
Kick-off time: 1:00 pm EST
Week three brings another division rival into town: the Jags. River City Rage and I have been blogging all week about this matchup. Hell, we talked the whole off-season about this game, and now it's almost upon us. This week three match-up is a big game for both teams. The winner is #1 in the AFC South for the early part of the season. For the Jags, everything is slanted in their favor. I don't care what the Vegas odds say, all the momentum is clearly with the Jags: they won big on Monday Night; their defense looks great; Fred Taylor is healthy; the Colts are really banged up.
This game will really show us Colts fans just how good our boys are. Corey Simon will once again not play. Adam Vinatieri is so banged up they signed Martin Gramatica as insurance (a signing that has prompted a history debate between myself and Pats Pulpit blogger Tommasse). Ryan Diem has an injuried hamstring. Freeney's butt still hurts, and to top it all off Jake Scott has an injury to his knee. For the love of God, the one game where I feel we really need a good performance from Jake Scott, and he has a busted knee. Ugh!
Anyway, on to the keys to the game:
Special Teams. Not to toot my own horn too much, but if you go back and read my keys for the Giants and Texans games, you'll see I was spot on in my analysis. Yes, it truly is hard to be this good.
Ok, truth be told, my thoughts on those games were pretty basic, expect of course for the special teams play against the Giants. It was the difference, as I said it would be. For this game, same thing. If Vinatieri can kick off and hit FGs, the Colts can win the special teams battle. If you win on ST, you have a very good chance of winning the game. If Vinatieri is hurt to the point where he cannot play, then we got problems.
Fred Taylor v. the Colts run defense. I tyically do not like the Scouts.com Colts site called ColtPower, mainly because they actually have the nerve to charge you to read their stuff. Hell, the NY Times isn't worth paying a fee to read online. Why the hell would I pay to read ColtPower?
Still, despite this, Colt Power did post a very good preview for the Jags v. Colts game, and we at Stampede Blue agree: Fred Taylor is the key. Taylor has been a big thorn for the Colts for a while now. He was bottled up and contained last season because of Corey Simon. This Sunday, Simon will not play and "Fragile" Freddie Taylor has looked healthier than he has the last two seasons. The Colts defensive line must stop Taylor and force the Jags to play one dimensional offense.
Fatty McButterpants. If the Colts contain Taylor, this means Jaguars QB Byron Leftwich will have to throw the ball. Leftwich (or as we Colts fans call him-- Fatty McButterpants) stinks. I don't say this to disrespect the Jags or the folks at Big Cat Country, but Bryon Leftwich really, really sucks as an NFL QB.
You need only look at the week two matchup last season to see Leftwich in his element: fumbling the ball, making bad throws, and flopping around on the RCA Dome turf like a beached whale going through crack withdrawl. MasterRWayne once told me a long time ago that the Jags drafting Leftwich was a blessing in disguise for Colts fans. This meant a pretty good QB, David Gerard, would sit the pine while Fatty McButterpants made certain the Jags would remain an average to decent team, but never a very good one.
As a football fan, ask yourself this: when have you ever seen Byron Leftwich perform well in a key game? We've seen guys like Roethlisberger, Eli Manning, Hasselbeck, McNair, Brees, and even Mark Brunell perform well in the clutch. We all know Peyton and Tommy are the best. When has Fatty done anything like that? The simple answer is he hasn't. I remember listening to the horrid announcers for ESPN's MNF crew talk about Leftwich last Monday night, and they quoted him as saying that for whatever reason, the Jags offense has always starts slow in games during the Leftwich era.
Gee, I wonder why?
Well, there are the keys. Special teams and run defense are big in this game. How Manning will factor in depends mostly on how the Jags play him. If the Jags blitz, and sources indicate that they will, then Manning will have one-on-one coverage with his receivers and TEs. Look for Dallas Clark to have a big day if the Jaguars bring the LBers and safeties after Manning. Another key player is Marvin Harrison. Last year in Jacksonville, Marvin caught 6 passes for 137 yards and 2 TDs. ONE of the reasons for this was Jacksonville's paranoia towards Reggie Wayne, who has often KILLED the Jags.
As always, we hope for a clean game with no injuries. There's cross-blogging content galor fast approaching between us and the folks at Big Cat Country. The Jaguars smell blood in the water. Is it real, or are the Colts luring the spotted kitties into a trap?
Update [2006-9-23 15:19:59 by BigBlueShoe]: From MadTownColtsFan in the comments section:
Plus Freeney may be out too. Tough week for the Colts D.