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2014 NFL Week Twelve Preview: Indianapolis Colts vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

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The Colts get to take their frustrations from last week out on the lowly Jaguars this week, who would just love to spoil the Colts party. Can the Colts take care of business and continue to lead the AFC South?

Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

I can't think of a better way for the Colts to bounce back from a very poor performance against the Patriots with a home game against one of the worst teams in the NFL, the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jaguars will be coming to Indianapolis after a week of rest (the Colts third straight opponent to do so), and will be trying for their second win of the season. But it's going to be an uphill climb.

Sunday is actually a pretty similar situation the Colts were coming off of before the first Jacksonville game. They opened the season losing their first two games (the second on National TV), and there was lots of chatter about how this team is done, they can't play any more, blow the whole thing up, etc. They got to take out their frustrations on a Jaguar team that didn't know what hit them, a 44-17 blowout in Florida. It's too bad they can't bring the pool up with them this week.

Quite a bit has changed with the Jaguars since that game, however. In Week 3 we saw the debut of Blake Bortles at QB to start the 3rd quarter (it was already 30-0, so what did they have to lose), and he hasn't missed a start since. While he's certainly making some rookie mistakes (14 interceptions in 8 games), he's had some decent games. It doesn't help that his leading receiver, Allen Robinson, was put on IR this week with a foot injury, but for the situation he's been put in, he hasn't been Blaine Gabbert (shudder). We'll also see a lot more of Denard Robinson at RB, as he split carries with Toby Gerhart in the first matchup but has definitely won the starting role over the last few weeks.

With their Week 3 win, the Colts have won four straight against the Jaguars, with the average score being 35-10, so they really haven't been close for a while now. It screams to me we're going to see "the whole kitchen sink" from the Jaguars, especially coming off of their bye week. Denard Robinson hasn't thrown a pass yet this season, and I'd all but guarantee we'll see one this week. The Colts are going to bite a bit harder this week on stopping the run, so I'd actually be shocked if we don't see it. I wouldn't count out something on special teams as well. It's obvious they can't line up and beat the Colts, so these types of plays will help them stay in the game.

How do the stats look for these two teams? Let's jump in and take a look.

Statistical Comparison between the Colts and Jaguars:

Statistic Colts Jaguars
Offense Rank Defense Rank Offense Rank Defense Rank
DSR 74.8% 6 68.5% 12 61.7% 31 68.1% 10
ANPY/A 7.041 4 5.650 17 3.489 30 5.949 20
Turnovers 1.83 21 1.78 13 2.53 31 1.20 30
Yds/Drive 34.71 2 30.17 19 22.28 32 30.71 21
ToP/Drive 2:51.0 11 2:21.0 2 2:12.0 31 2:48.0 21
Yds/Play 5.847 3 5.518 25 4.742 28 5.326 20
Orange Zone Eff 56.4% 13 62.3% 29 52.1% 18 50.8% 10
First Downs/Drive 1.95 7 1.70 16 1.27 31 1.60 12
3rd/4th Down 42.1% 9 33.1% 4 34.5% 26 40.6% 22
Avg Start Pos 31.3 10 24.9 1 27.5 27 33.3 29
3 and Outs 3.44 13 4.70 4 5.06 32 3.37 19
RZ Eff 64.4% 16 75.1% 30 57.8% 27 60.7% 11
Plays/Drive 5.943 6 5.311 9 4.755 31 5.701 18
Penalty Yds / Play 0.711 8 0.768 21 0.437 1 0.776 20
RB Success 42.6% 17 47.0% 24 37.1% 30 37.4% 4
Yds/Carry 3.92 21 4.89 32 3.82 25 4.38 23
Overall 7 13 32 19

Keys to the Game:

  • The Colts go from facing the 4th best Offense (according to the Winning Stats) to the league's worst in a span of a week. I'm thinking no matter how they do this week, it'll look better than last week.
  • The Jaguars really struggle in our top five statistics, and a good day in any of those is going to be bad news for the Colts Defense. Long, sustained drives, being able to throw the ball consistently, and not turning it over will cause me to start twitching. Let's hope it doesn't get to that point.
  • Where can the Jaguars maybe take advantage of a Colts weakness? Scoring points in the Orange and Red Zone. The Jaguars are right around league average from inside the 35, and the Colts just love giving up points once they get backed up. If Jacksonville has any chance of winning they have to score 7 each time they get inside the 35. I know Josh Scobee is a "Colts killer", but I actually think the more we see of him kicking FGs than TDs the better.
  • The Jaguars also are the least penalized team in the NFL. Don't expect many free yards on either side of the ball.
  • The Colts will have to contend with a Jaguars Defense that is better than a lot of people think, especially in our most important stat, Drive Success Rate. For this week, I think the bigger plays will be on first and second downs, keeping the yardage needed limited, and making later downs more manageable without Ahmad Bradshaw. It'll also open up more of the playbook.
  • It's normally bad when the Colts turn the ball over (which they do a lot), but it'll be especially bad this week against the 30th ranked team in forcing turnovers. There is no excuses this week. They must play turnover free, or else I'm not sure they'll be able to in any game this season.
  • The Jaguars are also quite good in the Orange/Red Zone on Defense, ranking 10th and 11th respectively. While we all love Adam Vinatieri, I don't like that we see him so much kicking for three points. I fear we may see that this week.
  • I think we may see a couple big runs from the Colts this week as well, as the Jaguars are really good at RB Success Rate, but not good at Yards per Carry, which means they are a "boom or bust" run-stopping unit. Which RB that will be is a question mark.

In games after losses, the Colts have lost just one game Against the Spread, and that was earlier this year against the Eagles. The Colts are favored by two touchdowns Sunday, and I don't think it'll be that close. I think they come out laser focused, put the Jaguars in a big hole, then get some work running the ball with Boom Herron, who is going to be needed down the stretch. The computer doesn't agree with me (28-21), but I just don't see it being close.

Colts 38, Jaguars 10

Thursday Night Pick: Chiefs 28, Raiders 19. SuperContest Pick. Chiefs have won 10 straight ATS.