By the time the Indianapolis Colts (6-4) take the field at Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday to face the Jacksonville Jaguars (1-9), it will have been 707 days since they last lost a game against an AFC South opponent, holding a current ten-game winning streak against the division. They will look to extend that to eleven straight wins against their division and to notch another win toward their hopes of winning another AFC South title. The Jaguars will look to knock off the division leader and hope to get their second win of an otherwise dismal season. Here's your preview for the game.
What Happened Last Week?
The Colts, in their biggest regular season game of the year, fell flat. They lost 42-20 to the New England Patriots and gave up 201 yards and 4 touchdowns on the ground to Jonas Gray. It was an all-around terrible defensive performance and the Colts didn't do much on offense outside of Andrew Luck, either. As for the Jaguars, they had a bye week. Since 2000, they are 6-8 following the bye week, but they've won 3 of their last 4 games after the bye and are 1-0 under Gus Bradley the week following the bye. For the Colts, it will be the third opponent in a row that they will face who is coming off of their bye week.
Key of the Game for the Colts
While our match ups to watch will feature other aspects, the real key to a Colts' win is Andrew Luck and the passing offense. In the team's last meeting with the Jaguars, Luck completed 31 of 39 passes for 370 yards, 4 touchdowns and no picks, and for the performance he was named the AFC's Offensive Player of the Week. He's having a fantastic season and he is always the key to success for the Colts. This time at home against the Jaguars without a strong running game, Luck should once again put up the numbers and once again it will be because of him if the Colts win.
Matchup to Watch: Colts Offense vs. Jaguars Defense
A matchup to watch when the Colts are on offense is the running backs. While Andrew Luck is the key to the offense and while there are other match ups to certainly keep an eye on, I think we'll all be watching the running backs closely. Ahmad Bradshaw is out for the year. That leaves Trent Richardson (fresh off of a 7 carry, 0 yard performance) and Dan Herron (who Colts fans love but is unproven). So, yeah, the Colts are really going to miss Bradshaw and his impact will be hard to replace. With tight end Dwayne Allen (a tremendous run blocker) likely also out this week, it could mean even more struggles for the run game. The Jaguars are 25th in the NFL against the run, but the Colts also have big concerns at the running back position. So while the team still has Andrew Luck and his passing offense to put up some points, we'll definitely be watching the running game to see whether they can give Luck any help whatsoever.
Matchup to Watch: Colts Defense vs. Jaguars Offense
We'll just make it simple and say we're watching the Colts' run defense too (in addition to the run offense). The Colts gave up 246 yards and 4 touchdowns on the ground last week to a Patriots' rushing attack led by Jonas Gray. While the Jaguars don't have the talent the Patriots have, running back Denard Robinson has been impressing recently and the Colts aren't exactly strong against the run. The Colts' defense has been pretty good against the average to below average teams so far this year, so we'll be watching to see whether or not they can keep that up against the Jaguars - especially on the ground.
Why the Colts Will Win
There's really nothing on paper to suggest that the Colts should lose this game. The Colts are 6-4 and the Jaguars are 1-9. The Colts are at home. The Colts have Andrew Luck. The list just goes on, and the Colts are favored to win by two touchdowns. After last week's embarrassment the Colts will be motivated to get back on the winning track and to continue their complete dominance of the AFC South. With Andrew Luck and this passing offense, coupled with a defense that has played relatively well against these caliber teams this year, there's plenty of reason to think the Colts will win this one.
Why the Colts Won't Win
This is a typical trap game for Indianapolis. And as we know, when it comes to division match ups we can often just throw records out the window - take last night's Raiders win over the Chiefs as an example. The Jaguars have pulled out upsets in Indy before, and they'll definitely be looking to get a win against the division leaders in their building. With a team like the Jaguars not having much to fight for other than pride, they'll likely be ready to pull out all of the stops to try to beat the Colts.
Before the season started, I actually picked the Colts to lose this game. It was my "I'm picking it just for the heck of it because I think there will be one of those disappointing games this year" pick that just seconds after I published the article I was already second guessing. A big part of my reason for picking the Jaguars, however, was that I thought the Colts would have a let-down game after a win against the Patriots. Of course, it didn't go that way in reality, and I think the Colts will come out motivated for a big win against a division opponent. I do think the Jaguars will give the Colts a tougher test than some may anticipate just looking at the matchup on paper, but in the end I think it will be a comfortable victory for the home team.
Colts 40, Jaguars 20
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