It's Week 14 of the NFL Season, which means we all should be holding up four fingers, signaling we're entering the 4th quarter of the year, and while the results haven't quite been what we and the Colts wanted before the season, here they sit at 6-6, tied for first in the AFC South, and with a couple of wins the next two weeks, they'll virtually punch their ticket to the Playoffs. They start the home stretch in Jacksonville as they take on the Jaguars Sunday afternoon.
The Jaguars have had an up-and-down season, with a few more downs than ups with a record of 4-8, losing their last two games after winning three of four games around their trip to London. They've shown flashes of really good play and were right there in the division race two weeks ago, but losses to the Chargers and Titans have ended any chance of that happening.
The first time these two teams met in Week 4, the Colts found some way of beating the Jaguars 16-13 in overtime, but it was really the Jaguars completely blowing it on several occasions, leaving the door open for the Colts, where Matt Hasselbeck was making his first start in three years. That game has not been kind statistically to the Colts, ranking as the second worst game they've played this season, only behind last week's debacle. The Colts could have put the game away midway through the 4th quarter, but Frank Gore fumbled inside the five yard line, giving the ball back to the Jaguars deep in their own territory. Eventually the Jaguars missed not one, but two field goals that would have won the game for them, while the Colts have Adam Vinatieri, who isn't going to miss a game-winner. Sometimes it's better to be lucky rather than good, and that day that certainly was the case for the Colts.
We'll be seeing Hasselbeck's second start of the season against the Jaguars, and his sixth of the season, as he'll be playing through an injury of his own sustained last week in Pittsburgh. Along with Andrew Luck, the only other starter we definitely won't be seeing for the Colts is LB Jerrell Freeman, who remains out with a hamstring injury. They have a whole slew of guys, including OT Anthony Castonzo and WR Phillip Dorsett, who has been out the past five games with a leg injury. For the Jaguars, they'll be without LB Paul Posluszny, who broke his hand and will be out this Sunday.
We have a lot more data than we did back in Week 4 about these two teams, so let's take a look at how they stack-up now and find a winner.
Statistical Comparison between the Colts and Jaguars (Adjusted):
|Orange Zone Eff||57.8%||14||55.6%||19||60.2%||7||63.3%||29||47|
|Avg Start Pos||29.5||18||28.7||7||28.8||24||31.8||30||53|
|3 and Outs||4.32||28||3.36||23||4.42||29||3.12||27||55|
|Penalty Yds / Play||0.713||5||1.087||2||0.722||6||0.837||17||61|
Keys to the Game:
- Amazing as it sounds, the Colts Offense, which has struggled mightily at times this season, will be the best of the four units on the field Sunday. That doesn't say much for either the Colts Defense or the Jaguars on either side of the ball.
- When they are on the field, one of the most important stats for them will be on 3rd and 4th down, as the Jaguars rank dead last in the NFL at stopping opposing Offenses. Add in the loss of Posluszny, and if the Colts fail on 3rd/4th down, it's going to be a long day.
- The Colts have had excellent field position the past several weeks, going from dead last halfway through the season to now 18th in the NFL. They took 0 advantage of that last week, but the Jaguars are 3rd worst in the NFL in opponent's field position, so let's hope the good starting field position continues.
- The Jaguars Defense is quite good against the run, ranking 6th and 7th in RB Success Rate and Yards per Carry. The game is going to be on Matt Hasselbeck's arm, and he's played well in every other game this season, which means after last week, we should see good Matt, and the lack of a rushing attack, like the Buccaneers game, won't really matter.
- Last week the Colts were dreadful in the Orange/Red Zone, scoring just 10 points in six trips inside the 20. For the season they've been good at scoring points when they get into scoring position, and the Jaguars like giving up points, ranking 29th and 26th. The first meeting wasn't kind to the Colts, thanks to that goal line fumble, so if they cash in Sunday, it'll make things much easier.
- On the flip side, the Jaguars best Offensive category is scoring from the Orange Zone, ranking 7th at 60.2%. However, their Red Zone Offense doesn't get much better, which means a couple of things: one, they score a lot of touchdowns between the 35 and 20 yard lines; and two, they don't score a lot of points when they get stuck between the 35 and 20, which we saw in Week 4.
- Their drive stats show they have trouble getting drives started (29th in Three and Outs and Time of Possession per drive), but once they get rolling they're not terrible at keeping them going (16th in Drive Success Rate). The goal for the Colts Defense is to get them off the field as soon as possible, as they can move the ball after that initial first down.
- Neither team commits many penalties, so that shouldn't be a factor like it has against other Colts opponents as of late.
This isn't an absolutely must-win game for the Colts, but it's pretty close, and will make life that much easier going into the Texans game next week, which really is a must-win if they want to win the division. I don't think the Colts will play nearly as bad as they did the first time these two teams met, as that's almost impossible to do. The AFC South streak will live another week, as the Colts take care of business in Jacksonville.
Colts 28, Jaguars 24