The Colts face an important test at home against the division rival Jacksonville Jaguars. After losing to the Titans on the road last week, Indianapolis has a chance to win today and stay in the race for the AFC South. If they lose today, they will find themselves two games back — a hole that they might not be able to climb out of without Andrew Luck on the field.
Speaking of Andrew Luck, Jason La Canfora is reporting that “a source with knowledge of the situation” does not expect Luck to return to the field until sometime after Thanksgiving. If that is true, every home game and every opportunity to win will be precious. Losing games that they should have won — like last week against the Titans and at home against Arizona will come back to haunt them (just in time for Halloween).
Speaking of scary, the Colts will once again have incredible fortune when it comes to their opponent and the healthy scratch of its biggest weapon. Before we get to the game today, let’s take a quick look back:
- Week 1, the Colts faced a Rams team without Aaron Donald.
- Week 2, the Colts faced a Cardinals team without David Johnson.
- Week 3, the Colts faced the Browns without Jamie Collins and Myles Garrett.
- Week 4, the Colts faced the Seahawks whose best receiver, Doug Baldwin, had been nursing a groin injury all week.
- Week 5, the Colts faced the 49ers who was without their best linebacker, Reuben Foster.
- Week 6, the Colts faced an immobile version of Marcus Mariota on the road for their first divisional game.
This week, Indianapolis will host a Jacksonville Jaguars team (that lives and dies by the success of their running game) without rookie sensation running back Leonard Fournette. Losing Fournette for Jacksonville is kind of like not having Andrew Luck for the Colts. Both players are that important to their respective offenses.
Indianapolis will also include second round cornerback Quincy Wilson as a healthy scratch on the inactive list for a second straight week. He will be joined by Luck, injured rookie inside linebacker Anthony Walker, running back Matt Jones, cornerback Pierre Desir, tight end Henry Krieger-Coble, and offensive lineman Isaiah Williams.
The other relatively interesting decision to note is placed Matt Jones on the inactive list, while keeping Josh Ferguson active even though he only recently rejoined the team. It is fair to say that Ferguson has more experience in the Colts offense than Jones (so it’s not entirely surprising) but after losing a bruising back like Turbin and making numerous comments about the importance of pass protection in the backfield, it seems odd to have a smaller scat-back to round out your rotation.
The 5 Keys to a Colts Victory
1. Eliminate costly mistakes and penalties. Too often the Colts have been in a good position to win football games or have arrived at a deciding point in the game only to commit a turnover or get called for a penalty that turns the outcome on its head. This is an improving Jaguars team who is a QB away from being super dangerous, but it is a young team that will make its own mistakes. If Indy can not return the favor, they can win.
2. Punish the Jaguars ground game and force Bortles to win the game. This Jacksonville team relies on its smash mouth running game to control the clock, move the chains, wear out defenses, and allow Bortles to play against coverages that are more designed to help against the run than they are to suffocate his receivers. If Indianapolis can flip the script and force Bortles to make reads and decision, they will have a chance to make big defensive plays and help the offense win the field position battle.
3. Find a way to play a complete game. Indianapolis has come out in the first half of ball games and controlled the tempo. Last week the second and third offensive drives were about as impressive as the offense has been since Jacoby Brissett took over for Scott Tolzien last in Week 1. However, the offense disappears in the second half of games and the defense struggles to hold on to leads. If this can stop today, the Colts will win the game.
4. Stay balanced offensively. Last week the Colts had relative success on the ground early. Suddenly, and without legitimate explanation, Indianapolis abandoned the run. Both Frank Gore and Marlon Mack were able to get things going with some decent runs. The Jaguars secondary is so stifling that the running game will be more important this week than ever. Brissett must not check to pass on every run pass option opportunity he is given.
5. Marlon Mack must play a bigger role in the game. There are only a few offensive weapons on each NFL team who have such great value that the coaching staff should actually make modification, or scheme, to get that particular player involved. Indianapolis has T.Y. Hilton and rookie Marlon Mack who absolutely fit in that category. These are game-breaking athletes who can put you in excellent situations if you get them going. Ask the Chiefs about Tyreek Hill. In any case, Rob Chudzinski and Chuck Pagano must get Mack going in this game. Time for the training wheels to come off.
If the Colts do these things, they can stay in the running for the AFC South. If they don’t, they will be one step closer to a very high draft pick in 2018.
1:00 PM ET on Sunday, October 22, 2017
Lucas Oil Stadium — Indianapolis, IN
CBS — Tom McCarthy, Steve Beurlein, Steve Tasker (sideline)
WFNI (107.5FM/1070 The Fan) and WLHK (Country 97.1 Hank FM) — Bob Lamey, Jim Sorgi, Matt Taylor (sideline)
ESPN Radio — Adam Amin, Bill Polian
TV National Broadcast Map
See which games will be shown in your area, from 506Sports.com.
(Retractable roof stadium) Mid-70’s, mostly cloudy, 20% chance precipitation, wind S 15mph
Jeff Triplette. He is in his 22nd year of NFL officiating.
Over/Under: 43.0 | Spread: Jaguars (-3) (topbet)