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Colts vs. Jaguars Week 6 preview: Offensive line, turnovers are the keys to victory

Colts need an AFC South win to keep their head above water. Can the offensive line and Matt Ryan right their early season wrongs to make that happen?

Jacksonville Jaguars v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

DraftKings Sportsbook has the Colts at 1.5 point home favorites as they face off against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday afternoon at Lucas Oil Stadium.

The Indianapolis Colts have gotten off to a rocky start in 2022. Three of their five games have been against AFC South opponents, with no wins. Their only wins have come against preseason darlings in the AFC West, which boasts the most talent-laden quarterback slate in the NFL.

As expected, no one in the AFC South has done anything to create separation, making this game weight even more important.

The Colts will likely be unable to overcome a losing record in the AFC South. It is a weak division, and competition is too close in the NFL to give away winnable games with any consistency and hope to win the tough games to make up ground. Splitting the season series with the Jaguars is as close to a must as any this season for Indianapolis.

The Colts must do two things better than they have all season to get the job done. First, the Colts must find a way to produce an average or better performance on the offensive line. Mark Glowinski and Chris Reed were interchangeable veteran interior offensive linemen for the Colts in 2021. They have moved on, and the Colts have gone through some uncomfortable experimentation to realize that the original plan wasn’t going to work out.

While the official starting lineup isn’t known, the Colts are expected to roll out a new starting lineup for the first time this season. Rookie Bernhard Raimann is expected to start at left tackle, Quenton Nelson at left guard, Ryan Kelly at center, Matt Pryor is expected to get his shot at right guard, and Braden Smith at right tackle. Somewhere along the line, veteran tackle Dennis Kelly could also get some work.

No matter who trots out there, the Colts need protection for Matt Ryan to run the offense and backup rushers Deon Jackson and Phillip Lindsay to provide balance on the ground. Through five games, that hasn’t happened. A lack of offense has held the Colts back and led to a shutout in Jacksonville. Fixing it starts on the offensive line.

Second, Matt Ryan has to find a way to keep turnovers to a minimum. He cannot stay on pace for an NFL-record number of fumbles and expect to keep offensive drives going. Similarly, he cannot allow himself to make bad decisions, under pressure or otherwise, to give the ball away through the air.

If the Colts can get some consistency from the offensive line and limit turnovers, they will score points and put their defense in a position to do what they have been doing the last few weeks - close out ball games.