The Indianapolis Colts head down to Florida to face the Jacksonville Jaguars this week. The Colts (2-1) are fresh off an upset of the 49ers, while the Jags have yet to win a game this season.
Last week’s win over the 49ers was the most impressive game played by the Colts in years. Indy out-physicaled one of the toughest teams in the country. Head coach Chuck Pagano’s dream of a physical, smash-mouth team seems to have come true
To call Jacksonville a bad team would be unfair to bad teams. They have accomplished next to nothing on offense and are struggling on defense as well. The defense is clearly the superior unit on this team and at times have shown flashes of being fairly good.
Easy wins are few and far between in the NFL, and after last week’s big win a loss would be the ultimate let down.
Here’s what to watch for:
- The Blowout. The Jags are an awful football team. They shouldn’t even be in the FBS, and might be a D-II team. Wait, that’s college. Still, Alabama could give them a good game. This team has no clue how to play offense, and Blaine Gabbert is failing at an alarming rate. Through three games, this team has a -64 points differential. Jacksonville has scored just 28 points this season, that’s about 9.3 points per game. Even if the Colts struggle to move the ball, there’s no way the Jaguars are going to score with anything resembling consistency. A low scoring affair favors Indy heavily.
- Andrew Luck. What is the coaching staff trying to do with Luck? Last season we saw a dynamic downfield passer. He had a few too many turnovers and his completion percentage was a bit low, but it was his rookie year. This season, Luck has seen his percentage go up and turnovers drop down but the deep passes aren’t there anymore. Pep Hamilton’s system features a lot of shorter passes but it seems to be stunting Luck’s development as a passer. His reads and progressions are not as quick or thorough and he is taking more sacks (that are his own fault) then he should.
- Injuries. The Colts have already been hit hard by season ending injuries. Three offensive players have made IR. This week, Indy will be without safety LaRon Landry, DT Ricky Jean Francois, and RB Ahmad Bradshaw are all out this week. The Colts can’t afford more injuries against the Jags. This team has a very tough month coming up and needs to get healthy in the worst possible way.
- More Trent Richardson. With Bradshaw out this week, Richardson will be the feature back. He’ll likely be relieved by Donald Brown at times, but I fully expect Richardson to get 70-percent of the carries. Colts fans should start being harsh with Richardson at this point. He is in great shape and has had enough time to grasp the playbook. The Jags run defense is the worst in the league and he should be able to run all over them. If not, well it won’t get any easier against Seattle the following week.
- 50/50. The Colts have nearly achieved a perfect 50/50 split between run and pass plays called. This seems to have been Pagano’s goal all along. If they weren’t successful, people would be up in arms, but Indy has the fourth best rushing attack in the country and all kinds of faith in Luck’s ability to throw the ball. The team is extremely balanced and able to beat opponents in a number of ways. Expect this trend to continue all season long.
- Grudge match. Somehow, some way, the Jaguars always play Indianapolis tough. It doesn’t matter how good one team is or how bad the other is, it is always a tough match. Under Jack del Rio, you could always count on Jacksonville self destructing at some point in the game. Now, they team is better coached, with Gud Bradley, and much better managed under David Caldwell. While the Colts should dominate Jacksonville, its likely that this will be a much closer game than it has any right to be. The Jags haven’t been this bad in quite some time, but they will likely make this outing more difficult than it should be.
- A fractured leg. Rarely do I wish injury on a player, but I have made a few exceptions (*cough* Brady *cough*). Kicker Josh Scobee is one of those exceptions. He has a rare tendency to hit career records against the Colts. 60+ yard field goal to win the game, no problem. He also has faked injury before to try and draw a penalty.
The Jags are just a dumpster fire of a team, and have been for some time. This has all the making of a trap game with Seattle coming to Indy in a week.
The Colts need to handle their business and let the division know that the AFC South is still owned by Indianapolis.
Colts win an easy game, 28-6.
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