Sep 29, 2013; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) barely gets a pass off due to strong defense by Jacksonville Jaguars defensive lineman Jeremy Mincey (94) during the first half of the game at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

Week 17 Preview: Indianapolis Colts vs Jacksonville Jaguars

The Indianapolis Colts host the Jaguars this weekend in the final game of the regular season. The Jaguars (4-11) are a much better than the team the Colts (10-5) saw in Week Four, but are still a bad team.

This week has a ton of play off implications for the Colts. Indy currently has the fourth seed, but could jump up to the second (and a bye week) with some help. Colts fans will want to root for Baltimore over Cincinnati and Buffalo over New England.

Both are a possibility, but New England losing is much more unlikely. Ravens at Bengals is a 1:00pm game, and Bills at Patriots kickoff at 4:00pm. The Colts could use the bye week to get healthier, especially when 12 different players showed up on the injury report this week.

Of course the Colts will also have to beat the Jags on Sunday. This should be the surest bet of the weekend as the Jags have only found wins against the Texans, Browns, and Titans. None of those wins was by more than a touchdown either.

There isn’t a logical reason as to why the Colts should drop this game. Its almost like a tune-up before the playoffs for Indianapolis. The Jags have the worst offense in the NFL and are dead last in DVOA. The Colts dominated the Jags 37-3 in the first meeting back in September.

What we’ll be looking for are trends that will carry over to the postseason.

  • Offense. The Colts have started stringing together solid offensive games over the past couple games. Granted they faced the Texans and an overrated Chiefs team, but they still moved the ball well and scored in the first half consistently. The Jags have the fourth worst defense in the NFL, so moving the ball shouldn’t be a problem. We need to see the Colts with some confidence and explosiveness heading into the playoffs.
    • Andrew Luck. If he gets hot, then the Colts can make the Super Bowl (especially if they get the two seed). Despite what Jim Irsay says, some Star Wars numbers from Luck could propel this team to another championship. It worked pretty well for Joe Flacco and the Ravens last season, no reason the Colts couldn’t do the same.
  • Improvement. Over the past couple weeks, wideouts La’Von Brazill and Da’Rick Rogers have emerged as solid options for Luck. The more reps they get, in practice and games, the more comfortable Luck will be with them. They won’t replicate Reggie Wayne’s ability, but they both have a lot of potential. Getting anything from them over the next two weeks will be huge.
  • The Gunner. Last week, Darrius Heyward-Bey found a way to contribute to the Colts, on special teams. He had two big plays as a gunner, downing a punt inside the five yard line and tackle. Few players would handle a demotion like this as well as DHB has. It speaks a lot to his character and state of mind. In his words: “I’ve never been at this stage, 10 wins, in the playoffs,” DHB said. “Of course I would love to be on the field playing receiver, catching balls, making plays but right now this is my role and I’ve got to embrace it.”
  • Defense. Shutting down the Texans and Chiefs isn’t all that impressive. Both are a quarterback away from being dynamic on offense. The Jags need more than a few pieces on offense, but have thankfully gotten off the Blaine Gabbert train. The Colts would like to head into the playoffs with another dominant defensive performance.
    • Maurice Jones-Drew. There are few players more frustrating to Colts fans than MJD. He has had unreal numbers against the Colts and is thankfully in the last year of his contract in Jacksonville. He’s not the same player he used to be but if he were ever to have a bounce back game, it would be against the Colts. Indy can bid him farewell and pray he doesn’t goes to the NFC.
  • 20. Robert Mathis needs 2.5 sacks to reach 20 for the season. It’s definitely within reach as Chad Henne is sacked on seven percent of his dropbacks. In the last meeting, Mathis had three sacks. If he hits 20, then he should be a lock for Defensive Player of the Year. I think he should get it either way, but 20 is a truly impressive benchmark. DPoY would also likely lock up Mathis’ trip to Canton and the Hall of Fame.

The Colts are overachieving under Chuck Pagano once again (thanks Houston!) and can match last seasons win total tomorrow. A blowout win will give fans a lot of confidence in the team and there’s no reason that won’t happen.

Colts win 28-10.

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Tags: Andrew Luck Indianapolis Colts

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