For the second time this season the (5-3) Indianapolis Colts will take on the (1-7) Jacksonville Jaguars, however much has changed since the last time this two division rivals squared off in late September. In that contest the Jaguars recorded their only win of the season and Colts rookie quarterback Andrew Luck was as sure of himself and confident as he seems to be now. This time the teams will meet in Jacksonville at EverBank Field instead of in Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium; but will the change of scenery have anything to do with the final outcome?
The Colts’ offense enters the game ranked fourth in total yards gained per game (390.4 yards), sixth in passing yards gained per game (285 yards), tied for 19th in rushing yards gained per game (105.9 yards) and 23rd in points scored per game (19.9 points) while their defense is ranked 18th in total offensive yards allowed per game (352.3 yards), tied for 11th in passing yards allowed per game (221.5 yards), 25th in rushing yards allowed per game (130.8 yards) and 23rd in points allowed per game (23.9 points).
Luck is having a very fine rookie season so far passing for 2,404 yards (tied for 4th in NFL), 10 touchdowns, eight interceptions and is completing 56.5% of his attempts along with rushing for 148 yards and three touchdowns on 27 carries. Luck has relied on Reggie Wayne plenty this season and will undoubtedly do so again this week against a poor Jaguars defense. This season Wayne has hauled in 61 receptions (2nd in NFL) for 835 yards (1st in NFL) and three trips to the endzone.
Along with Wayne look for Luck to also get the ball to Donnie Avery (34 receptions for 454 yards and a TD) and T.Y. Hilton (24 receptions for 355 yards and 2 TD) who have also been playmakers for him in the passing game this year. On the defensive side of the ball expect a big game out of Jerrell Freeman who is Indy’s leading tackler with 71 and also has a sack, an interception, a defensive touchdown and a forced fumble on the season. Thus far the Colts have only recorded two interceptions as a team this year, that could change quickly versus the Jags and their suspect passing attack.
The Jaguars offense is currently ranked dead last in the NFL in total offensive yards gained per game (254.4 yards), passing yards gained per game (170.4 yards) as well as points scored per game (14.6 points) and are just 28th in rushing yards gained per game (84 yards) while their defense is ranked 27th in both total yards allowed per game (392.9 yards) as well as rushing yards allowed per game (137.4 yards), 26th in points allowed per game (27.4 points) and 25th in passing yards allowed per game (255.5 yards).
Jaguars second-year signal caller Blaine Gabbert is still going through his growing pains as a quarterback in the NFL. This season he has passed for just 1,429 yards, nine touchdowns, five interceptions and completed 58% of his pass attempts.
Gabbert hasn’t had much help out of his running game with Maurice Jone-Drew out of the lineup for most of the season, so much of the offensive load has fallen on his inexperienced shoulder. If the Jags are to stand a chance in this game Gabbert is going have to get some kind of production out of running back Rashard Jennings (63 carries for 194 yards and a TD this season) as well as get the ball down field into the hands of Cecil Shorts (23 receptions for 456 yards and 3 TD) and Justin Blackmon (23 receptions for 255 yards and a TD). The Jaguars defense will also have to play inspired which means that their leading tacklers Russell Allen (64 tackles) and Paul Posluszny (62 tackles) must come to play and bring the rest of the unit along with them.
This game won’t be nearly as close as the last time these two teams met due to the fact that one team, the Colts have a couple of things to play for (their head coach Chuck Pagno who is battling leukemia and a possible playoff spot down the line) and the other team, the Jaguars probably just want to get the season over with already. I like the Colts a lot in this game, look for the final score to be some where in the neighborhood of 31 – 13.