Colts vs Jaguars: Week 17 Pregame

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      This Sunday the Colts host the Jacksonville Jaguars in the regular season finale at Lucas Oil Stadium.  We’re starting to see our Colts come into their own these final few weeks, and they’re starting to play some good ball.  The defense has played arguably their best back to back games of the season, and the offense has been very effective on third down conversions and have kept the ball moving downfield.  The Jaguars have been playing some good ball as well; and the Colts cannot go into Sunday’s game with a division rival assuming they’ll be a pushover. We can expect a hard fought battle from the Jags, as they always play the Colts tough regardless of any implications in the post season.

Jags Defense/Colts Offense:

     Jacksonville is on a two game skid, losing to the Bills and the Titans where they had given up a ton of rushing yards in both. The Jags kept themselves in both games with good pass defense, giving up less than 200 yards through the air and forcing three turnovers between the two games. They had won the previous three games- beating the Texans twice and the Browns doing just the opposite, only giving up an average of 86 ypg on the ground in those three games.

      The one consistent has been Paul Posluszny’s production, with 64 tackles and 2 sacks, through the last 5 games.  Rookie Safety Johnathan Cyprien has also been very productive the last three games with 30 tackles and an interception.  Overall, coming into this weekends matchup, the Jaguars are 19th in the league in total pass defense, and 30th against the run.

     The Colts’ offense comes into Sunday seeing its best 3 game stint of the season.  Pep’s playcalling has been head and shoulders above what we’ve witnessed thus far in the season, both in consistency and effectiveness.  The offensive line, even as a patchwork crew, have been protecting Luck very well only giving up 2 sacks in the past 3 games.  As a complete unit, the offense has been considerably more consistent, with play execution being at a seasonal peak.  The offense has converted its last 17 of 33 attempts, which in itself is not topshelf, but is far better than the 36% season conversion rate that they’re currently showing.

     Andrew Luck has been playing his best football of the season as well in my opinion, going 75/115 (65% comp) for 747 yds with 7 TD’s and 1 Int, over the last three weeks.  This can be directly attributed to both Hamilton’s playcalling and coaching, as well as Luck getting himself into a rhythm early in possessions starting with the first possession of the game.  The Colts have had sizeable leads, and have put games away by pounding the ball a total of 37 times on the ground, in the second half the past two weeks.

     In short, the offense is clicking lately, perhaps at the perfect time of the year, with the best production, chemistry, and playcalling of the season.  This should give all of us Colts fans a great deal of excitement! For as much as it’s struggled this year, and eating numerous injuries, the offense has fought through it all and is poised to show off its potential, regardless of the line-up.

Jaguars Offense/Colts Defense:

     The Jags bring their 25th ranked passing/30th ranked rushing offense into Sunday having given up 47 sacks on the season, second worst only to the Dolphins.  Chad Henne and the running game alike have been pretty solid the past 5 weeks. Henne has gone 102/179 (57%) for 1025 yds with 8TD’s. The Jags have also rushed for 120 yds per game in that same span. Their downfall has been the 6 turnovers that they’ve also tallied.  While the Jaguars typically run well against the Colts defense, in the last meeting between the two the Colts held Jacksonville to 40 yards on the ground.

     The Colts pass defense also showed well in week 4, holding Gabbert to 179 yards, notching 3 interceptions. This time around the Colts will be facing Chad Henne who, in my opinion, is a much better all around QB.  If the Jaguars pass protection isn’t worlds better than it has been throughout the season, I don’t look for it to matter much.

      The Colts, as mentioned above, have played their best back to back games of the season. The pass rush has been more prevalent, as they have gotten to the QB 9 times the past two weeks.  The coverage has also looked much better as well, pressuring and staying glued to recievers longer, and getting several passes defended and adding 3 interceptions.  The rush defense is still in need of improvement, giving up close to their average of 130 ypg over the last couple weeks.  If there is a silver lining in that, it’s that Alex Smith ran for almost 50 of the 155 yards that they gave up last week to KC.

      Any way that you look at it, the Colts defense is also trending upwards at the perfect time.  There just seems to be a “fire” in their eyes that, previous to week 15, hadn’t been there since the Denver game. I think we will see that continue this Sunday. More good news is that the Colts appear to be getting healthy as well right now.  Toler came back last week playing a limited role, and only RJF is definitively listed as “out” for Sunday. Cory Redding, Sergio Brown and Mike McGlynn are listed as “doubtful” as well. All others are “questionable” or “probable.” As I stated above, this couldn’t come at a better time.  Going into the playoffs healthy AND possibly on a 3 game win streak, would simply be the icing on the cake to winning the division.

My Soapbox and prediction:

     Something that I’ve noticed a lot lately is that some analysts are predicting the Colts losing certain games, and then saying how overrated the opposing team is after the Colts win the game.  The best example obviously being last week against the Chiefs.  Let me just say this- the Colts have won and, barring a very poor game, can go undefeated in the AFC South. Granted the South isn’t the top division in the league, however in divisional games you can absolutely throw out records, stats, etc for the most part, yet the Colts have taken care of business and strangled the division yet again this season.  The Colts cannot pick their division, cannot decide how the others within the division will be coached, or how they will perform against the rest of the league.

      The Colts have had some poor performances, sure, just as virtually every other team has this season.  With that, the Colts have beat 4 teams that have a combined 11 losses on the season, and 2 of those teams will likely be the #1 seeds in their respective conferences. I am all for being realistic and objective as I sincerely attempt to be when writing these articles, or just talking to friends before or after games.  But, this Colts team should have our highest praises moving into the post season!

      They have used the most amount of players this season throughout the league due in large part to injury. They have a first year offensive coordinator who is trying to gain his footing just as any rookie in the league does. Not to mention they also have a second year head coach, who didn’t complete a full season last year due to health reasons.  Colts fans, we owe it to this organization to be critical. We also owe it to them to give them their due praises for succeeding through adversity and giving us all a reason to cheer on OUR team in the playoffs two straight seasons following a 2-14 year in the basement! GO HORSE!

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Follow me on Twitter:
Matt Danely @The_Blue_Shoe

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