The 0-2 Jacksonville Jaguars visit the new LUcas Oil Stadium to take on division rival Indianapolis in an AFC Central match-up.
Indianapolis is 1-1 after a great come from behind win at Minnesota last week, a Game in which they trailed 15-0 nearing the end of the 3rd Q. The Colts have not looked their normal selves since the season started, mostly due to the fact that QB Manning had to undergo minor knee surgery in July and, subsequently, was limited in practice and got literally no work at all in the preseason. Compounding the problem has been the abseNCe of Pro Bowl C Jeff Saturday due to a knee injury suffered in the Fourth preseason Game against Buffalo. The entire Colts team looked totally out of whack in the opener vs the Chicago Bears. Even though Mannings numbers looked good on paper, hitting 30 of 49 passes for 257 yds and a TD, many of those completions were little slants and screens which resulted in short yardage. The longest offensive GAin for the Colts in that Game, out of 64 plays, was only 20 yds. The Chicago defense was fierce though and, in addition to not allowing the big pass play, they totally stuffed the run in allowing just 53 total yds rushing.
The Chicago offense was able to put up 29 pts and 183 yds rushing on the Colts, however, 9 of those points were scored by the Chicago defense on a fumble recovery which was returned for a TD, and on a safety. And 50 of those rushing yds were on a single TD run by Matt Forte. So there were really just two significant plays that really kept the Colts from staying in the Game.
In the Minnesota Game, the Colts again looked stumped on offense as the Vikings stuffed the run and forced 2 Manning INTs. But the Colt defense was able to minimize the damage by holding Minnesota to just 5 FGs through the first 3 Qs of play, for just a 15-0 deficit. Then, starting late in the 3rd Q, Manning was able to put together an 80 yd drive which ended with a 1 yd Addai TD run. On their next possession it just took 3 plays to go 61 yds as Manning hit Reggie Wayne with a 32 yd TD strike and, after a successful 2 pt conversion, the Game was tied. The Colt defense held again and, with just over a minute to play, Manning took the offense 21 yds in 5 plays to set up the winning 47 yd FG.
As shaky as the Colts have been, things have been even worse for the Jaguars. In their season opener at Tennessee, the Titans held them to just 248 yds of total offense and just 10 pts. Jacksonvilles only TD came on a 5 yd drive following a Titan turnover. QB David GArrard was sacked 7 times for 59 yds and intercepted twice, and the Tennessee defense held Jacksonvilles RB duo of Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew to just 31 yds rushing. Things didnt get much better in Game two either as the Jags fell at home to the Bills by a score of 20-16. again, the running Game was stuffed as the Bills allowed Taylor and Jones-Drew a total of just 66 yds on 21 carries, for an average of only 3.1 YPC. QB GArrard was sacked 2 more times and threw another INT, his 4th of the year to only 1 TD pass. Jacksonvilles longest run of the year has been just 13 yds, and their longest pass play only 33 yds. They have been held to just 7 for 25 on their 3rd down conversion attempts.
The Jaguars have serious issues on their OL as they are now missing 4 key players. OT Richard Collier was shot and is in the hospital, starting guards ViNCe Manuwai and Maurice Williams were injured in the first 2 Games and are out for the season, and C Brad Meester is out for several more Games while recovering from a biceps tear. Theyve had to re-sign OG Chris Naeole, who they released prior to the preseason, to try and help shore things up. They have been beaten by two of the lesser reGArded QBs in the NFL in ViNCe Young and Trent Edwards, and now theyve got to travel to probably their fiercest division rival to face one of the best in Peyton Manning.
Despite the Colts early-season struggles, it looks like they really started to click late in that Minnesota Game and I look for that to carry over to this week vs the injury depleted and offensively challenged Jaguars. Despite the 2 INTs, Manning finished that Game 26 of 42 for 311 yds and a TD, with a longest GAin of 75 yds .more like the Manning we know. The Colts will likely be getting C Jeff Saturday back, which should be a big boost to their running Game. As well as Dallas Clark, who was absent from the Viking Game and is a very good blocking TE. The Colts will be looking to atone for their poor performance in front of their own fans in the Chicago Game. And they will be looking to anoint their new stadium with its first-ever win.
Indianapolis is 7-3 SU vs Jacksonville in their last 10 meetings overall, with 6 of those wins being by at least a TD. The Colts are 5-1 SU in the last 6 meetings overall, 4-1 SU in the last 5 meetings at home and 3-0 SU in the last 3 meetings at home. Indianapolis is 8-4 ATS the last 12 Games as a home favorite, with one of those ATS losses being in GArbage time after they had secured the division (2006 Week 17 vs Miami, a 27-22 Colt win). Colts win by double-digits.