The Colts return to action after a mini-bye week. Indianapolis hosts the division rival Jacksonville Jaguars as they look to avenge Week Two’s shutout loss in Florida. Both teams will be hoping for more production from the offense than they got in Week Five.
Colts vs. Jaguars: Offensive Comparisons
Matt Ryan continues to ride the rollercoaster of inconsistent offensive line play, and his numbers show it. Despite being near the top of the league in passing, Ryan continues to turn the ball over at an alarming rate. The bright side is that Ryan continues to show poise in the pocket and has led the Colts’ offense down the field in a few key fourth-quarter drives.
Jacksonville quarterback Trevor Lawerence has shown progress early and often this season. His completion percentages have been solid most weeks, and this offense looks much more adept than it did last year. However, Lawrence struggled against the Texans in Week Five, completing 25 of his 47 attempts while throwing two interceptions. Lawrence is currently tenth in the league in passing yards, ahead of Aaron Rodgers, Jalen Hurts, and Patrick Mahomes.
The Colts are thin at this position while they deal with injuries to Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines. Taylor is trending up and could play this week, but Hines remains in concussion protocol and will likely be sidelined. If that is the case, Philip Lindsay may see the field again. Keep an eye on Deon Jackson, who looked good on a few carries against the Broncos.
Many were surprised to see James Robinson assert himself as the lead back early in the season. While Robinson continues to play well, Travis Etienne had a bit of a day in week five against Houston, rushing for 71 yards on 10 carries and catching four passes for 43 yards. If Etienne continues to be a threat in the backfield, Jacksonville will have quite the one-two punch.
Advantage: Colts (Unless Taylor is Ruled Out)
Alec Pierce, come on down, you’re the next contestant on “Indy’s number two receiver”. Horribly dated joke aside, Pierce clearly has a bond with Ryan, who has shown trust in the rookie on several key plays so far this year. Michael Pittman, Jr. continues to be the guy on the outside for Indianapolis. The Colts still hope to see more from Paris Campbell.
A lot of folks laughed at the Jaguars when they signed Christian Kirk to that big contract in the offseason. He has spent most of the year making the Jaguars happy that they did. He leads the team in targets and yards thus far. Although Marvin Jones is the number two wideout on paper, Zay Jones has been delivering in that role on the field. The latter Jones leads the team in receptions with 22.
Mo Alie-Cox and Kylen Granson have led the way for the Colts at tight end. While neither has the blocking ability of Jack Doyle, they both have had a positive impact in the passing game. Jelani Woods has shown his potential to make big plays as well.
Jacksonville acquired Dan Arnold from the Carolina Panthers last year, but free agent signing Evan Engram gets most of the targets at this position. Averaging 8.8 yards per reception, Engram has been a solid safety valve for this offense early on.
There is no need to pontificate here. The Colts are in the bottom ten in the league when it comes to protecting the passer. Jacksonville has only allowed six sacks this year.
Colts vs. Jaguars: Defensive Comparisons
Despite the loss of Kwitty Paye last week to an ankle injury, this group looked great for Indianapolis on Thursday. Deforest Buckner came alive in a big way, collecting eight tackles, two sacks, a forced fumble, and a pass defended. Grover Stewart had a huge play last week, and linebackers Zaire Franklin and Bobby Okereke will continue to cover for the injured Shaquille Leonard.
Josh Allen has led the way with three sacks for the Jags this year. Linebackers Devin Lloyd and Foyesade Oluokun pace the squad with 49 and 46 tackles, respectively. This team has sacked the quarterback 10 times to date this year. Against a questionable offensive line, they will likely add to that total.
The hero of the Colts’ Week Five victory was Stephon Gilmore. The former defensive player of the year made huge plays in the fourth quarter and overtime to save the game and help seal the victory. Kenny Moore II is third on the team in tackles this season and second to Gilmore in passes defended. Safeties Rodney McLeod and Rodney Thomas II are the only other Colts with an interception this year.
A rare sight on an NFL stat sheet, four of the six leading tacklers in Jacksonville are members of the defensive backfield. Safeties Rayshawn Jenkins and Andre Cisco have combined for 50 tackles, three interceptions, and six passes defended. Tyson Campbell and Shaquill Griffin defend the outside, combining for 41 tackles and five passes defended.
The last time these teams met, the Colts were shut out. Indianapolis tends to play well against Jacksonville at home, but the Jaguars will be hungry after a disappointing loss to the Texans. It’s a must-win game for a Colts team somehow playing its fourth division game in six weeks.
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