Sunday represents a huge matchup in the AFC South with the Jaguars taking on the Colts. The Colts lead the all time series 22-12, but the Jags have won 4 of the last 5.
The Jaguars have lost 4 straight and are coming off their bye week after losing 24-18 to the Eagles in London. In week 6, the Jags were smoked by the Cowboys 40-7, and lost 20-7 to the Texans in week 7.
The Colts are also coming off their bye after handling the Raiders 42-28 in week 8. In week 6, the Colts lost to the Jets 42-34, and defeated the Bills 37-5 in week 7.
Bovada has the Colts as 3 point favourites at home with the O/U set at 47.
(3-5 overall, 1-2 on the road)
This represents a huge swing game for the Jaguars. They still have one of the most talented rosters from top to bottom in the league, and have the opportunity to make a statement coming off their bye week to make a playoff push. Its no secret that Blake Bortles hamstrings this team, but he has shown the ability to go through hot stretches. Bortles has currently thrown for 2021 yards, 10 TDs and 8 INTS, and is only completing 60.3% of his passes at 7.0 yards per attempt.
Leonard Fournette should return coming off the bye, and they need him as they are averaging just 95 yards per game on the ground and have just 2 rushing TDs on the year. Dede Westbrook (33/435/3), Donte Moncrief (29/375/2), and Keelan Cole (29/379/1) represent the best receiving options on the team, and T.J. Yeldon has had a nice year catching the ball out of the backfield with 37 catches for 346 yards and 4 TDs.
The defense is still statistically a top unit, although they have had some lapses over the past few weeks (Dallas). They are the #1 ranked pass defense allowing just 190.4 yards per game, and have allowed just 9 passing TDs this season (t-1st). The rushing defense ranks 9th worst, allowing 123.2 yards per game but have given up just 6 TDs on the ground. The Jags have struggled to force turnovers this season, having intercepted just 4 passes and recovered 3 fumbles. They are also 8th worst in terms of sacks, having just 19 on the year.
Injuries and Inactive Watch
QB Blake Bortles (shoulder) – questionable , CB D.J. Hayden (toe) – questionable, CB A.J. Bouye (calf) – questionable
(3-5 overal, 1-2 at home)
The Colts were written off at the beginning of the year, but are right in the thick of the things in the AFC South. Andrew Luck was one of the major question marks for the Colts, but has really shown out with 2187 yards on 65.8% passing but is averaging just 6.4 yards per attempt. However, he ranks second in the NFL with 23 TDs and has thrown 8 interceptions. After being a nonfactor for the first part of the season, the running game has been resurrected with the return of Marlon Mack. Since week 6, Mack has 347 yards on 6.2 yards per carry and has 3 TDs.
The Indianapolis Colts pass defense ranks middle of the pack at 261.5 yards per game, and has given up 13 passing TDs. They are also average at defending the run giving up 109.9 yards per game, but have allowed just 6 TDs on the ground. They have done a nice job of forcing turnovers, picking off 9 passes and recovering 7 fumbles, and rank in the middle of the league with 21 sacks on the year.
Injuries and Inactive Watch
WR Ryan Grant (ankle) – questionable, S Malik Hooker (hip) – questionable, HB Marlon Mack (ankle) – questionable
This is a huge swing game in the AFC South if either of these teams have hopes of keeping up with the Texans. The Jaguars are the far superior team on paper, but have not been playing like it lately. Blake Bortles is too sporadic to keep the Jaguars competitive in some games, but could find success against a Colts D that lacks great coverage or consistent pass rushers. Leonard Fournette returning will be huge for the Jags to get back to their ground and pound game that they like to play.
The Colts offense has relied almost solely on Luck this season, and the Jags coverage/pass rush can be a real problem if they get going. The Jags have struggled to stop the run this season, struggling with run fits and tackling, and if the Colts can get a bit of a lead, Marlon Mack could figure to have a big day. This game should definitely be on your radar Sunday as it has huge implications and should be entertaining down to the wire. In the end, who wins is a toss up, but the Jags have to come out of their bye week and play up to their capability, which is why I have them covering Sunday.
Final Pick: Jaguars (+3)