John: It's already week 10? Damn. Time flies when you're having fun watching the NFL week after week. Every team has played more than eight games now and the push to the playoffs is on. It's the time of year when we find out what teams are the pretenders and what teams are the contenders. That was pretty generic, I know. I need something to put up here knowing I have to write about the Jaguars today.
As always I'm joined by Bret Clev and Mike Maloney to break down tonight's game.
Standings after Week 9 (Straight Up)
John 88-44 .667 (Last Week 12-2)
Bret 85-47 .644 (10-4)
Mike 84-48 .636 (9-5)
We're all doing very well. I went 12-2 in each of the last two weeks.
Indianapolis (5-3) at Jacksonville (1-7) 8:20 PM ET
Bret: This is a week I think the public manages to come out on top gambling. Obviously people are in love with Indianapolis right now, and while normally I'd be quick to go against that perception - mostly because Jacksonville is that rare breed of animal that is actually WORSE at home than on the road (0-4 against the spread) 34-126 point differential.
Indianapolis still is a below average team benefiting from a bit of an easy schedule, but that win against Miami last week was legit, and shows just how far they've come. I think Jacksonville's offense will have one of its best days against a defense that is pretty weak in both facets of the game (32nd pass/31st rush), and that will keep them in this game until the end.
Still, I think Indianapolis makes less mistakes in this game than Jacksonville, and this is not the week the Colts come back to Earth. Indianapolis 27 Jacksonville 24
Mike: I feel like this is one of those games where EVERYONE is behind the Colts, which you'd think would cause them to lose. Unfortunately they are playing the Jaguars, who have only been competitive in one of their last five games, and that was against the hapless Raiders. Now yes, the Jaguars have shown themselves to be capable of beating the Colts, as it's their only win on the schedule, but that Jaguars team had Maurice Jones-Drew playing, and Andrew Luck was also in his third career start.
Detroit didn't really have much trouble moving the ball against the Jaguars, so I wouldn't expect the Colts to either. One of the big weaknesses of the Colts is their run defense, unfortunately Rashad Jennings isn't really going to be the answer there. I'm tentatively picking the Colts to win on the road, just because Jacksonville is so bad without MJD, and because this is a really big game for Indy on the path to the playoffs. They play 5 of their last 8 on the road, and have games against the Patriots and the Texans twice. However, their performance away from home and the short week, a Jaguars upset wouldn't shock me. Indianapolis 20 Jacksonville 16
John: Initially I was tempted to pick the Jaguars to win this game, but then when I dug into the stats deeper I realized I have a tough time picking this team to win any game the rest of the year. Their only win came against the Colts in week three in Indianapolis. The Colts were up 17-16 with less than a minute left when Blaine Gabbert connected with Cecil Shorts on an 80 yard TD pass. That led to their 22-17 victory (failed two point conversion). The key stat from that game is that Maurice Jones-Drew ran the ball for 177 yards on 28 carries to lead the Jaguars to the victory.
Since then, some things have changed. Jones-Drew is not playing and if you asked me I think he'll be on another team next season too. You can't replace MJD with Rashad Jennings and expect the same kind of production. We've seen that he's not as good. The Colts are also playing a lot better having won three straight games and four of their last five games. I can't say I remember that Jags/Colts game, but looking at it on paper you can see that the Jags used a ball control offense and then a big play late to win that game.
The Colts wins this year all happened in close games. Their margins of victory in their five wins are by 3, 3, 6, 6 (in OT) and 3 points last week against the Dolphins. I think a lot of credit has to be given to QB Andrew Luck, who does a tremendous job of keeping his poise during these close games. He is patient in the pocket, moves around if he has to and he's accurate. Winning four of five isn't just due to an easy schedule. They're playing better because Luck is building a chemistry with his teammates. If the Jags don't double team Reggie Wayne, Luck will find him early and often. If they do key on Wayne then Luck has shown he can find the other WRs.
To beat the Colts the first thing you should do is run the ball. The Jags aren't good at that without MJD. Jennings is getting just 3.1 yards per carry. That's nothing to get excited about. I think the Colts will be able to deal with that and they will put some points on the board. It's not like there's a home field advantage for the Jags when their fans know the team is arguably the worst in the league (battle with the Chiefs for that honor) and they have issues on both sides of the ball.
The spread is three points for the Colts and the over/under is 42.5 points. I don't know if I'll make a bet on it, but I'll go with the Colts and the over just because both defenses have a lot of question marks. I think the Jags will put up a fight, but it won't be enough. Colts 27-20
Thanks for reading. We'll see you again on Friday for the rest of this week's games.
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