Indianapolis is amazingly in playoff position at 5-3. They are a flawed team, but one that has played well in key moments. When you are the only team that Jacksonville has beaten, and it was at your home, well, you know that you cannot overlook this one.
If we are projecting what it will take, the answer is that 9 wins likely does it (they own the tiebreaker over Miami now) and 8 wins is at least in the mix. Well, when you look at the schedule, you get a split. On one side, you have the Jacksonville game, home games against the Bills and Titans, and a road game against 1-7 Kansas City. On the other side, you’ve got games where the Colts will be underdogs: Houston 2x, at Detroit, and at New England.
Basically, in this week of swing states, this is a swing game, because the Colts need to win at least 3 of the 4 “easy” games, and cannot drop the first.
Indianapolis comes into this one with both starting corners out. Will Jacksonville be able to take advantage? Well, Blaine Gabbert got to go against the Bengals when they had both corners out, and went 23 of 34 for 186, less than 6 yards per attempt, so it’s not automatic that he can take advantage. The Colts will need their defensive front to apply pressure, though, to keep Gabbert’s eyes on the rush.
Jacksonville is one of the worst teams at stopping backs, and we just saw the daunting duo of LeShoure and Bell light them up. The Colts have one of the worst rushing attacks in the league, and in the first matchup, the backs only managed 23 carries for 74 yards (Andrew Luck accounted for 50 yards). Indianapolis will need more contribution from the running game here, or Andrew Luck will be going it alone and facing third and longs (admittedly, an area he has excelled) more often.
The Line: Colts by 3
The Pick: Are the young Colts ready to handle increased expectations? The only other game they were favored this year was the first one against Jacksonville. The Colts are 5-1 in close games, and have yet to win a game by more than 4 points in regulation (they did beat the Titans on a touchdown in OT).
[photo via US Presswire]