KICKOFF: Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, Lucas Oil Stadium. TV: CBS, Spero Dedes, Solomon Wilcots.
SERIES HISTORY: 32nd meeting. Indianapolis leads the series, 21-10. Jacksonville won the first meeting this year, a 30-27 win in London where the Jaguars raced out to a 23-6 lead after three quarters and then hung on after the Colts scored three touchdowns in the final 15 minutes. Jacksonville won last year's second meeting, 51-16, the most points scored by a Jaguars team in a regular-season game. That ended a six-game Colts winning streak in the series.
KEYS TO THE GAME:
Nothing is at stake in this game as one team is searching for a head coach and the other has a head coach searching for his team.
The Jaguars fired Gus Bradley and THEN ended their franchise record nine-game losing streak with a shocking 38-17 win over Tennessee. The Colts came into this season off a disappointing 7-8 record in 2015 and need a win Sunday to achieve the same level of disappointment a second consecutive year.
When Jacksonville team owner Shad Khan announced that he was firing Bradley, he said general manager Dave Caldwell "will now be charged with exploring all options to hire the best head coach possible."
It has since been revealed that the Jaguars hired the search firm of Korn Ferry Institute to compile a list of the best coach possibilities.
It is unclear what would happen if Caldwell has a name that is not on the search committee's list.
As for the game, Colts coach Chuck Pagano said, "Our message this week is to finish. We need to find a way to go into the offseason on a high note. It's much better than the alternative. We have a game to win."
Offensively, the Colts want to control tempo and the clock. That means continuing to show improvement running the football. Getting off to a fast start will be crucial.
Colts QB Andrew Luck has thrown just 12 interceptions, along with 29 touchdown passes, this year. He has a 64 completion percentage and a 96.8 passer rating. Almost unnoticed, he has not been sacked for two games.
Jacksonville would like to have a balanced mixture of run and pass; but, with only one of its top three running backs healthy, that may be difficult. Chris Ivory is the lone running back of the team's three leading rushers who will play as both T.J. Yeldon and Denard Robinson are injured. Ivory has a hamstring issue that limited his play last week.
So QB Blake Bortles may throw more, which was a good thing last week when he passed for 325 yards and posted his first triple-digit QB rating of the year.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
--Jaguars QB Blake Bortles vs. Colts secondary. With Jacksonville likely to air it out this week due to a lack of healthy running backs, this will be the only way the Jaguars can gain a win. Bortles will need to play as well as he did last week, when he threw for 325 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions in compiling a rating of 103.5, his best mark this season. Bortles finally found the connection with Allen Robinson that he had been missing all season as Robinson caught nine of the 12 passes sent his way. He finished with a season-best 147 yards. The Jaguars could catch a break if CB Darius Butler can't play; he's in the NFL's concussion protocol following an injury last week in the team's loss at Oakland.
--Colts WR T.Y. Hilton vs. Jaguars CB Jalen Ramsey. An elite receiver against a potentially elite cornerback. Hilton already has proven himself to be among the best receivers in the league. He was named to his third straight Pro Bowl last week. He leads the New York Giants' Odell Beckham Jr. by 30 yards for tops in NFL receiving yards. Ramsey likely will be assigned to cover Hilton much of the game, like he did in the first meeting in London. Ramsey and some others did a credible job there, holding Hilton to seven catches for only 42 yards. Ramsey has played at a peak level the last couple of weeks. He totaled four tackles, five pass breakups and an interception two weeks ago against Houston, and followed that with 4-5-1 totals last week. The interception resulted in a 30-yard return for a touchdown. Whoever wins the Hilton-Ramsey battle will give his team a decided edge in the game.
FRIDAY INJURY REPORT
--Out: DT Jordan Hill (calf)
--Questionable: WR Allen Hurns (hamstring), RB Chris Ivory (hamstring), WR Marqise Lee (hip), WR Neal Sterling (concussion)
--Out: CB Darius Butler (concussion)
--Doubtful: WR Donte Moncrief (shoulder)
--Questionable: LB Chris Carter (shoulder), CB Rashaan Melvin (knee)
Colts TE Erik Swoope. The former college basketball player with no previous football experience at any level continues to impress. Swoope had a big game against Minnesota two weeks ago, scoring his first touchdown, and had a nice downfield catch against Oakland last week. He has 14 catches for 275 yards. Swoope will be a free agent in the offseason but is expected to be re-signed.
-- Jags QB Blake Bortles has 3,604 yards passing and is one of three QBs in team history with two seasons of 3,500 yards. WR Allen Robinson had 147 yards receiving last week and leads team with 68 catches, 801 yards and six TDs.
-- Since 2012, Colts QB Andrew Luck has 130 passing TDs, third most by a player in his first five seasons.
-- Colts RB Frank Gore has 1,227 yards from scrimmage (964 rushing) and is the only player in NFL history with 11 consecutive seasons with 1,200 yards from scrimmage. He needs 36 yards rushing for his ninth 1,000-yard season, which would be fifth in NFL history.
-- Colts WR T.Y. Hilton leads the NFL with 1,353 yards receiving.
OK, who was that team that played in the Jags uniform last week? Assuming a return to some semblance of normalcy, the Colts should win at home to finish .500 again.
OUR PICK: Colts, 28-21.