Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Indianapolis Colts: Prediction, preview, pick to win

By The Sports Xchange  |  Oct. 19, 2017 at 4:16 PM
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JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (3-3) AT INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (2-4)

KICKOFF: Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, Lucas Oil Stadium. TV: CBS, Tom McCarthy, Steve Beuerlein, Steve Tasker (field reporter).

SERIES HISTORY: 33rd regular-season meeting. Colts lead series, 22-10.

The Jaguars have won two of last three games after Indianapolis won six in a row between 2012 and 2015. They have split the series the last two years, both winning home games. Jacksonville has the lowest winning percentage against the Colts (.313) of all teams they have played at least 10 games against. The Jaguars have really struggled at Indianapolis, winning just four of 16 games, including four straight losses.

KEYS TO THE GAME: The Jaguars' plan against the Rams last week was to have QB Blake Bortles throw enough times for enough yards to keep the Rams from bringing too many defenders close to the line of scrimmage to stop the run. It was a good plan and would have resulted in a win had their special teams not allowed a pair of touchdown returns.

Look for more of the same this week, with Bortles likely to put the ball in the air 30-35 times. At times, it won't look much different than their running attack. Most will be short throws to either Chris Ivory or Leonard Fournette out of the backfield or short throws to a tight end. Only three of Blake Bortles' 35 pass attempts last week traveled more than 15 yards in the air -- two completions for 18 and 20 yards and one incompletion. If Fournette's ankle is not 100 percent, look for even more of a passing attack by the Jaguars.

It's like watching an old movie over and over again. But the overall game plan for the Colts remains the same. Indianapolis must be able to finish out games in the second half.

In past seasons, the Colts would start slow and then be able to get things going over the final three quarters. This year, it has been a completely opposite equation.

Offensively, Indianapolis has to do a better job of finishing off drives and not having to settle for field goals. Red zone offense has bogged down too many times. While the running game continues to show flashes, the Colts need added production from that segment this week.

Defensively, Indianapolis can't let Bortles sit in the pocket and pick the secondary apart. The Colts have to find a pass rush -- another long-standing problem -- and get to Bortles. Slowing down the Jacksonville running game won't be easy, but it's necessary that Indianapolis not allow many breakouts.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH:

--Colts QB Jacoby Brissett vs. Jaguars' third-ranked pass defense. Brissett has progressed as a starter this year but still has his moments where he makes a costly mental mistake. He has completed 59.8 percent of his passes (98 of 164), with three touchdowns and three interceptions. Brissett has to do a better job in red zone opportunities.

--Jaguars QB Blake Bortles vs. Colts pass rush. Bortles has completed 97 of 170 passes for 1,068 yards and eight touchdowns. He has been picked off five times and sacked 10 times. Indianapolis has 12 sacks, led by OLB John Simon's three. Simon also returned an interception for a touchdown last week's at Tennessee. The Colts are ranked 30th in the league in pass defense, allowing 295.8 yards per game.

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Jaguars RB Chris Ivory. Looking at the rushing category from last week's game against the Los Angeles Rams, it would appear that Ivory didn't have a very good game: Two carries -- one for two yards, the other for one yard. Nothing special. But drop down a category to receiving and there's Ivory at the top of the list, his stat line reading 10 targets, nine catches, 74 yards and one touchdown. It shows the value of Ivory as a receiver out of the backfield. The Jaguars like Ivory out in open space, where he has a knack for making the first defender miss. Ivory's best effort came on a short throw that he turned into a 22-yard touchdown.

FAST FACTS: Jaguars QB Blake Bortles has passed for 1,056 yards (264 per game), with seven TDs and no interceptions, in the past four meetings. In the past 11 games against the division, he has 19 TD passes and six interceptions. ... RB Leonard Fournette rushed for 130 yards, including a 75-yard TD, last week. He is the first rookie in NFL history with a 75-yard rushing TD in consecutive games. He has 311 rushing yards in the past two games. He also is one of two rookies (Robert Edwards, 1998) in NFL history with a TD in each of his team's first six games. He is tied for the NFL lead with seven TDs and ranks second with 596 rushing yards. ... DE Calais Campbell had two sacks in Week 6, his 14th career multi-sack game. He ranks second in the NFL with eight sacks. ... Colts RB Frank Gore has 577 scrimmage yards (82.4 per game) and four TDs in seven career meetings. He has 271 scrimmage yards (90.3 per game) and a TD catch in the past three home games vs. the division. He has 100 receiving yards in 2017 and is the sixth RB in NFL history with 100 yards in 13 consecutive seasons. ... LB John Simon had a team-high 11 tackles, a sack and his first career interception return for a touchdown last week. He has 2 1/2 sacks in the past three meetings. He is the only player in the NFL with 35 tackles (37), three sacks (3) and an interception in 2017.

PREDICTION: Coming off a loss in which they did far more to lose than the Rams did to win, the Jaguars face a wounded team that came from ahead to lose on Monday night in Tennessee. Leonard Fournette's rushing and a pass rush led by Calais Campbell will be the difference in a low-scoring Jaguars win.

OUR PICK: Jaguars, 17-13.

--Bucky Dent

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