BY MARK KERN
The Indianapolis Colts look to notch an important win in the crowded AFC South race this week, but they’ll have to reverse a poor trend against the Jacksonville Jaguars to do it.
In last season’s finale and the second game of this season, the Jaguars outscored the Colts by a combined 50-11. This includes a Week 2 win against Indianapolis, in which the Jaguars allowed only 218 yards and forced three turnovers.
Last week, however, Jacksonville suffered a disappointing loss against the Texans despite allowing only 13 points. Quarterback Trevor Lawrence was especially disappointing, as he threw two interceptions that allowed the Texans to hang around.
While the Colts have struggled on offense recently, the defense has been the complete opposite. This unit was special in wins against the Chiefs and last week against the Broncos. Against Denver, the Colts didn’t allow a single touchdown, and made huge plays in the red zone to secure the victory. Leading the way was former defensive player of the year, Stephon Gilmore. In the win against Denver, Gilmore had an interception late in regulation to keep the score at 9-6, and then he knocked down a fourth-down pass in overtime to secure the victory.
Caesars Sportsbook has listed the Colts as a 2-point favorite with an over/under of 42.
Let’s take a closer look at the odds and trends:
Jacksonville Jaguars at Indianapolis Colts
Time/TV: 1 p.m. ET Sunday, CBS
Point spread (from Caesars Sportsbook): Indianapolis -2
Money line: Jacksonville +115, Indianapolis -135
Analysis: In the first game against Indianapolis, Lawrence played arguably his best game as a pro. He threw for 235 yards and two touchdowns while completing 83% (25 of 30) of his passes. However, in the Jaguars’ two most recent games, he completed only 51.4% (36 of 70). One bright spot on offense was Travis Etienne, who finished with 114 yards (71 rushing, 43 receiving) on 13 total touches against the Texans.
Right now, there seems to be only one way for the Colts to win and it is in a defensive struggle. The Colts have scored 20 points twice in a game this year, with less than 10 points in two of their five games. Matt Ryan still hasn’t got things rolling in Indianapolis and has been very loose when it comes to taking care of the ball. He has 11 fumbles in five games and is on pace to shatter the mark set by Kerry Collins and Daunte Culpepper (23 fumbles; Ryan is on pace for 38). To make matters worse, Ryan is also leading the league in interceptions (seven) and times sacked (21).
One factor that will help the Colts offense is the return of running back Jonathan Taylor, who is practicing this week after missing the Denver game with toe and ankle injuries.
These two teams are right in the middle of the AFC South, and this division looks like it will be very competitive. The defenses are playing great for both teams, and the offenses have left a lot to be desired. The under is a very appetizing.
Prediction: Indianapolis 17, Jacksonville 14