There were a lot of ups and downs, but the Jacksonville Jaguars have finally reached the last game of the 2013 NFL season. Head Coach Gus Bradley had a rough start to his career during the first half of the season, but over the last 7 games he has arguably done the best coaching job in the NFL. This Sunday they face Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts – the newly crowned AFC South champions. The Jaguars are shorthanded thanks to several key players being shut down for the year, but several young players have emerged and are trying to cement themselves as contributors in 2014. Still, the Jaguars are going to need some help, so we asked our friends over at Naptown’s Finest some questions about the matchup. Here’s what editor Jeremy Nicholas had to say.
1. As his second season comes to a close, has Andrew Luck progressed enough for you to not worry about him at all going into 2014?
The Colts have lost two starting running backs, one starting tight end, one starting offensive lineman, and Reggie Wayne this year. After all of that, Luck has put up better stats this year than last, except for passing yardage. If this team rebuilds healthy, it’s going to be something to see.
2. Which rookie has impressed you the most in 2013?
The 2013 rookie class for the Colts hasn’t looked too impressive. Injury and poor performance has hit this team on both sides of the ball. To be honest, the brightest spot on this rookie squad has been undrafted rookie WR – Griff Whalen. Whalen played with Luck at Stanford, and has been bounced back-and-forth from the roster to the practice squad all season. Recently, Whalen has been a big boom on the offense and special teams. Whalen has been playing the slot spot, as well as returning kicks. He has totally earned his position on this team.
3. The Colts have been pretty inconsistent over the second half of the season. Can the defense play well enough for the Colts to make a run deep into the playoffs?
The defense looked totally horrid during the middle of the season, but has stepped up recently. The Colts have only allowed ten total points over their last two games, and have been playing up to their potential. Indianapolis is getting at least one home game, and if the defense can show up strong, it could push them into a match in the second round, against the New England Patriots or Denver Broncos. The defense is on an upswing right now, and OLB – Robert Mathis may be the NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
4. Besides Andrew Luck, which player is most important to the Colts heading into the postseason?
Once again, Robert Mathis. In his 11th year, Mathis is breaking records all over. Mathis has a Indianapolis-record 17.5 sacks this season, as well as a team-record 109 career sacks. If Big Bob can get into the opposing team’s backfield, then he will bring the pain.
5. What’s your prediction for this Sunday’s game?
The Jaguars have been fighting well recently, and always give the Colts a tough time at Lucas Oil Stadium. I believe this team has showed toughness, since starting 0-8. Mojo Drew has dominated the Colts during his career, but this game may be the last time we see him in a Jaguars uniform. Still, the Colts want to enter the postseason on a roll, and the crowd will be crazy.Colts 26 Jags 17
– Daniel Lago
Yell at me on Twitter @dlago89