With the playoff race running at full capacity amongst NFL teams, how does the game between the Jaguars and the Colts play out this weekend?
According to Andrew Walker of Colts.com, head coach Frank Reich made that announcement on Friday, which means the Jaguars secondary will not face two of their AFC South opponent’s biggest weapons. It could also mean the Colts, 5-4 this season and in second place in the division, could rely on the running game this week to take some of the pressure off Brissett, who returns this week from an MCL injury.
The Jaguars have not fared well against the run this season, ranking 22nd per teamrankings.com. Having linebackers Quincy Williams, Najee Goode and Leon Jacobs back in the lineup this week could make a difference in how defensive coordinator Todd Wash plans to attack his opponent’s run game.
The Jaguars may also see Jake Ryan for the first time on the field this week after missing all of the offseason and the first 10 weeks of this year. If anything, it means more depth to a unit that has been exposed at times this year in pass coverage and helping to stop the run.
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This past week, I had the chance to talk with Jake Arthur, who covers the NFL Draft and Fantasy Football for Colts.com about the upcoming game between two rivals fighting to remain in the playoff hunt. Indianapolis and Jacksonville have a storied history that has been more one-sided since Doug Marrone took over the head coaching duties here in Jacksonville.
Here is what Arthur had to say about Sunday’s matchup.
Although he was a full participant in practice Wednesday, is there any reason for the Colts to be concerned about quarterback Jacoby Brissett‘s knee injury?
The safety and long-term health of the player is always put first, so there shouldn’t be much concern if Brissett is playing this week. Coach Reich said earlier in the week that as long as Brissett practiced fully on Wednesday, which he did, that he would likely start this Sunday, barring any setbacks. Brissett has practiced fully all week as of Thursday.
How does the defense of scheme change for Indianapolis now that they are facing Nick Foles? Does Frank Reich’s familiarity with his former quarterback give the Colts an advantage?
I don’t think the scheme changes this week because of [Nick] Foles. I think the Colts just play their game, regardless of opponent. Now, there are some opponents where certain things might be tweaked, but I don’t imagine the Jaguars will be one where much change is made. The Colts will operate out of their base 4-3 defense with quite a bit of nickel and dime mixed in. The Colts play much more man coverage now than the last time they faced Jacksonville.
Which pass rusher between Josh Allen and Yannick Ngakoue should your defense be concerned about more and why?
[Josh] Allen is a freak and there was no reason not to love him coming into the draft, but [Yannick] Ngakoue has a proven track record of terrorizing the Colts. In six career games against the Colts, he has 5.5 sacks, which is the most he has against any team. On top of that, he also has six tackles for loss, a forced fumble, and an interception.
Who needs to have a huge game on offense for Indianapolis to win on Sunday? Why?
I think the easy answer here is Marlon Mack. If you look at what Christian McCaffrey and Carlos Hyde did against the Jaguars’ defense this season, they were obvious catalysts for wins for their teams over the Jags. The Colts’ offense is at its best when the run game is firing on all cylinders.
The Colts will win on Sunday if?
If they clean up the mistakes that have plagued them the last few weeks. Since Week 8, the Colts have committed 20 penalties and seven turnovers. Not to diminish the accomplishments of their opponents, but when the Colts lose, they often cause much of their own self-inflicted wounds.