Jaguars hope to wrangle the Colts: Three bold predictions
By David Levin
Sunday’s game at Indianapolis may be the most important one of the season for the Jacksonville Jaguars in their playoff quest.
The best thing the Jacksonville Jaguars can do coming out of the bye week is to win on Sunday. There isn’t any mythical formula to beating the Indianapolis Colts other than this franchise knows if it wants to remain in the playoff picture winning on the road in a tough environment is necessary.
The Jaguars are 4-5 and currently 10th in the AFC standings. The Tennessee Titans are 5-5 and one spot ahead of them. Indianapolis, 5-4, is currently seventh in the conference and the first team out of the playoff picture. A lot can change on Sunday as this game not only affects the two teams on the field but the ones fighting to make the postseason.
Regardless of where the Jaguars sit at the moment, they are part of the playoff discussion, something that wasn’t a thought at this point last season. With Nick Foles making his return from injury, the team is as healthy as it has been in some time and the roster appearing to be stronger as a unit, this is a team that may be ready for a march through the seven games remaining on their schedule.
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It all begins in Indianapolis. I know it’s something various people and websites, including Black and Teal, have mentioned many times this week. Here are three bold predictions for Sunday’s game.
St. Nick’s November to remember – Foles has been a player on fire in the month of November and December the past two seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles. He shows he is that same player on Sunday in his return from injury for the Jaguars.
In his first game back since playing just 10 snaps this season, Foles throws for 400 yards and three touchdowns in the win on the road against the Colts.
"“It’s harder; it’s a lot harder,” Foles said about playing in the last two months of the season. “Guys have been playing for a long time. More is on the line. Offenses and teams and cultures have been developed. Each year a team develops a culture. It doesn’t matter if you have 90 percent of the team returning; that [other] 10 percent will affect the culture. At this point, cultures have really been created.”"
Foles now walks back into an offense that has been used to Gardner Minshew under center for half the season. It’s a challenge he welcomes this week.
"“That’s the biggest challenge of stepping back in there and just playing football. It has been a while, but I look forward to the challenge because of the guys I get to step in the huddle with and being on the sidelines.”"
Josh Oliver gets into the end zone – Rookie Josh Oliver has the biggest game of his abbreviated season on Sunday. The San Jose State star catches seven passes, two of them for touchdowns.
The lack of use of the tight end in the Jaguars has been evident since James O’Shaughnessy went down with a knee injury. Geoff Swaim is also on the injured reserve, which has limited the use of the position on passing down. Oliver, who will be playing in just his third game this season on Sunday, is someone who can help the passing game in the second half of the season.
With Foles back on the field this week, look for Oliver to see more targets in Indianapolis.
"“We want to see more and more from [Oliver] each week and he has been doing a very good job,” head coach Doug Marrone said when he talked to the media on Wednesday. “I think that can help us because it will give us another guy that we believe can make plays. Is anything going to be forced to anyone? No. That’s not how Nick operates and that’s not how we want to operate – where we say, ‘We’re forcing the ball to his guy.’”"
Six Sacks on the Day – The Jaguars are well aware of the fact the Indianapolis Colts have one of the best offensive lines in football. It presents a unique challenge for this team’s pass rush on Sunday.
"“I think they’re darn close [to the best]. I think their GM, and their coaching staff’s done a great job. A year ago, we said, ‘Hey, they’re building this thing around [Andrew] Luck, and they’re starting with it upfront to protect him.’ And they’re doing the same thing now,” Todd Wash said when he addressed the media on Thursday afternoon.“If you’re strong upfront on both sides of the football, you have a chance each and every Sunday. Obviously, their center in [Ryan] Kelly, their left guard [Quenton Nelson] is as good as there is in football. He does a nice job in pass protection; he can grade you out at the point of attack and he’s really good at pulling.”"
Even with the solid play across the line, I believe the trio of Calais Campbell, Yannick Ngakoue and Josh Allen make it a tough day for Jacoby Brissett. Each defensive lineman has two sacks on Sunday afternoon.