Indianapolis Colts (2-1, 2-1 ATS) at Jacksonville Jaguars (1-2, 1-2 ATS), Week 4 NFL, Sunday October 3rd, 4:05PM Eastern EverBank Field Jacksonville, F.L.
By Jay Horne, Professional Sports Handicapper of Predictem.com
Betting Odds: Indy -7.5/Jax +7.5
The Jacksonville Jaguars get the luxury of host Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts this Sunday at EverBank Field. The Jaguars have gotten off to a slow start with back to back losses from San Diego and Philadelphia. The Jaguars problems have been for the larger majority on the offensive side of the ball where they are averaging just 277 yards per game in their opening 3 games. Only Carolina and Buffalo have produced less yards in their opening 3 contests. Needless to say that is not good news when the Colt’s and Manning roll into town this weekend.
At the moment, the Colts rank 3rd in the league averaging 412 yards per game while ranking 2nd in the NFL with 29.7 points per contest as well. QB Peyton Manning has been remarkable throwing for 1,013 yards, 9 touchdowns, and 0 picks in his first 3 starts. In fact, Manning’s 116.9 QB Rating is head and shoulders above all other NFL starters. Therefore it is safe to say the Jaguars defense will have their hands full. Jacksonville has already surrendered 289 yards per game through the air this season and on paper this simply appears to be a big mismatch.
However, Jacksonville historically plays the Colts very well and was one of the only teams to nearly beat Indianapolis in regular season action last year before the Colts pulled most their starts for the final two games which resulted in their only regular season losses. The Jaguars lost by a combined 6 points in their 2 losses to the Colts and they will not be satisfied with another “close” defeat again this year. Still, Jacksonville will have to get a much better effort out of their supporting cast than they have through the first 3 games this season. QB David Garrard has really struggled completing just 59.5% for 448 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 5 picks so far this season. Those are hardly numbers to keep a starting job, but the Jaguars do not have much backing up Garrard considering Luke McCown is on the injury reserve with a torn ACL.
Therefore, it will be up to Garrard to get the job done through the passing game. Running back Maurice Jones-Drew has proven to be a very effective runner over the past few seasons but he has also got off to a slow start. Jones-Drew has rushed the ball 57 times for just 217 yards while holding a 3.8 yards per carry average. Jones-Drew finished the season last year averaging just less than 5 yards per carry and his slow start may very well reflect the lack of success in the passing game which has drawn defenses more close to the Jaguars backfield. Still, Jacksonville has guys in place to be effective throwing the football. Tight end Marcedes Lewis had a big game against San Diego and does a good job to find open space in the opposing secondary. Also, WR Mike Sims-Walker is another solid target on the outside that has just failed to get going with the rest of the offense. The Jaguars are hoping all these guys can get on the same page together this Sunday.
On the other side of the field, the Colts offense will definitely look to take advantage of a shaky Jacksonville defense. We already talked about how sharp Peyton Manning has been throwing the football, but the emergence of WR Austin Collie has really propelled the offense. Collie leads the NFL with 359 receiving yards on the season with 4 touchdowns to his resume. Not only has Collie emerged as a playmaker, but that is bound to open things up for WR Reggie Wayne who is normally the targeted playmaker for defenses in the passing game. Wayne has 16 catches for 260 yards and 2 touchdowns this season as well. While Collie has eaten up yardage in the passing game, Wayne is still the game changer.
On defense the Colts have been pretty fair despite being on the field more than most defenses in the NFL. For numbers, the Colts defense has given up 377 yards and 20.3 points per game. Now that Colts defense has still pretty solid up front and I believe they will need to be against Jones-Drew running the football. However despite the Colts surrendering some yardage this season, they have still done a good job in their pass rush. The Colts defense has recorded 7 sacks on the season and has consistently been able to apply pressure to opposing quarterbacks. The pressure the Colts get up front will definitely determine if Jaguars QB David Garrard can get any type of rhythm throwing the football. If they do manage to get a lot of pressure, it will make things very difficult for the Jaguars to move the ball on the ground alone.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Throw out everything you see on paper, the Jaguars will give a valiant effort to avoid falling to a 1-3 hole. Jacksonville always plays the Colts well and has not lost by more than 1 score in the last 5 meetings. Jacksonville shares the AFC South with the Colts so these two teams know each other pretty well and I believe the Jaguars will give the Colts a very hard time again this Sunday and get the money.
Be sure to check out our Monday night football picks as it’s usually one of the strongest on our card!