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NFL 2017 Week 7: Jacksonville Jaguars vs Indianapolis Colts preview and prediction

The AFC South is wide open. Can someone grab an advantage this weekend?


The Jaguars went into the “Hype Bowl” against the Rams and lost thanks to a terrible day from the special teams. The Rams took the opening kickoff back to the house, and then in the final three minutes of the half they blocked a punt for a touchdown too. Those 14 points were all the difference despite the best efforts of Leonard Fournette and the defense.

Indy took on the Titans on Monday night and went toe-to-toe with them for three and a half quarters until the Titans exploded. Jacoby Brissett and the ground game were clicking for the Colts, as the team went at 5.6 yards a carry with Frank Gore and Marlon Mack while Brissett spread the ball around well. Unfortunately, the defense just couldn’t sustain and the Titans ran them over in the fourth.

Keeping the ball out of Bortles’ hands

The Jaguars are 3-3 this season, with two of their wins coming with Blake Bortles throwing for fewer than 150 yards. Their success is entirely predicated on the defense and their electric ground game, and they have to maintain the game plan of not letting Bortles hurt them.

Speed kills

The Jaguars secondary has been astronomically good so far this season, but they are yet to meet a player like TY Hilton. The speedster hasn’t formed a consistent connection with Jacoby Brissett so far this season, but he still leads the team in receptions (25), yards (485), and has one trip to the endzone.

His breakaway speed is the one thing that Jalen Ramsey and AJ Bouye can’t really practice against, meaning that feeding Hilton is the one thing the Colts could do to cause serious problems for them.

Turnover battle

The Jaguars are an NFL-best +10 in turnovers this season, however Bortles has been prone to an interception or two. The Colts are right in the middle of the pack when it comes to takeaways, but if they can snag a few on Sunday and hold the turnover battle even then Jacksonville could struggle to put up the kind of points totals they have become accustomed to.

Matchup to Watch: Calais Campbell vs Anthony Castonzo

When Campbell left Arizona’s 3-4 to come to the Jaguars 4-front it was unclear where he would play and the impact he would have. That impact has been made crystal clear now. He leads the team in sacks with eight, he leads the NFL in QB hits with 15. He has been killing left tackles with his surprising speed, his power, and most especially his incomparable length. Then, when the opposition is in 3rd and long he kicks inside and rains down fire on the guard. Contending with Campbell’s red-hot form will be the Colts solid-but-unspectacular left tackle Anthony Castonzo. He is unlikely to get much help given the threats posed on the rest of the Jags defensive line, so he will need to be at his absolute best to keep Brissett’s back clean.

Fantasy Tip: Colts RB Marlon Mack

The Jags pass defense is incredible, but their run defense has been less than impressive so far this season. The Colts should find some success on the ground, and Frank Gore can’t take all the carries. Marlon Mack has looked explosive and dynamic so far this season, providing a good change of pace. If you are struggling to fill a gap in your team or are looking for a cheap back in DFS then Mack could be your guy.

Betting Tip: Jaguars (-3)

Road favorites are tough to back, but the Jags defense is going to be too much for the Colts to handle. It won’t happen immediately, but I would expect the second half to be a bloodbath as Campbell and co. crush Brissett and allow the offense great field position to score from.

Prediction: Jaguars 27 – 13 Colts

The Colts defense is better than it has been, but they are not prepared for the duo of Fournette and Chris Ivory, and Brissett is most certainly not ready for the tag team of the pass rush and secondary that he will be facing either. This one could get ugly.



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Toby Durant

A passionate and opinionated writer, I am currently the NFL editor for RealSport. However, I also contribute to F1, WWE, Football, and other sections of the site, and I have covered the NFL International Series for RealSport and previously contributed to SB Nation.

 

I also have 10 years playing and coaching experience in American football, starting at the University of Nottingham and including a stint as defensive coordinator at Oxford Brookes University. I may be a Patriots fan but all aspects of the sport interest me, from guard play to special teams.

NFL 2017 Week 7: Jacksonville Jaguars vs Indianapolis Colts preview and prediction

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