This AFC South clash has so much on the line for both teams here. The Colts will be looking to stay atop of the division, while moving back onto a winning record. They will have to do so without not only Andrew Luck, but potentially Matt Hasselbeck, who’s steady play and chain-moving ability kept the Colts afloat on rough seas for much of the season. If the veteran Hasselbeck can’t go, the quarterback reigns will be in the hands of ‘Clipboard Jesus’ Charlie Whitehurst, so named because he looks, well, like Jesus, and is famed for being a career backup in the NFL. Currently. the Colts are tied for first on a 6-6 record. The Jaguars will enter this game knowing that a loss will all-but-end their fading playoff hopes. They are already down on the tiebreaker to the Colts, having lost to them earlier in the season. However, a win for Jacksonville suddenly makes the AFC South water a little murkier, with them potentially being only one game behind both the Colts and Texans after Sunday. They are sitting third in the division at 5-7 on the year.
Three Keys to the Game
Blake Bortles vs Matt Hasselbeck/Charlie Whitehurst
This game will most likely come down to which quarterback moves the chains constantly while avoiding the big turnovers. Bortles is coming off arguably his best game of the season, where he threw five touchdown passes to no interceptions, in a loss to the Titans. Flanked by running back T.J Yeldon, and by the wide receiving ‘Allen’ duo of Robinson and Hurns, Bortles has a ton of offensive firepower at his disposal. Meanwhile, Hasslebeck or Whitehurst will be relying on T.Y Hilton and Andre Johnson to move the chains, hoping to combine for more than just the 11 first downs they managed last week against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Who handles the pressure better?
In a game with so much on the line for both teams, the winner may come down to who can hold their nerve more under pressure. Third down conversions, field goals, fourth down try’s will all play a big part on Sunday. With Indianapolis down to potentially their third-string quarterback, and the Jaguars being a young and untested team, both will be feeling the heat more than usual.
Jason Myers’ kicking.
Jaguars kicker Jason Myers missed two potential game-winning field goals against the Colts in Week 4. Since then, Myers has been almost automatic for the Jaguars, at least on field goals. He did miss two extra points last week against the Titans though, so it will be worth watching Myers’ efforts this week to see if he crumbles again, or rises to the occasion.
Match-up to watch
Frank Gore vs the Jaguars defensive line
The Jaguars have the third best run defense in the NFL in terms of yards per carry allowed, with just 3.6 yards given to other running backs on every rush. With Frank Gore and the Colts offensive struggling to run the ball all season long, this does not look like the matchup for that to change. With the game expected to go as down to the wire as their first meeting this year, a lack of running game will put even more pressure on Hasselbeck or Whitehurst.
This game is going to be close, one-score at best. Much will depends on if Hasslebeck can go for the Colts or not, as he presents a much better chance for them to nab the victory here. But, regardless of who plays for Indianapolis, I think the Jaguars exercise their demons from Week 4 and secure the victory in Jacksonville, hauling themselves back into the race for the AFC South.