2. While everybody's talking about Fred Taylor's physical running ability against Indy's run defense, don't be surprised to see him make some plays as a receiver out of the backfield. He's currently third on the team in receptions with nine for 70 yards. The Jaguars have used their big wide receivers -- Reggie Williams and Matt Jones -- very effectively, relying on shorter passes and letting them use their size and strength to tack on yardage. Steelers defensive back Deshea Townsend told our Steelers affiliate, SteelCityInsider.com, that the Jaguars used the "Now" pass -- where Byron Leftwich just takes a step back and immediately throws it -- extensively during the game, and if the Steelers would have wrapped up the receivers, they would have been minimized to two- or three-yard completions. You can be sure that the Colts noticed that this week and will be doing all they can to wrap up those big receivers immediately. If they succeed, the Jaguars will have to abandon that strategy as they won't be able to afford to settle for minimal yardage out of their passing game. One other factor that'll be important in this area is that Matt Jones has been held back this week by a groin problem that's kept him out of all three days of practice. He's listed as questionable on Friday's injury report.
3. The last time Marvin Harrison faced the Jaguars in December, he caught six passes for 137 yards and 2 TDs. He's already exceeded the 100-yard receiving mark in his first two outings, and Reggie Wayne also accomplished the feat last weekend. The Jaguars' defense is on a tear though. They've snared five interceptions during the first two weeks. LCB Rashean Mathis, who will be covering Harrison most of the day has three of those five picks. Linebackers Mike Peterson and Nick Greisen have the other two. Just who ends up catching the ball once it leaves Manning's hands is going to be pivotal in this contest.
4. Sheesh, talk about a clash of the titans (even though Jeff Fisher, Vince Young and their crew will be nowhere in sight) take a look at this matchup between the Colts offense and the Jaguars defense. The Colts offense comes into this game number one in the league in passing yards per game (331), first downs per game (28), third-down conversion percentage (71%), field goals made (100%, tied for first), and the ever-so-important points per game (34.5). Meanwhile, Jacksonville's defense comes in tied for 1st in red zone effectiveness (0%) and goal-to-go situations (0%), second in the league in interceptions (5), tied for second in first downs/game allowed (11.5), and third in yards per game allowed (238).
5. After that first note above, I'll bet you're wondering what the Colts offense's tendency is on 1st-and-10. Remember the days when Colts fans would bemoan the fact that the Colts always seemed to run on first down? Well, so far when the 2006 Colts are in their own half of the field, chances are two out of three that they'll be throwing the ball. Yep, you read that right. They've only run 35 percent of the time on 1st-and-10 prior to reaching the 50-yard line. But once they get past midfield, it's a crapshoot. They run 53 percent of the time and pass 47 percent of the time. And he's a real oddity for you. If the Colts are penalized on first down and are faced with a situation where they have to make more than 10 yards? They run the ball. One hundred percent of the time so far.
6. For as scary the coverage units looked during the preseason, they've certainly gotten off to a good start. Indy is ranked 11th in punt return average so are (6.0 yards) and 12th in kickoff coverage (21.1 average).
7. While you're watching the game, pay attention if the Colts stop the Jaguars on first down for no gain, because predicting the next play gets easier. The Jags will call for a pass in that situation almost 80% of the time. So if you see the Jags face a 2nd-and-10, take a look to see if the Colts have Marlin Jackson on the field as the nickel back. They should, or someone wasn't paying attention.
8. The Jaguars have a terrific defense, but so did they last year when Peyton Manning threw for 324 yards and 2 TDs in Jacksonville to clinch the AFC South. Manning is the only QB in the NFL after the first two games to post a 400-yard passing game. And he's one of just 11 who has thrown for 300+ yards during one of his first two outings.
9. How important is Adam Vinatieri for this game? Well consider the fact that in the Colts' victory last December against Jacksonville former kicker Mike Vanderjagt successfully booted four field goals to help the Colts win 26-18. And while the Colts appear to think that Martin Grammatica -- a veteran who couldn't even land Vinatieri's old job in New England -- is the guy to call on if Vinatieri can't play, I hope we never have to find out if they're right. If this game is lost by a missed field goal by Grammatica, a whole lot of folks are going to wonder why the team didn't call rookie Shane Andrus this week -- the guy who sent Grammatica packing after the two of them battled it out during a head-to-head tryout earlier this year.
10. As mentioned briefly above, the Colts head into this weekend's game leading the league in third-down conversion percentage, making a first-down 71 percent of the time. That's just out of this world, folks. Only one other team in the NFL has converted more than 50 percent (Philadelphia with 52 percent). How are the Colts doing it? Easy. They're putting the ball in their franchise quarterback's hands practically every time they face more than a 3rd-and-1 situation. On 3rd-and-2, they pass 75 percent of the time. If they need more than two yards and the down marker has a big 3 on it, they've thrown the ball every time so far.