Game Scout: Colts at Jaguars

Get all the info you need before the Colts kick off their Thursday night battle in Jacksonville here!

KICKOFF: Thursday, 8:20 ET
SURFACE: Grass
TV: NFL Network (Bob Papa, Matt Millen)
PREDICTION: Colts 23-20

KEYS TO THE GAME: Little should come as a surprise between two division rivals on a short week. Colts coach Jim Caldwell said he will play his starters despite having home-field advantage locked up, and Indianapolis will attack Jacksonville's 26th-ranked pass defense.

The Jaguars don't rush the passer well and Colts QB Peyton Manning should have plenty of time to survey his options even if RB Joseph Addai is bottled up. Jacksonville has struggled of late with its own ground game, but needs to give RB Maurice Jones-Drew an opportunity to control the tempo.

QB David Garrard doesn't receive great pass protection and the Jaguars must dominate time of possession. If Garrard can work effectively off play-action, the Colts' injury-depleted secondary is vulnerable.

FAST FACTS: The Colts are 37-10 in divisional play since 2005. ... Jones-Drew has averaged just 69 rushing yards the past four games.

INSIDE THE CAMPS
Colts:

The Colts have had pretty good success in the past playing games on a short week. Coach Jim Caldwell is hopeful they are able to continue that against Jacksonville.

"I just think that short weeks are good because of the fact that they really make you narrow your focus in terms of preparation," he said. "Whereas when you have a little bit more time on your hands, sometimes you're willing to add a couple more plays here or maybe a couple more defensive looks here or maybe a variety of plays in your kicking game.

"When you only have a couple of days to get ready, you really have to narrow it down to the plays that you're actually going to use in the ballgame and you don't have an opportunity to dream up a whole bunch of scenarios. Your preparation is pretty good on short weeks."

Since the Colts haven't played Jacksonville since the opening week of the season, the game plan from that game is basically useless.

"You have to go into it a little bit differently," Caldwell said. "They're doing a few things a little different. So we'll take a fresh new look at them. We started a little bit last week because we knew we would have a short week. They present some problems for you."

Jaguars:

The Jaguars don't want to just play the role of spoiler Thursday night.

They can end the Colts' bid for a perfect season and end their 22-game regular-season winning streak. But that's not what is on their mind as they prepare to meet the 13-0 Colts.

The Jaguars are fighting for their playoff survival.

They're 7-6 after a 14-10 loss to Miami but are still in control of their own destiny. If they win the final three games against the Colts, Patriots and Browns, they're in.

If they lose one of them, they'd have slightly better than a 50-50 chance to get in at 9-7, but they'd no longer be in control of their own destiny.

Quarterback David Garrard said, "I think it would just mean more to get the win and continue to give ourselves a chance for that dream of getting into the playoffs. Ending their streak is just part of it. That would be pretty cool, too, because everybody could talk about it, but really it would be getting this win (that's important) because we know this gives us an even greater chance of getting into the playoffs."

The Jaguars gave the Colts a tough game in Indianapolis in the opener, losing 14-12. And coach Jack Del Rio said he never expected the Colts to be 13-0 at this point.

Garrard said he doesn't even think it matters that Colts coach Jim Caldwell said he's going to play his starters even though the Colts have clinched the conference's top seed.

"I think it's really about us executing our plays so we can get a win against whoever they have on the field," he said.

This game also is important for the future of the franchise.

A civic group has led a drive to sell all the non-premium seats, so it'll be the first time the local TV blackout has been lifted this year.

And the city is sponsoring a $150,000 party before the game to celebrate the fact that Jacksonville has an NFL team.

The Jaguars hope they can cap the night with a victory that would keep their destiny in their own hands.


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