Indianapolis needs this game. They’re coming off of a win against San Diego, a team who crushed Jacksonville 2 weeks ago. By the same token, big news hit the AFC South earlier in the week when it was announced that J.J. Watt, the best defensive player in the league, was likely going to be out for the season with a back injury he aggravated in last week's game against the Patriots. The chance to enter next week 2-2 following an 0-2 start, possibly tied with the Texans for the division lead will not be lost on them.
On offense, the Colts’ gameplan will probably be pretty simple; protect Andrew Luck and watch him work.
It’s a task that is much easier said than done. The Colts are notorious for having a bad offensive line, and it doesn’t help that both the starting right guard (Denzelle Good) and right tackle (Joe Reitz) could miss the game. If that were the case, they would be forced to start two rookies in their place, making a total of three rookies on the offensive line. Not to mention, Jacksonville’s defensive line isn’t that bad.
In addition to keeping a back in the backfield to help the line protect Luck, they’ll attempt (attempt being the operative word here) to establish the running game against a defense in Jacksonville that has been rather unremarkable against the run thus far. If the Colts can even manage to run the ball at all, it would make Luck’s life significantly easier.
In the passing game, the most interesting matchup will probably be T.Y. Hilton being covered by Jalen Ramsey (if Jacksonville decides to put their best defensive player on the Colts' leading wideout), who is starting to make waves around the league with his play (and his talk). Thus far, Ramsey has proven to be a bright spot on this team. Hilton is the leading receiver for the Colts this year, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see that matchup happen.
In the event they decide to throw away from Ramsey, which might not be such a bad idea considering that Jacksonville’s defensive backfield hasn’t performed well at times, you could see the Colts start to target Phillip Dorsett, who averages 18.9 yards per catch this year.
As far as defense goes for the Colts, they have to do whatever they can to get a pass rush going and get in Bortles' face. It's asking a lot for a team that doesn't have much of a defense, but if they can at least put pressure on Bortles, they'll come out of this game a lot better. Bortles has shown that pressuring him can cause him to make critical mistakes. Last week against Baltimore, Bortles took 2 inexcusable sacks near the end of the game, and also threw a pair of interceptions in the fourth quarter.
It benefits the Colts that the Jaguars run game has been non existent thus far this year. They average 55 yards on the ground per game, and Bortles is second on the team with 53 yards on 8 carries. T.J. Yeldon has 84 yards on 34 carries. Jacksonville can't run the ball, if the Colts can hold their rushing offense, it would force Jacksonville to throw the ball, and then they could pressure Bortles to their heart's content.
The last time these two teams played, Jacksonville dropped 51 on Indianapolis. You can count on the fact that the Colts remember that, and are probably motivated to pay the Jaguars back in kind.null