Monday, October 22nd, 2007, 8:30 p.m.
Jacksonville Municipal Stadium
Kickoff Temperature: 69 degrees
Line: Colts by 3.5
Records: Indianapolis 5-0, first place in the AFC South, Jacksonville 4-1, second place in the AFC South
On Monday night, the Jaguars will play their biggest game on Florida soil since the AFC Championship game on January 23, 2000. This national stage showdown is for first place in the AFC South, and will serve as a fantastic measuring stick for a Jaguars team who has imposed their will and dominated opponents ever since the second week of the regular season. The Colts are arguably a better team than they were last season, when they exorcised their playoff demons and finally won their first Super Bowl since moving to Indianapolis. This game will decide whether the Jaguars are a division title contender, or if they will be fighting for a wild-card spot.
Five most important things for the Jaguars:
1. Knock them off the line of scrimmage. Everyone in the stadium knows that the Jaguars will try and run the football, and the Colts will sell out to try and stop the run. The Colts defense was embarrassed less than 11 months ago on this field by the Jaguars, and they will do whatever it takes to keep from suffering a similar fate. The Jaguars only chance in this game is to run the football effectively.
2. Put points on the scoreboard early. The Indianapolis defense goes from above average to great when the Colts are playing with the lead. The Jaguars need to put points on the scoreboard early on to keep from being one dimensional.
3. Stop Joseph Addai. Addai appears to be much quicker this year, and if he has success running the football, the Colts play-action is even more lethal. If Addai has better than 75 yards, it will be very difficult for the Jaguars to win this game.
4. Win special teams. This may be the only area of the game in which the Jaguars have a decided advantage. The Jaguars must cover their kicks well, make their field goals, and get a big return. In the first game between these two last year, the Jaguars allowed a punt return for a touchdown and missed two field goals. Even after all that, the Colts margin of victory was only 7.
5. Use the atmosphere to your advantage. This could be the most hyped regular season game in Jaguars history. The crowd will be loud and emotions will be high. The Jaguars need to feed off that energy.
1. Look for the Colts to abandon their cover two defense and play a cover one. The Colts will try and make a statement early on to stop the run. This should lead to some one on one coverage on the outside, and their could be some big plays in the passing game.
2. Look for lots of Dallas Clark in the passing game. Teams playing the Jaguars are going after Sammy Knight early and often. The Colts will try to get Dallas Clark in a match-up with Knight which would be very favorable to Indianapolis.
3. Look for yet another Maurice Jones-Drew touchdown celebration. MJD has scored in each of the two games he's played against the Colts, and he's beginning to run very well behind that powerful Jaguars offensive line. Look for him to find pay dirt at least one time in this game.
4. Look for more than one fourth down conversion attempt. With John Carney having limited range with his field goals, Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio will likely once again roll the dice on fourth down.
5. Look for Manning to Harrison. Even though Marvin Harrison has been injured, he's been fantastic against the Jaguars, and Rashean Mathis in particular. It seems like each and every time these two teams get together, Harrison beats Mathis deep. With the Jaguars having major question marks at the safety positions, expect the Colts to take some shots.
Charlie Bernstein is the Editor-in-Chief of Jagnation.com, and a regular syndicated contributor to FoxSports.com, Sirius NFL Radio, and Sportsillustated.com. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers Association, and is a columnist for the New Smyrna Observer.