Jaguars Approaching Crossroad

The Jaguars' game against the Indianapolis Colts Sunday will define their season.

If the 8-3 Jaguars, who beat the Buffalo Bills 36-14 last Sunday, upset the 10-2 Colts, they will be tied for first place in the AFC South with four games remaining in the season and will have a shot at winning the division title.

If they lose, they'll likely have to settle for a wild-card spot because they'd be two games behind the Colts and would lose the tie-breaker because the Colts would have a sweep. The Colts beat the Jaguars, 29-7, in the first game.

But beating the Colts in Indianapolis will be a tough task. They Jaguars are 1-5 in Indianapolis since they played their first game there in 2000 and are 2-5 in their last seven games against the Colts.

The Jaguars have problems stopping the Colts offense. Peyton Manning has scored 29, 17, 21, 26, 10, 24, 24, 23, 23, 20 and 28 and 43 against the Jaguars in the last 12 games between the two clubs since 2000. The Colts are 9-3 in those 12 games.

Throwing out the 10- and 43-point games, Manning has been very consistent against the Jaguars defense, scoring between 17 and 28 points in the other 10 games.

In the first game between the two teams this year, Manning completed 23 of 37 passes for 259 yards and one touchdown and one interception.

The Jaguars stayed in their base defense and didn't blitz much and Manning was patient and put together three 11-play scoring drives while scoring 17 points in the first half.

The Jaguars, who sacked Manning only twice, will need to put more pressure on him in this game to keep him from getting in a rhythm.

The Jaguars also have to compensate for the loss of two defenders who played in the first game, middle linebacker Mike Peterson and defensive tackle Marcus Stroud.

Peterson is out with a broken hand and Stroud is serving a four-game suspension for violating the steroids policy.

The Jaguars also played Buffalo without cornerback Rashean Mathis, who has a groin injury, and they're not certain if he'll be back for the Colts.

On the other hand, the Colts won't have pass rusher Dwight Freeney, who's out for the year.

The Jaguars also will need a good game from quarterback David Garrard, who suffered a high ankle sprain in the second period of the first game. Although he came back in for a series in the second period, he missed the second half of that game and the next three games.

Garrard completed 8 of 12 plays for 72 yards before he left while Quinn Gray was ineffective in relief as he completed only 9 of 24 for 56 yards and threw two interceptions.

Even though the Jaguars rushed for 375 yards while beating the Colts, 44-17, the Jaguars came out passing in the first game last year and Fred Taylor gained only 55 yards and Maurice Drew only 52.

The Jaguars know they have to play better than they did against Buffalo when they scored just one touchdown on five trips to the red zone.

They were hanging onto a 22-14 lead before they scored two touchdowns in the final three minutes.


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