Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Indianapolis Colts
Sunday, September 21, 2008, 4:15 pm
Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, IN
Records: Jacksonville 0-2, Indianapolis 1-1
Series history: Indianapolis leads 11-3. Last season: Indianapolis won both meetings, 29-7 in Jacksonville, and 28-25 in Indianapolis.
Indianapolis offense 18th overall (6th passing, 32nd rushing); Scoring- 23rd – 15.5 ppg. vs. Jacksonville defense 13th overall (16th passing, 18th rushing); Scoring- 11th- 18.5 ppg.
The Indianapolis Colts explosive offense has started out slowly in 2008, as Peyton Manning missed all of preseason and began the season rusty in a 29-13 loss to Chicago on opening weekend. Since, Manning has seemed to right the ship as he threw for better than 300 yards in a come from behind victory against Minnesota.
Teams have taken a bit of a different approach to the Colts this year as they're stacking up the line of scrimmage to stop dynamic running back Joseph Addai, who earned his first Pro Bowl selection a year ago. Addai has just 64 yards in two games.
On the outside, Indianapolis has perhaps the best trio of wide receivers in football, with Pro Bowler Reggie Wayne, future Hall of Famer Marvin Harrison, and slot-machine Anthony Gonzalez, who had a career high 137 yards receiving a week ago. Tight end Dallas Clark is among the handful of best tight ends in the game, but his status is uncertain as he was injured during week one.
The Colts offensive line has taken a bit of a hit, as many point the team's offensive problems to those injuries. Center Jeff Saturday hasn't played yet this season, and may miss Sunday's tilt with the Jaguars, and left tackle Tony Ugoh is also expected to be questionable.
Best offensive matchup for Indianapolis: Reggie Wayne/Marvin Harrison vs. Drayton Florence- Whichever receiver that will be lined up on the other side of Florence, the Colts will likely throw to. Florence has blown numerous coverages in the Jaguars first two games this season, and this looks like a complete mismatch.
Best defensive matchup for Jacksonville: John Henderson vs. Jamey Richard- If Jeff Saturday can't go or is less than 100%, it will be difficult for the Indianapolis center position to handle Jacksonville's two-time Pro Bowler. Henderson can be a game-changer, and the Jaguars defense should play with some desperation.
Jacksonville offense 29th overall (22nd passing, 28th rushing); Scoring- 25th, 13.0 ppg. vs. Indianapolis defense 16th overall (4th passing, 28th rushing); Scoring- T19th- 22.0 ppg.
The Jacksonville offense looks like a different unit from a year ago, as they are having major issues with running the football. The usual medicine for that is a trip to Indianapolis. Even with a patch-work offensive line, the Jaguars should still push around the smallest team in the NFL, and if they can develop a ground game, the play-action game should open up.
Jaguars quarterback David Garrard has been underwhelming in 2008, as he has already matched his interception total of a year ago (3). Garrard has been inaccurate and has made poor decisions as the Jaguars offense has one of the lowest third-down conversion rates in the NFL at just 28%. At this point it is unclear if WR Jerry Porter will play on Sunday, but Garrard still has Reggie Williams, Dennis Northcutt, a motivated Matt Jones, who led the team in receiving during week one, Mike Walker, and speedster Troy Williamson. Tight end Marcedes Lewis appears poised for a big season, and his 6'7" frame will cause big matchup problems for opposing linebackers or safeties.
The Indianapolis Colts have a small, quick defense that can get after the quarterback. The Colts defense is best when teams are forced to pass from a heavy deficit, as defensive ends Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis are lightning quick off the snap. The center of the Indy line is in a bit of disarray, as Ed Johnson was waived due to a drug arrest.
Matching up against the Jaguars wide receivers will be corners Marlin Jackson and Kelvin Hayden, with Tim Jennings entering in nickel situations. Safety Bob Sanders is the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, and Antoine Bethea can cover a lot of ground. Sanders will likely spend most of his time Sunday around the line of scrimmage as the Colts normally load up the box when playing Jacksonville.
Best offensive matchup for Jacksonville: The Jaguars offensive line vs. the Colts defensive line- Even with three new starters, the Jaguars line should move the Colts off the line of scrimmage and the running game should get going.
Best defensive matchup for Buffalo: Kelvin Hayden vs. Reggie Williams- Hayden is a very underrated corner, and Williams is a one-dimensional receiver, as his main route is the slant. Look for Hayden to play underneath Williams and force him to run to the outside.
Indianapolis: PK Adam Vinatieri, P Hunter Smith, LS Justin Snow, KOR Pierre Garcon, PR Justin Forsett/Keiwan Ratliff
Jacksonville: PK Josh Scobee, P Adam Podlesh, LS Joe Zelenka, KOR Maurice Jones-Drew/Brian Witherspoon, PR Dennis Northcutt/Brian Witherspoon
Special teams advantage: The Jaguars have a better coverage unit, and the more explosive return men. Kicker Adam Vinatieri is one of the most clutch kickers in NFL history, but Jacksonville has the advantage overall.
Charlie Bernstein is the Editor-in-Chief of Sports Media Interactive, covering multiple teams in the National Football League, NCAA, and National Basketball Association. Charlie is a regular syndicated contributor to FoxSports and Sirius NFL Radio, and has been featured on the NFL Network. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. Feel free to contact him -HERE- with questions or comments.
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