The weeks seem to be flying by in the 2012 NFL season as the red-hot Colts kick off Week number 10 as they travel to northern Florida to take on a reeling Jaguars side. Andrew Luck has lived up to the hefty billing of being the first overall selection in recent weeks, but hasn’t played quite as well on the road. If the Colts are to challenge for a playoff spot in December, Luck’s play away from home will need to be much better.
Jacksonville enters this contest as one of the NFL’s worst teams, likely down there with the Kansas City Chiefs. They currently hold a 1-7 record, and though they see this as an opportunity for a big win in front of the hometown crowd, it’s going to take a much improved outing if they’re to knock off an inspired Colts squad on Thursday night. The Jaguars have really struggled at home this season, getting outscored by a total of 126-34 thus far. Though their one win did come against Indianapolis, it was a miracle play in the dying minutes that secured victory for them. The Colts will be looking for revenge, and the Jags may not be capable of preventing that. On the injury front, Jacksonville is very banged up, especially in their secondary as Dwight Lowery and Rashean Mathis will likely miss this contest. Meanwhile, star running back Maurice Jones-Drew remains on the sidelines with a foot injury.
On the other sideline are the red-hot Indianapolis Colts. Indy is an inspired bunch right now, playing with passion for their former head coach Chuck Pagano, who was recently diagnosed with leukemia. The Colts enter a 5-3 team, a record most pundits thought would be impossible at the outset of the season. Andrew Luck has played brilliantly thus far, though his outings away from home could be improved upon. The Colts struggle outdoors, and have yet to play a night game this year, two things that will be new for this very young squad. With five of Indianapolis’ eight remaining contests coming on the road, games like these ones against an inferior Jaguars’ squad are imperative if they are to end up in the playoffs. It won’t be easy however, as key tight-end Coby Fleener and vital cornerback Vontae Davis remain out with injuries, while Donald Brown, Donnie Avery, and Robert Mathis are all listed as questionable. With a depleted line-up and off a short week, we’ll see what these Colts are made of come Thursday.
Colts vs. Jaguars Betting Odds:
Indianapolis Colts -3.5 (+100)
@ Jacksonville Jaguars +3.5 (-120)
Over 42 (-110)
Under 42 (-110)
Betting odds taken from Bovada.lv
Colts vs. Jaguars Pick:
Though the Jaguars enter this contest looking like a lost bunch, they’ve yet to quit on their season and are well aware that this game provides them with a great opportunity to get a victory. The Colts have been rolling and are coming off yet another emotional victory in Week 9 against Miami. It wouldn’t be surprising if a poor road team like Indianapolis struggled in a traditional letdown spot against what should be a hungry Jacksonville team.
Where the Jags have struggled thus far in 2012 has been their pass defense. With a banged-up secondary it won’t be easy against Luck and the Colts on Thursday night, but with Indy being without Fleener and Avery, it will allow the Jacksonville defense to key in on Reggie Wayne in an attempt to slow him down. The Jags don’t have the greatest of defenses, but they should be motivated playing against one of football’s hottest players right now in Andrew Luck.
On offense, look for the Jaguars to utilize their running game to their advantage. While Rashad Jennings is certainly no MJD, Jennings remains one of the top back-ups in league at the running back position and should shred a porous Colts’ run defense. Indianapolis has conceded 130 yards per game on the ground this season and look for Jacksonville to be able to exploit that weakness.
Blaine Gabbert has improved immensely for the Jaguars at quarterback in 2012 and look for his play to continue gaining in the final weeks of this season. Gabbert has already beaten the Colts once this year, and his team will be motivated to do so again in Week 10. Being a 1-7 team in the NFL has to be embarrassing and look for an inspired outing from Jacksonville against an overachieving Colts team in a prime letdown spot. Expect Indianapolis to be reading too much of their press clippings entering this one, and look for the Jags to take advantage en route to a surprising home victory. Jacksonville wins in a nail-biter.
PICK = Jacksonville +3.5 (-120)