3TFO: Jaguars @ Colts, Week 17
On the last Sunday of the regular season, the 10-win AFC South Champion Indianapolis Colts host the 4-11 Jacksonville Jaguars. The Colts may have a home playoff game locked up, but with a win and some luck (two other playoff teams losing this week) they could earn a bye week, so expect them to play to win here.
Meanwhile, the Jaguars are ending another terrible season, but at least they aren’t the worst team in the league and actually had the longest win streak in the NFL at one point. The first meeting between these two teams was a Colts blow out in Week 4, 37-3. Can the Jaguars put up more of a fight this time around?
Jaguars Pass Rush vs. Colts O-Line
When one team beats another team by 34 points, you don’t expect the winning squad’s QB to have been pummeled. Yet while the Colts did beat down the Jaguars by that many points, they could not prevent their prized QB, Andrew Luck, from taking a thumping – a trend that has occurred more often than not this year. LG Hugh Thornton, who did not play last week, and RT Gosder Cherilus were the worst culprits, conceding a combined three hits and six hurries.
Jacksonville only sacked Luck twice in that game, but did manage eight other QB knockdowns on him along with 12 further hurries. Defensive end Jeremy Mincey, who had a hit and five hurries, is no longer with the team (waived and signed with Denver). Defensive tackles Sen’Derrick Marks (one hit, five hurries) and Tyson Alualu (a sack and a hit), along with journeyman defensive end Jason Babin (five hits) are still around to harass Luck, though. With a playoff game looming, can the Colts O-Line protect their most important player?
Chad Henne vs. Colts Secondary
Out of 42 qualifying signal-callers, Chad Henne has the 38th ‘best’ PFF passing grade. A closer look at his season shows he only has one passing performance that didn’t receive a negative grade – a Week 12 win at Houston. That list does not include the first contest with Indianapolis, as Blaine Gabbert was still starting at that point (the only game he played every snap in this year).
Henne will be going up against an inconsistent Colts secondary – a unit that looked helpless against Andy Dalton (275 yards, three TD passes) and the Case Keenum/Andre Johnson pairing in that first game (229 yards and a hat trick). They have risen to the challenge against other opponents like Peyton Manning and another playoff contender in the Kansas City Chiefs last week. They also got revenge on Keenum and Johnson, limiting the veteran to four catches for 18 yards in the rematch and picking off Keenum twice. Can the Colts secondary end the regular season with a third-straight solid performance?
Andrew Luck vs. Jaguars Secondary
Andrew Luck’s highest pass grade of the season was the comeback victory against the Seattle Seahawks, while his second best (+4.2) coming in the first meeting between these two teams. Despite being pressured on 18 of 39 drop-backs, he completed 21 of 34 passes for over 250 yards, two scores, and two completions that traveled over 20 yards in the air (one which was a TD to Coby Fleener). He did throw a pick in the first quarter though on a miscommunication between him and WR T.Y. Hilton.
CB Will Blackmon made the play on that interception and successfully defended two other passes, ending the day only conceding 38 yards on three catches out of eight targets. CB Alan Ball was also not embarrassed on that day, allowing only two catches on four targets to be complete for 17 yards, while also defending a pass. Jacksonville’s pair of rookie safeties were not so fortunate – John Cyprien and Josh Evans were both taken to the woodshed, allowing a combined nine catches on 10 targets for 137, two TDs, and four missed tackles. Cyprien’s coverage breakdown on Fleener’s TD early in the third quarter was especially egregious – you rarely see a player that wide open.
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