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Experts Weigh In: Final Analysis of Jaguars vs. Colts 2023 Season Opener Predictions and Key Strategies

0909 - Final Analysis

JACKSONVILLE – Each week during the 2023 season, Jaguars "experts" – Tony Boselli, Frank Frangie, Jeff Lageman, Brent Martineau, John Oehser, Brian Sexton, J.P. Shadrick and Kainani Stevens – will analyze the following day's Jaguars matchup.

Up this week: The Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Ind.

Tony Boselli, Jaguars analyst and former Jaguars left tackle

  • The Jaguars will win if: Offensively Lawrence is patient and takes what the Colts defensive gives him and protects the ball. Bradley will play a lot of zone coverage and the defense will do its best to keep everything in front of the secondary, hoping Lawrence will get impatient and force the ball down the field. If the Jags offense takes what the Colts give it and protects the ball, it will have a great day.
  • The Colts will win if: They're plus-two in turnover margin and Richardson is allowed to use his legs to get outside the pocket creating off-schedule big plays. I don't think Richardson can beat the Jaguars from the pocket, but with his size and athletic ability he could cause problems both in the run and pass game.
  • As Boselli sees it: The Jaguars are the more talented and better team, and if they play a clean game should win this game fairly easily. However, crazy stuff always happens in Week 1, and the Jaguars can't afford to make silly mistakes and turn the ball over; otherwise, they'll wake up in the fourth quarter and will be in a dog fight. I don't think this happens. Jaguars win, 31-17.

Frank Frangie, Radio Voice of the Jaguars

  • The Jaguars will win if: They do everything we think they will — attack offensively with Lawrence and that outstanding cast of skill players, have balance in the running game with both Travis Etienne Jr. and Tank Bigsby. Defensively, the key will be to keep Richardson in the pocket. He's most dangerous outside of it and will make some yards as a runner. But make him beat you from the pocket.
  • The Colts will win if: They somehow stay in it early and don't get knocked out by the Jags offense early in the game. They have to try to slow the Jags, stay close, have Richardson get loose on some RPOs or scramble plays, then hope it's close late.
  • As Frangie sees it: The Jags have the better team. The Colts are rebuilding behind a rookie quarterback and first-year head coach. If the Jags don't beat themselves, they should win here. The Colts would need the Jags to help them some to win.

Jeff Lageman, Jaguars analyst and former Jaguars defensive end

  • The Jaguars will win if: They can remain efficient and patient on offense while protecting the football. Colts defensive coordinator Gus Bradley has a young secondary and will force Lawrence to take the underneath completions. Lawrence must take what the defense gives him and stack plays together to eventually find the points. The Jaguars must protect the football against a team that is young and inexperienced in some key areas, especially at quarterback. Penalties also must be minimized to avoid any potential momentum for Indianapolis.
  • The Colts will win: If they control the tempo of the game with their offensive line, establishing a dominant ground game utilizing the RPO system. Richardson will be a big part of their plan on the ground as well as he is a physical specimen that will be tough to bring down. If the ground game is rolling, then the Colts can keep the Jags on their heels with the RPO passing game.
  • As Lageman sees it: The Jags are going to Indianapolis ready to establish themselves as the team to beat in the AFC South and show why they were the division champs in 2022. Lawrence will be ready to show the NFL world that he is ready to compete in the AFC year in and year out with the likes of Patrick Mahomes and Joe Burrow. The Colts could always have a day, but they are just too young to compete with a Jaguars team that is ready to rock.
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Miami Dolphins

RB Tank Bigsby (4)

Brent Martineau, Action Sports Jax Sports Director

  • The Jaguars will win if: They score 24 or more points. I don't think Indy can get that total with a rookie quarterback, no Taylor and limited weapons on offense. The Jaguars hope they average close to 30 this season, so 24 could allow for a little rust and still plenty of breathing room to win the opener.
  • The Colts will win if: They win the turnover margin by two or more. Indianapolis needs help in this game and a short-field turnover could provide the Colts with a boost. There really isn't a lot of expectation on this game for the Colts, so if they get some momentum they could turn that into an upset win in the opener.
  • As Martineau sees it: The data certainly indicates the Jaguars will win this game and maybe in blowout fashion. The NFL is full of surprises, especially in Week One. I think the Jags will have a bit more friction than people think, but they will pull away in the end to win 27-16.

John Oehser, senior writer

  • The Jaguars will win if: The offense is as good as projected, and the defense can force Richardson into some expected rookie mistakes. The Jaguars' offense looked poised and ready in the final preseason game, which should translate to scoring in the mid-to-high 20s against a Colts defense with questions in the secondary. Richardson, the No. 4 overall selection in the 2023 NFL Draft, is a dangerous big-play player, but he's also a rookie in his first NFL game.
  • The Colts will win if: Richardson minimizes mistakes and turns two or three negative plays into positives. Richardson is the sort of fast, big athlete that can turn good plays by the defense into big plays for the offense. Multiple such plays could keep the Colts in this game into the fourth quarter.
  • As Oehser sees it: The Jaguars should win Sunday, but it won't likely be as one-sided as many fans/observers project. It's Week 1. The Colts are at home. They're running a new offense with a rookie quarterback and rookie head coach. NFL regular-season openers are weird, and this feels like the sort of game where the favorite needs a big play late.
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Miami Dolphins

OL Luke Fortner (79) and QB Trevor Lawrence (16)

Brian Sexton, senior correspondent

  • The Jaguars will win if: Their offense is as good as it looked in the first quarter of the preseason finale against the Miami Dolphins. Head coach Doug Pederson and quarterback Trevor Lawrence kept that defense off balance with a powerful running game and a multitude of options in the passing game; at times it felt as if they were playing with 12 players. The Colts' front seven on defense has some talented players. It can be very disruptive and it's important to keep the Colts guessing. If the Jaguars do so, points should be plentiful with as many different looks as Pederson and offensive coordinator Press Taylor can create.
  • The Colts will win if: They create turnovers and give rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson some easy opportunities to keep the game close. He's nowhere near ready to play quarterback like Lawrence, but if you let him use his legs and play like Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts, he can keep the game close enough to give Indianapolis a chance in the fourth quarter – when most NFL games are decided.
  • As Sexton sees it: The Jaguars will take advantage of Richardson in his first NFL start – and the Colts being without star running back Jonathan Taylor – and win the season opener. The Jaguars' offense looks primed and ready to score. If the defense can get into attack mode Richardson will have too much to contend with.

J.P. Shadrick, senior reporter

  • The Jaguars will win if: They score like we all think they should this season. Lawrence is a year older and wiser. The stable of receivers, tight ends and running backs are ready to produce. The offensive line, though it has had some changes in training camp, is ready to roll. Pederson and Taylor have had weeks to prepare for the Colts; I trust they will dial up some things to exploit perceived weaknesses in the Colts defense, all while setting the tone for the season by scoring early and often.
  • The Colts will win if: Richardson is allowed to break contain and make plays with his legs consistently, and the Colts protect the football. This is where it can get strange with a player of his caliber. Richardson is a massive quarterback with outstanding skill. You don't want him running 15 yards downfield against comparatively little guys in the secondary. You do want him in the pocket hesitating and being forced to make bad decisions.
  • As Shadrick sees it: Week 1 is always a little awkward since you might see looks you didn't expect, but this Jaguars offense should be good enough to overcome any wrinkles the Colts try on defense. If the Jaguars defense can contain Richardson and force him to throw a couple to them, then they'll have more of an advantage. The Jaguars have never scored more than 27 points in any game played in Indianapolis, in either the RCA Dome or Lucas Oil Stadium. I expect the Jaguars to be in the 30s and to come away with a road win Week 1.                

Kainani Stevens, team reporter

  • The Jaguars will win if: They can avoid stupid mistakes. The Jaguars on paper should have little issue with an Indianapolis team that has question marks all over the roster. I don't think the Jags necessarily need to have a fast start, but they must remain consistent and error-free on both sides of the ball. If the Jags execute their offense game plan, then Jacksonville should win this game by at least two scores.
  • The Colts will win if: Richardson catches lightning in a bottle. A rookie quarterback doesn't know what he doesn't know until he hits the field in a real NFL game. Limited game film leaves things a bit of a mystery as to what we will see from the former Florida Gator in his professional debut.
  • As Stevens sees it: The Jaguars need to come out and set the tone for the season with a decisive divisional win on the road. It may not look as pretty on offense as what it could be later in the year, but I do expect to see some flashes. The Jags will leave Lucas Oil Stadium with a "W" for the first time since 2017.

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