The Colts are perilously close to being in the same positon as the Jaguars.
That position is 0-3 and two games out of first place in the AFC South, but because of a come-from-behind victory over the San Diego Chargers Sunday, the Colts just feel like they're in a much better spot.
Such is the nature of the NFL, but a 26-22 victory over San Diego last week – a victory that came when quarterback Andrew Luck passed 63 yards to wide receiver T.Y. Hilton for a touchdown with 1:17 remaining – indeed has 1-2 Indianapolis one game behind the 2-1 Houston Texans.
What a difference one play makes.
The Colts have put a different perspective on their season in recent weeks with significant defensive improvement. After allowing 848 yards and 73 points in the first two games of the season they allowed 352 yards and 22 points against the Chargers. The Colts also on Sunday against the Jaguars could have cornerbacks Vontae Davis and Patrick Robinson playing together for the first time this season.
Offensively, this remains a roster with some of the best skill-position players in the NFL with Luck and Hilton (18 receptions, 294 yards and one touchdown) once again having the ability to create a big play from anywhere on the field.
The Colts are about more offensively than just Hilton and Luck, and a big part of their offense this season has focused on the tight end. Jack Doyle has 137 yards receiving and Dwayne Allen has 113 yards receiving and the Colts' tight end group as a whole ranks fourth in the NFL in receiving yards on 22 receptions. Another key Colts statistic involves their dominance of the AFC South. They have won nine of 14 AFC South titles since 2002, the second-most division titles in the NFL in that span.
The Colts' obvious strength is Luck. The fifth-year veteran struggled during an injury-plagued season last season, but he has completed 61.3 percent of his passes for 913 yards and six touchdowns with two interceptions this season. He remains one of the NFL's best late-game pressure quarterbacks, rallying the Colts over San Diego last week for his 14th come-from-behind fourth-quarter victory. One underrated area of Luck's game is his mobility. Once outside the pocket he is an equal threat to run or pass, a combination that makes defending him more difficult than many mobile quarterbacks. "He has a great arm, but his ability to throw the ball downfield is impressive and he's still moving really, really well in and out of the pocket," Jaguars middle linebacker Paul Posluszny said. "That will be a huge challenge for us. We have to contain him and not let him extend plays with his feet."
While it is vogue among NFL observers to say the Colts' defense is a weakness that hasn't been the case in recent weeks. Indianapolis has allowed just two defensive touchdowns in the last two weeks, and the defense is healthier entering Week 4 after a slew of early-season injuries. The Colts' defense not only held San Diego to one offensive touchdown last week, it also forced two turnovers in the final two minutes to secure Indianapolis' first victory of the season.
While Luck and the passing game make the Colts dangerous, a key Sunday could be the Jaguars' defensive front/interior versus running back Frank Gore. The Jaguars' best defensive game of the season came last week when they held Baltimore to 84 yards rushing, and Posluszny and outside linebacker Telvin Smith keyed that effort. Gore is in his 12th NFL season but remains a productive runner and rushed for 82 yards on 21 carries against San Diego after averaging 51.5 yards in the first two games of the season.
"He's wired the right way. We talk all the time about moving on. Andrew's always been able to put those behind him, make the corrections and go back out and move on. I think in this game no matter what position that you play you have to be able to put good plays behind you as well as bad plays."
---Colts Head Coach Chuck Pagano on Luck's ability to respond positively after a turnover
"That is my job: be the playmaker, make the big plays, keep the drive going and whenever I get the chance, make the big play that changes the game."
"He's a stud. He runs so hard. The biggest thing we're talking to our defense about is we can't let him get rolling. He gets stronger as the game goes on if you let him breathe. I have the utmost respect for him because he runs so hard. If you got to have corners make tackles, that's a tough tackle on a corner so he's just a stud. I don't care how old he is, he can still play."
---Jaguars DC Todd Wash on Gore