JACKSONVILLE – Each Saturday during the 2019 season, nine Jaguars experts – Rick Ballou, Tony Boselli, Frank Frangie, Jeff Lageman, Brent Martineau, John Oehser, Brian Sexton, J.P. Shadrick and Ashlyn Sullivan – will break down the following day's Jaguars matchup.
Up this week:
The Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Tony Boselli, Jaguars analyst and former Jaguars left tackle
The Jaguars will win if: They keep quarterback Nick Foles upright and have balance running the ball with running back Leonard Fournette. With the return of Foles, look for the Jaguars to push the ball down the field more, which will open running lanes for Fournette. Defensively, the Jaguars must be stout against the run and slow running back Marlon Mack. The Jaguars must force a hobbled Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett – who is without his best wide receiver, T.Y. Hilton – to beat them. The Colts are 0-7 without Hilton.
The Colts will win if: They get the run game going with Mack and stay out of long down and distances. If they do that, they should have success against the Jaguars' defense. In games where opponents have gotten a lead and run the ball, the Jaguars have struggled. The Colts cannot afford to get down and be one dimensional. In these situations, the Jaguars' defense has feasted on opposing quarterbacks. With Foles starting for the first time since the collarbone injury, the Colts are going to want to get to him early and make him uncomfortable.
As Boselli sees it: The Jaguars get their franchise quarterback back and are in the thick of the AFC playoff race, which is exactly what you were hoping for when Foles went down in the season opener. Look for the Jaguars to start fast and take an early lead. This will put their defense in a great position to get after Brissett, who is returning after missing a game with a knee injury and doesn't have Hilton. While it is hard to win on the road in the division, this is a game the Jaguars will control from the start and win by double digits, 24-14.
Frank Frangie, Radio Voice of the Jaguars
The Jaguars will win if: Quarterback Nick Foles shakes the rust and hits some throws early, opening running lanes for running back Leonard Fournette. So much rides on the early rhythm of the offense; will there be a breaking-in period for the offense with Foles, or will it be efficient early? The Jaguars' pass rush is critical here — Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett will play but not be as mobile as usual. He is a drop-back passer, not a run-pass-option guy, but he generally moves well in the pocket. Sacks and pressures are very important in this one.
The Colts will win if: Running back Marlon Mack gets going early and they give Brissett time. They also need to win on first down defensively, stopping Fournette and making Foles throw in third-and-long situations. So much of this game comes down to how quickly the Jaguars' offense can find its stride with Foles playing for the first time since Week 1.
As Frangie sees it: I think this sets up well for the Jaguars. I think they have the better roster, the better defense. Brissett is not completely healthy and I see some sacks and pressures here. And if Foles gets going early, the Jaguars will score. I like the Jaguars in this one.
Jeff Lageman, Jaguars analyst and former Jaguars defensive end
_The Jaguars will win if: _They can contain the running game of the Colts and make a hobbled Brissett carry the load. Indianapolis has one of the better offensive lines in the NFL – led by guard Quenton Nelson – that has been opening some nice holes for Mack. When the Jaguars have controlled opponents' run game, they have won.
_The Colts will win if: _They can force Foles into mistakes. Foles hasn't played a full game since the end of last season and has yet to do so with a new offense that the Jaguars have tailor made for him. Colts Head Coach Frank Reich knows Foles and Jaguars offensive coordinator John DeFilippo as well as anyone and may have great insight for a successful scheme.
_As Lageman sees it: _This will be an incredibly tight game with special teams playing an integral part. The kicking game will be an advantage for the Jaguars with kicker Josh Lambo and punter Logan Cooke being better than Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri and punter Rigoberto Sanchez as a pair. The Jaguars' defensive front will also accept the challenge of facing a much-discussed Colts offensive line and play with a chip on their shoulders.
Brent Martineau, Action Sports Jax Sports Director
_The Jaguars will win if: _They solve the riddle of the red zone. I expect the Jaguars to move the ball like they have all season. They must start scoring touchdowns. If they can do that, they have a good chance to play with the lead. If the game stays close, the Colts will have an advantage with their offensive line.
_The Colts will win if: _They control time of possession. They have Brissett coming off an injury. They will lean on the running game and their offensive line to dominate the day. If they win the trenches, they likely will win the game.
As Martineau sees it:This might be the most difficult pick of the season. How do we know what to expect from Foles? How do we know what to expect from Brissett? I initially had this as a Jaguars loss, but I think there's a sense of urgency for the Jaguars to win this one coming off the bye. Jags: 24-13.
John Oehser, jaguars.com senior writer
_The Jaguars will win if: _Foles' return makes the offense more efficient early. Foles' backup, Gardner Minshew II, did an admirable job in eight games as a starter but this team needs more than admirable. They need the offense to start fast and get the team a lead. That will allow Fournette enough carries to be effective. It will allow the pass rush to be a factor. It's critical to everything that makes this team competitive.
_The Colts will win if: _They get the Jaguars' pass rush blocked. Whether or not Brissett plays, this Jaguars pass rush is capable of dominating an opponent. They had a chance to dominate the Texans in London in Week 9 and couldn't get quarterback Deshaun Watson down often enough. If the Jaguars harass the Colts' quarterback, they will win. If not …
_As Oehser sees it: _This game is critical for the Jaguars. If they win, they'll be in second place in the AFC South with deserved confidence and hope. If they lose, the last six games will be about far-fetched scenarios and last chances. The danger here is the Colts have lost their last two games and it's tough to hand a contending team a third consecutive loss – particularly at home.
Brian Sexton, jaguars.com senior correspondent
_The Jaguars will win if: _Fournette has his best game of the season. Fournette has been good this season – really good. But he wasn't a factor against the Texans in London and when your best offensive player isn't a factor, you stand little chance. Follow me here: For Fournette to be a factor, the Jaguars must be able to stick with the running game, which means they must play with the lead instead of playing from behind. If the Jaguars can score early and disrupt a Colts offense that isn't playing at nearly the level it was a month ago, Fournette should be able to take it to a defense that is fast but isn't known for its physical play. If Fournette can wear them down, the Jaguars will win.
_The Colts will win if: _The Colts will win if their offensive line plays to its standard. There are whispers in Indianapolis the line hasn't been as dominant as last season, though it's tough to see when you watch the Colts. If they can handle the Jaguars' pass rush and create running room for Mack, the Colts can take the pressure off their injured quarterback and control the tempo of the game. This unit isn't quite the Cowboys' offensive line, but Jaguars defensive coordinator Todd Wash said earlier this week they were in the conversation.
_As Sexton sees it: _The Jaguars are in a good spot this week. Foles' return gives them the best quarterback on the field. They're as healthy as they've been since training camp ended. Outside of the tight end spot, they have guys who can make plays all over the field – and maybe rookie tight end Josh Oliver will arrive over the season's final seven games. The Colts are an injured team with questions about the health of their quarterback, their best offensive player and their secondary. I so want to pick the Jaguars to win but I can't – not after they didn't show up in London against a beat-up Texans team playing overseas for the first time. These Jaguars must prove they can win a big game – and this is a big game – before I can trust them. I'm going with the Colts in a close one.
J.P. Shadrick, jaguars.com reporter/editor
_The Jaguars will win if: _They can slow the Colts' running game. Mack is legit, and so is the Colts' offensive line. When the Jags have slowed running games, they have been able to win. When they haven't, they have lost. Simple. Stop the run.
_The Colts will win if: _They find a way to force takeaways. What will this Jaguars' offense look like? Hopefully what it looked like in the first quarter of the first game of the season over the final seven games of the season. If the Colts can force Foles into mistakes, or get the ball away from Fournette, then it could be trouble for the Jaguars.
_As Shadrick sees it: _This Jaguars team is up against it and there are many unknowns. How will the quarterback play? How will the Jaguars come back from the bye week? Can the defense turn it up the rest of the way? They cannot afford to lose much more, but it all starts this week in Indy. They can win, but what will they look like? This is a tough set up, but tough teams overcome it. We will find out quickly if the camaraderie in the locker room equates to on-field success.
Ashlyn Sullivan, Digital reporter and host
_The Jaguars will win if: _Foles meets our expectations. Foles has a ton of pressure on his shoulders to perform on Sunday with all eyes on him, but that is what the Jags paid him to do – be the guy who wins games when it counts. If Foles plays to the level we expect, the Jaguars will win.
_The Colts will win if: _Brissett's injury doesn't affect his play. The Colts quarterback is expected to play this week after missing last with a knee injury. The Jaguars defensive line will make it an emphasis to get after the quarterback, especially one that is running on a bad knee. The Jaguars' defense can pressure the Colts enough to get the win.
_As Sullivan sees it: _This entire game is on Foles and how productive he will make the Jaguars' offense. The injuries the Colts have on offense is a huge advantage for the Jaguars. It's a must-win game for the Jaguars if they want to continue talking about the playoffs. I think they survive another week and make it to 5-5.
Rick Baillou, Radio sideline reporter
The Jaguars will win if: They stop Colts running back Marlon Mack. Indy has a big, physical line, but the unit has struggled as of late. Quarterback Jacoby Brissett is missing his top three wide receivers, so they will do their best to run right at the Jaguars. If Jacksonville can stop the run, the Jaguars will win.
The Colts will win if: If Jaguars quarterback Nick Foles is rusty. Can Indy force the veteran to make some mistakes and commit a couple of turnovers? If so, the Colts will snap their two-game losing streak.
As Ballou sees it: The Jaguars have scored 27 and 26 points, respectively, in their last two games in Indianapolis. There's no reason to think that they won't do the same Sunday. Foles will have success on third down and also in red-zone situations. The Jaguars will win by a touchdown.