JACKSONVILLE – Each week during the 2021 season, Jaguars experts – Rick Ballou, Tony Boselli, Jeff Lageman, Brent Martineau, John Oehser, Brian Sexton, J.P. Shadrick and Ashlyn Sullivan – will analyze the following day's Jaguars matchup.
Up this week:
The Indianapolis Colts at TIAA Bank Field.
Rick Ballou, Jaguars sideline reporter
The Jaguars will win if: They force the Colts to turn the ball over. Jacksonville has only seven takeaways on the year and in order to pull off the upset, they must get a few Sunday.
The Colts will win if: They should have plenty of success running with Taylor. The second-year back is receiving MVP consideration. The Colts also lead the NFL with 33 takeaways, which isn't good news for the Jaguars.
As Ballou sees it: It's simple: if the Colts win, they're in the playoffs and if the Jaguars lose, they get the No. 1 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. Hard to believe that Indianapolis hasn't won in Duval since 2014. That streak will end today.
Tony Boselli, Jaguars analyst and former Jaguars left tackle
The Jaguars will win if: They can score in all three phases and win the turnover margin by at least two. It has been a difficult, long season for the Jaguars and they are playing a good Colts team that will get in the playoffs with a win. If the Jags can have the ball bounce their way a bunch this week, it could be one of the biggest upsets in the NFL this season.
The Colts will win if: They play smart and stay away from the turnovers. The Colts are clearly the better team, with a good defense and the best running back in the NFL. They will be looking to get a fast start to put the Jaguars on their heels early.
As Boselli sees it: Time to get this season over with for the Jaguars and all their fans. My fear is that the Colts will jump out of the gate fast and walk away with it. The Jaguars' players are going to have to dig deep to find the energy and passion to match the Colts' intensity. When there is nothing to play for besides pride, sometimes teams check out. I hope that doesn't happen: Colts 31, Jaguars 10.
Jeff Lageman, Jaguars analyst and former Jaguars defensive end
The Jaguars will win if: They end up with a plus-two turnover differential. The Jaguars have had a major problem this year with this statistical category as they have had the most giveaways in the NFL on offense with 29 and the fewest takeaways in the NFL on defense with only seven. It's hard to win with numbers like that.
The Colts will win if: Their talented offensive line paves the way for Taylor to rush for 100 yards. The Colts have only lost once when he has done so. Taylor is an absolute workhorse with explosive abilities that controls games with his talents. The Colts are looking to gain a playoff berth with a victory in J'ville, which is something they haven't been able to do since 2014 and they will come hungry.
As Lageman sees it: This will be the final chapter in a year of frustration. The season started with hope and promise with a new head coach and a first overall draft pick quarterback. The year is ending with unknowns, a coaching search, at least as many losses as the year previous and a quarterback in Trevor Lawrence that has had many painful lessons. But one lesson the quarterback didn't need to be taught was how to be a pro as Lawrence's maturity kept the year from being a complete disaster. That still gives me hope.
Brent Martineau, Action Sports Jax Sports Director
The Jaguars will win if: They put together their best offensive performance of the season. The NFL is a strange league sometimes, so maybe everything will come together at the end for the Jaguars on offense in a positive way. Remember, they have scored a franchise-low 227 points this season and their season high is 23 points. They'll need more than that.
The Colts will win if: They don't beat themselves. A steady dose of Taylor and minimal mistakes by quarterback Carson Wentz should get the job done Sunday. Indianapolis has every motivation to perform well in this game.
As Martineau sees it: This is it for the Jaguars. We all know by now that the Jaguars have had the Colts' number in Jacksonville. I think that trend will continue to keep it a closer game than many people think. The Colts will win in the end, 30-24.
John Oehser, jaguars.com senior writer
The Jaguars will win if: They score defensively – or at least set up field position that way. The Jaguars have forced just seven turnovers this season and the defense rarely has given the offense short fields. Considering the different in talent between the two teams, the Jaguars' best chance – and maybe their only chance – will be changing that.
The Colts will win if: Taylor runs for more than 100 yards. That has been the Colts' formula. He is the NFL's best healthy running back and has set the tone for the Colts' offense. If he defines the game, the Jaguars have little chance.
As Oehser sees it: The Jaguars have lost eight consecutive games have led in just one of those games. The Colts are ultra-motivated because of a chance to clinch a playoff spot. That's a bad combination for the Jaguars.
Brian Sexton, jaguars.com senior correspondent
The Jaguars will win if: They're plus three or better. They've shown signs of life on offense the last two weeks, but shut themselves down with turnovers in New England. If they can take the ball away, provide the offense with short fields and if the offense can avoid turnovers, then perhaps they can keep the game close into the fourth quarter – which is when most NFL games are decided.
The Colts will win if: Running back Jonathan Taylor runs wild. He has rushed for 390 yards in the last two games against the Jaguars, and the Colts are 2-0 in those games. The Jaguars let him loose on the opening play of the game in Indianapolis in November, but did a nice job after that to keep the game close.
As Sexton sees it: The Jaguars will show up to play Sunday, but it won't be enough. The Colts blew a chance to rest on Sunday when they lost to the Raiders at home last Sunday. This is the first round of the playoffs for them and the last game of the season for the Jaguars. Teams with something at stake generally pull away when the opportunity presents itself against teams simply playing out the final minutes of a season.
J.P. Shadrick, jaguars.com senior reporter
The Jaguars will win if: They can slow Taylor and make Wentz beat them from the pocket. That's easier said than done, since Taylor can take it the distance from anywhere on the field and will come at you all day.
The Colts will win if: They hold on to the ball and take the ball away from the Jaguars a couple times. The Colts are a takeaway machine, and the Jaguars have given it up more than any team in the NFL.
As Shadrick sees it: This is a tough one for the Jaguars. They've all been tough ones. This is also the last one. One last chance to put something on tape for the offseason. One last chance for rookies to be rookies. One last chance to play with this current group and organization, because who knows what the future holds with looming change.
Ashlyn Sullivan, Jaguars team reporter
The Jaguars will win if: They match the Colts' intensity. The Colts are playing for a spot in the playoffs. Jaguars defensive end Josh Allen said this week the Jaguars must match the Colts' will to win or they are in trouble. I have never questioned the Jaguars' effort this season; this week can't be the week where they suddenly don't play hard. They must go out with their best foot forward.
The Colts will win if: Taylor gets going early. The Jaguars have been far from consistent stopping the run this season. Last week, the Patriots rushed for over 180 yards in an embarrassing loss for the Jaguars. If the Colts get momentum early and score on their first couple of drives … look out, this could get ugly.
As Sullivan sees it: The Jaguars won't win this game. How could you pick them to win a game right now? The Colts are a very talented team with a balanced roster and everything to play for. The hope is the Jaguars make this game exciting, keep it close and play hard. There will be dramatic turnover for the Jaguars in a couple of weeks, so it is in every person's best interest to leave it all on the field.