If you are ready for some football, then this might be the game for you.
This Monday night's Jaguars at Colts game represents an early-season matchup between two teams who might face each other in the postseason. It's a game pitting quarterback against quarterback, wide receiver against wide receiver and, it would seem, running back against running back. It is the latter that could decide the outcome of this game.
Fred Taylor is expected to make his regular-season debut in this game, following a slow recovery from an Aug. 11 knee injury. What hopes the Jaguars have of winning in Indianapolis may rest with Taylor, because the Jaguars need to be able to match the production of versatile and explosive Colts running back Edgerrin James.
If there's another key for the Jaguars, it rests on defense. The Colts are the NFL's 26th-ranked defense, and though that's just a two-game effort by the home team, the fact of the matter is the Colts defense fell apart late last season and hasn't given reason to believe the pieces have been put back together. The Jaguars, who have the league's seventh-ranked defense, should enjoy a major advantage on the defensive side of the ball.
Simply put, the Jaguars offense should have a productive night, depending on Taylor's recovery and availability. On the other hand, the Jaguars defense, if it is truly worthy of its ranking, should offer strong resistance.
Oh, yeah, the Colts do have the most major of advantages, the domefield advantage.
Here's 10 things the Jaguars must do to beat the Colts this Monday night in the RCA Dome:
*1. Play like Titans--The Colts had won six straight in the RCA Dome last season, until the Titans waltzed in for a playoff game and showed everyone what to do: Run the ball, play defense and be physical against a Colts team that is clearly built on finesse.
*2. Control the tempo--The best way to take the crowd out of the game is to dictate the tempo of the game.
*3. Little plays are big--The Colts rely on the big-play capabilities of their star trio on offense. It's only logical the Jaguars must force the Colts to make a lot of little plays by not allowing them the big play.
*4. Protect Mark Brunell--Indianapolis' pass-rush has been non-existent since late last season, which has left a suspect secondary exposed and lacking confidence. Protect Brunell and the Colts secondary could be easy pickings.
*5. Beat the blitz--This one falls on Brunell. The Colts are trying every blitz in the book, as they try to find some way to get pressure on the quarterback. Brunell's job is to recognize the blitz, then beat it.
*6. Hit Peyton Manning--The third-year quarterback may be the smartest and well-schooled passer in the game, but he is not the most physical. The Titans proved that even Manning will hurry his throws and make poor decisions when the pressure is on.
*7. Do it in the red zone--With Mike Hollis out of action, the Jaguars are left with a young and inexperienced kicker for a high-profile game in a hostile environment. Trot him onto the field for extra points, not field goals.
*8. Soward time--The Jaguars drafted R. Jay Soward in the first round because he offered big-play ability in the passing and return games. The Colts are near the top of the league rankings in punt-coverage, while the Jaguars are near the bottom in punt-returns. That gap must be closed. Maybe it's time to find out what Soward can do in the return game.
*9. By the numbers--Oakland picked off the Colts' line-of-scrimmage numbering system, and the Colts are sensitive about the matter. Toy with their heads.
*10. Double Marvin Harrison--He's the Colts' equivalent of the Jaguars' Jimmy Smith. Harrison requires extra attention.