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A Key Matchup to Watch | Quick Thoughts on Week 6 Colts vs. Jaguars

Quick Thoughts (pregame)

JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser, senior correspondent Brian Sexton and team reporter Kainani Stevens offer quick thoughts on the Jaguars as they prepare to play the Indianapolis Colts at EverBank Stadium Sunday in a 2023 Week 6 game …

John Oehser, Jaguars Senior Writer…

  1. New territory. The Jaguars enter Sunday in relatively unfamiliar territory – favored in a big division game. The Jaguars are favored against the Colts with a chance to take sole possession of first place in the AFC South – and a chance to complete a season sweep of a Colts team that currently shares first place. The only other time in recent memory the Jaguars have been in such a position was the 2022 regular-season finale, with the Jaguars rallying for a 20-16 victory over defending division champion Tennessee to clinch their first division title in five seasons. The Jaguars, who rallied from a fourth-quarter deficit to win in Indianapolis in Week 1, have been bad so often over the last decade that games with such stakes have been far too rare. They now appear likely to be in a lot of these games in the coming seasons. Beating the Colts Sunday wouldn't be as big as clinching a division as they did in Week 18 last season. But showing you're a team that can handle big division situations consistently would be a good step toward becoming a perennial contender.
  2. Prove it again. Wednesday quick thoughts are for looking forward. But to fully grasp what Sunday's game against the Colts could mean, it's worth looking a final time at the Jaguars' victories in London over the Atlanta Falcons and Buffalo Bills. What bodes well for the Jaguars is they won back-to-back games over teams that currently have winning records. This team proved in London it can win gritty games without playing perfectly, and that it can make big plays in the second half in pressurized situations. The Colts are a strong running team. They have won three of four games since a Week 1 loss to the Jaguars and enter Sunday with earned confidence. The game figures to be decided in the fourth quarter. A Jaguars victory, particularly coming after two confidence-building victories in London, would show much about the mental toughness of a team that was struggling just a few weeks ago.

Brian Sexton, Jaguars Senior Correspondent …

  1. Something to grow on. I know many expect more from the Jaguars' offense than 21 points per game, especially with wide receiver Calvin Ridley in the mix this season. Head Coach Doug Pederson was shooting a lot higher when the season began. I believe they broke out last Sunday in London with that 10-of-18 third-down performance. They must convert at or above 45 percent on third down to be an elite offense; they were about 55 percent against the Bills. They won't control time of possession 38 minutes to 22 minutes and run 28 more plays than their opponent every week, but if the offense can put together some efficient drives like they did against the Bills, they will find their rhythm. That means they will figure out the points, too. I left the United Kingdom Sunday encouraged by that performance – and their two touchdowns in three red-zone possessions. I believe they have something figured out.
  2. The Colts will ride with Taylor and Moss. The Colts will miss rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson, whose 5.7-yard-per-carry average is a big reason why they're 3-2. But they should be able to counter with running back Zach Moss, who is averaging 5.0 yards per carry and is coming off a 165-yard, two-touchdown performance against the Titans. Mix in All-Pro running back Jonathan Taylor, who has a 5.2-yards-per-carry average for his career, and suddenly Colts quarterback Gardner Minshew II is a lot more difficult to attack. Neither Moss nor Taylor was available in Week 1, so this will be an entirely different offense. These Colts don't have that big-play receiver or tight end to stretch the field, so they will be willing to pound the ball behind a rejuvenated offensive line. The Jaguars better be prepared to sell out to stop the run this week.

Kainani Stevens, Jaguars Team Reporter/Producer ...

  1. Good vibes. It's amazing what winning will do for a team. The energy surrounding the Jaguars is a 180-degree switch from what it was before the trip to London. I don't think it was necessarily the "team bonding," but I think the isolation in the English countryside allowed players to focus on football. Returning to Jacksonville, you can see a renewed focus in the locker room.
  2. Our best versus their best. The Jaguars are ranked in the top five in the NFL for rush defense this season. They allowed only 29 rush yards against the Bills and face a formidable challenge with the return of Taylor, who led the NFL in rushing in 2021. He now seems happy and healthy with a new contract extension in hand. This will be a key matchup to watch on Sunday.

Feels good to be home 🐆 The Jacksonville Jaguars are back at the Miller Electric Center for practice in preparation for Week 6 of the regular season. Check out top practice photos of the Jaguars working to face the Indianapolis Colts ➡️

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