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Ten things to beat Colts


This game has inspired a rush of analysis. Everybody wants to know, what are the keys to victory?

Big games have that kind of an effect on fans. Make no mistake about it, this is a big game.

So, what are your keys to victory? Block Dwight Freeney? Sack Peyton Manning? Use a lot of trick plays? Well, here's something I wanna keep an eye on.

The Jaguars wide receivers are 6-1, 6-4, 6-4 and 6-6. The Colts defensive backs are 5-8, 5-8, 5-10 and 5-10.

Whoa! Is that a mismatch or what? Shouldn't the Jaguars win every battle for every high ball? Shouldn't the Jaguars dominate in the red zone?

"They don't have big guys but they have fast guys," quarterback Byron Leftwich said. "They scheme. The way they play, size doesn't matter, but you do know the size of those guys."

Leftwich may have been talking out of both sides of his mouth, a little bit. His remarks were respectful enough not to give the Colts defensive backs a cause, but he also wanted you to know the Jaguars have taken note of the height difference between the guys for whom Leftwich will be throwing and the guys who will be defending.

Simply put, the goings-on in the secondary Sunday when the Jaguars have the ball may resemble something from "Gulliver's Travels."

Keep an eye on this matchup of giants and Lilliputians. It has the potential to be something lasting, since it's likely the Colts' defensive backs have stopped growing.

Now, here are 10 things the Jaguars have to do to beat the Colts.

  1. Run the ball—You knew this would be number one. It goes directly to time of possession, which is how you beat the Colts: You keep Peyton Manning on the bench.
  1. Convert third down—It's the second part of the formula for winning time of possession. Byron Leftwich must be efficient on third down and the Jaguars must get push in short-yardage.
  1. Be physical—That's also how you beat the Colts, and being physical on offense goes hand in hand with running the ball and winning time of possession. On defense, it means dominating the line of scrimmage and whacking Manning's receivers after the catch.
  1. Rush Manning—You don't have to sack him; he'll sack himself if you get close to him. When you have two Pro-Bowl defensive tackles and you've spent $10 million on a defensive end, you had to have this game in mind. Now, rush!
  1. No turnovers—Against the best regular-season quarterback and offense in the business, you may not get any turnovers, so you better make sure you don't commit any.
  1. Win the battle of field position—In the Jaguars' win in the RCA Dome last year, the Jaguars' average field position starting point was their 35-yard line; for the Colts it was their 17. The difference had a lot to do with the outcome.
  1. Block Freeney—This almost goes without saying. Dwight Freeney has the potential to take over the game. He must be blocked.
  1. Limit the gameplan—Keep plans and schemes to a minimum, especially trick plays. Don't send the message that you're a gimmick team. Make sure the Colts know they are playing a power team. Those are the teams that beat them.
  1. Stop the traps—If you can't stop the traps, you can't stop the trap-passes. That's how the Colts score inside the 10-yard line. They make you play trap, then they run trap-pass.
  1. Be strong at the end—This one could go to the wire. The team that wins the fourth quarter will win the game.
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