Thursday Night football has the undefeated Indianapolis Colts traveling to Jacksonville to play the 7-6 Jaguars as 3 point favorites. The games only intrigue will be the Colts pursuit of perfection. At 3 points and against that is every bit as good as their 7-6 record indicates, the Colts should have absolutely no problem in walking out of Grass of Jacksonville Municipal Stadium 14-0. Jacksonville’s only hope will be on an over reliance of Maurice Jones Drew to keep this game close even so, it would have to be a career day to keep this game close. The Colts should have little trouble covering this game despite what past trends may indicate on how these teams play each other.
The last time these teams played was in week 1 of the season in which Indianapolis narrowly escaped with a 14-12 victory. This time, do not expect a similarly close game. 14 weeks later and the Colts have established themselves as easily one of the best all around teams in football. The Colts rank in the top 6 in almost every significant offensive category entering the last third of the season. The Colts ranks 6th in points per game at 27.6, 4th in yards per game at 384.4, 2nd in first downs with 23.4 per game, 1st in passing yards at 296.4 yards per game, and 3rd in yard per play at 6.1. The list goes on for the Colt offensive and in the last 3 games; the team has actually increased their point total to an average of 30 points per game, signifying that this team is nowhere near taking their foot off the pedal even after clinching home field advantage in the AFC. Leading this offensive is of course Payton Manning who is again putting up MVP caliber numbers.
The Jaguars will have little to counter the offense firepower of the Colts. Recent history suggests that these teams just somehow manage to play close games as with the last 4 games being decided by 7 points or fewer. I see this as more of an anomaly then a trend because the offense David Garrard leads in every bit as mediocre as their record. Jacksonville ranks 23rd in points scored and 15th in yards per game. The Indianapolis defense will counter this level of mediocrity with a defense that is 2nd best in points allowed at 16.2 points per game. Only when Jones Drew rushes for more than 76 yards has this team been successful as they are 6-2. Jacksonville may be able to expose the rushing defense of Indianapolis as it is currently ranked 17th in the league, giving up an average of 110.4 yards per game but in the last 3 games, that average has increased to nearly 119 yards per game.
The inability of Garrard to move the ball down field on a consistent basis makes this a simple game plan for Indianapolis. The Colts will surely overload the box and with Garrard only throwing 10 touchdowns this year, his weapons on the outside will be limited. Indianapolis will also be able to take advantage of their strong pass rush as they are ranked 12th in the league in sacks with 2.9 per game while the Jacksonville offensive line ranks 28th in the league in sacks allowed, giving up almost 3 per game. And for a team that emphasizes the run, Garrard is getting hit, pressured, hurried, or knocked down on way too many drop backs.
Indianapolis enters the game as 3 point favorites. This year, Indianapolis is 9-3-1 ATS. In the last 5 games Indianapolis is 4-1 ATS and 5-0 ATS in its last 5 games on the road. In head to head matchups, Indianapolis 3-7 ATS in its last 10 games when playing Jacksonville. This year, Jacksonville is 5-8 ATS. Jacksonville is 2-7 ATS in its last 9 games, 1-4 ATS in its last 5 games at home. The O/U for the game is listed at 43. This season both Indianapolis and Jacksonville are 6-7 O/U. The total has gone OVER in 4 of Indianapolis's last 6 games when playing Jacksonville and OVER in 6 of Indianapolis's last 8 games when playing Jacksonville on the road.
Thursday Pick: Stay away from the trends and use some common sense for this game, the trend better would see how close these teams have played in recent years and look for this game to be close with even a potential upset possible, not happening. Indianapolis is a significantly better team at this point in the season so 3 points is the easy cover. I also like the OVER, if weather is not a factor, Indianapolis should be able to put up points in bunches on the 20th ranked Jacksonville defense.