Time: 1 PM ET, Oct 4 2015
Spread: IND -9
Betting odds c/o Bovada
The 1-2 Indianapolis Colts thus far have done little more than disappoint, and head of those disappointments is QB Andrew Luck, who is now battling a shoulder injury that has limited his practice time. Luck and company will play host to a 1-2 Jacksonville Jaguars team, and the Colts are 9-point favorites. NFL oddsmakers have set the over/under at 48 for this contest.
Luck is questionable to even play in this contest, but the Colts really cannot afford to fall to 1-3. HC Chuck Pagano believes Luck will play, though he is listed as a game-time decision. The Colts are looking to win its sixth straight against Jax and it has won 15 straight contest against AFC South opponents.
Pagano is confident Luck will suit up, replying that he “absolutely” felt he would be good to go. As to him being 100 percent, that is all but out the window, and the Colts really cannot afford to have an ailing Luck committing miscues in this contest.
Luck has not had a lot of help from his OL, and resultantly has tossed seven INTs over three games, which is the first time he’s done so since his rookie year in 2012. He is also the possessed of the worst passer rating in the NFL (65.1), a result of incurring three sacks last year and four big hits, as the Colts won its first game of the year 35-33 over the Tennessee Titans.
Luck came through late in the game when he passed 11 of his final 13 for completion while racking up 144 yards and a pair of TDs to bring Indy back from a 13-point deficit. Luck has always been hit a lot, though, and part of the problem lies with he himself. He’s waiting too long in the pocket given the mediocrity of his OL, and this season only the Chargers’ Philip Rivers has suffered more hits.
Luck has not missed a game in four years, but he took Wed. off to rest his ailing shoulder, while being listed as questionable still. The Colts also went and signed Josh Johnson as a backup, though Matt Hasselbeck will be the one to get the starting nod if he cannot suit up in this one. Luck said of the quandary, “There’s always bumps and bruises…you deal with stuff, you manage it.”
In Indy’s favor, Luck has typically dominated Jacksonville with 72.2 percent of his passes completed for 905 yards and six TDs in the last three contests. He also has not thrown an interception over that trio of games.
Even so, the Colts will likely seek to keep it on the ground more this week in an attempt to continue jump starting Frank Gore. The RB finished with 86 yards and two TDs on 14 carries, which was just two yards shy of what he had done in the first two games combined.
The Jags gave up 51 points to the New England Patriots last week, casting further aspersions on its defense. It gave up 471 yards which was its most since a 2014 loss in which it surrendered 529 yards (while giving up 44 points). Even so, Jacksonville does have its strength: stopping the run. The Jags are No. 2 in that category, giving up just 3.3 yards per attempt.
Against NE the Jags were missing several key players, but the loss was too lopsided for that to be the sole excuse. Nine Jags sat the contest out, and the beat up Jacksonville squad is hoping to stay near the top of the division with a ‘W’ in this one.
Jags QB Blake Bortles is still battling consistency issues and has thrown just 53.8 percent for completion this year, while also throwing three INTs on the young season. He was 15 of 27 for 146 yards in a 23-3 loss at Indy last year, and the Jaguars are hoping the UCF product can turn things around in this, his sophomore season.
Expect Jacksonville to try to get some touches for TJ Yeldon in this one, as the Colts are not good at stopping the run. Though Yeldon had just 33 yards last Sunday (on 11 attempts), he could be vital if the Jags are to get its running game going. Five key players (including both CBs) are questionable for the game and TE Dwayne Allen is just returning from an ankle injury.
Though these injuries exacerbate Jacksonville’s plight against the Colts, NFL oddsmakers still set the spread “only” 9 points in Indy’s favor. Though Luck has struggled, it is reasonable to expect Indy to prevail with a ‘W’ in this contest, though covering the spread will be tough. The ‘over’ makes a nice wager given the Jaguars defensive struggles, but with an ailing Luck the Colts might not be as high powered as it typically is.