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coleryan
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Indianapolis Colts at Jacksonville Jaguars: Preview and Pick

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On 09/23/2013 05:48 PM in NFL
Indianapolis Colts at Jacksonville Jaguars: Preview and Pick

The Indianapolis acquired running back Trent Richardson a week ago in a trade with the Cleveland Browns. They then traveled west to take on the San Francisco 49ers and they won in convincing fashion. Now riding that wave of momentum they have to try and get up for a game against the hapless Jacksonville Jaguars.

Indianapolis Colts at Jacksonville Jaguars Odds

The NFL betting line for this game opened up with the Colts listed at (-7.5) point favorites. That line was not going to stay there that long as 75 percent of the early money and football wagers came flooding in on the Colts. In fact the line has already jumped up to nine points at nearly all of the top rated and reputable online sportsbooks. That line will most likely continue to climb towards double digits as kickoff approaches.

As expected the Jags were destroyed against Seattle. The Seahawks forced Jacksonville into three turnovers. They sacked Jacksonville Chad Henne four times, and Maurice Jones-Drew, playing with an injured ankle, was limited to 43 yards on 19 carries. They did put up some points, but mainly against the backups for Seattle.

The Colts looked great against the 49ers in playing one of their best games of the season. Trent Richardson carried 13 times for 35 yards, giving the Colts quite the 1-2 punch with Bradshaw's 19 rushes for 95 yards. That is a dynamic duo that will help this team and take some pressure off Andrew Luck behind a shaky offensive line at times. The Colts defense shut down the vaunted 49ers offense and made the 49ers look bad on their home turf.

The only real question is will the Colts get up for this game or overlook one of the worst teams in the National Football League? The Jags will be ready but that is not saying a lot for this poor team.

The NFL betting trends for this game reveal just how poorly the Jags have been in recent years. Jacksonville is 2-7 against the spread (ATS) in its last 9 games at home, 8-16 straight up in its last 24 games when playing Indianapolis and 2-4 ATS in its last 6 games when playing at home against Indianapolis. The total has gone over in 8 of Jacksonville's last 12 games when playing at home against Indianapolis but Indianapolis is 4-13-1 straight up in its last 18 games on the road.

Indianapolis Colts at Jacksonville Jaguars Pick

With plenty of time to go before the start of the regular season, I will wait to release my pick on this game until we get closer to game day.
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09/24/2013 02:48 PM
The Indianapolis Colts dismantled the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, winning convincingly 27-7 at Candlestick Park – and moved to 2-1 on the season.

Defensively, the Colts held the 49ers to 254 yards of total offense – 139 yards passing and 115 rushing.

Offensively the Colts had 336 total yards – 179 rushing and 157 passing. While the numbers aren’t staggering, it is still impressive to go into another team’s stadium and outgain and all around outplay them.

Gone are the days in Indianapolis when they were a pass first, run later type of offense. The word is “balance” these days for the Colts. With the acquisition of bruising running back Trent Richardson from Cleveland last week, and with incumbent Ahmad Bradshaw performing well – 41 carries for 186 yards in 2013 – the pressure doesn’t all fall on the young Andrew Luck to do everything. So far the Colts rank 4th in the NFL in rushing yards per game at 146.3.

In an interview with the Associated Press, head coach Chuck Pagano discussed the confidence his team has gained this season, and the benefits of his team buying into the balanced attack.

“It builds confidence throughout the locker room, throughout the organization and obviously on both sides of the ball and special teams,” Pagano said. “Like you said, they (the players) have bought in from Day 1, but it just lends credence to what you’re doing philosophically. When you lay out a blueprint, it doesn’t matter what venue, if we’re home or away, it shows that if you stick to the process, it comes to fruition and you go win a game like we just won, you can build on that.”

With a victory in the defending NFC champ’s backyard, that confidence must be at an all-time high.

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09/24/2013 02:54 PM
The rookie head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars learned the power of positive thinking at the right hand of eternally optimistic Pete Carroll, so it will take more than an 0-3 start for him to become known as Gloomy Gus Bradley.

But how about 0-16? Would that do it?

We'll never know, say the Jaguars, who cite Bradley's infectious cheerfulness and their own talent and fortitude as reasons they will not become the second team in NFL history to go 0-16 and the third team since 1944 to lose every game on its schedule, joining the 0-16 Detroit Lions of 2008 and the 0-14 expansion Tampa Bay Buccaneers of 1976.

"This team is not down," says Chad Henne, who has played in place of injured No. 1 quarterback Blaine Gabbert the last two weeks. "We're going to keep our spirits high. We know we're getting better in areas. The attitude of this team when I first got here last year was 'never quit. That's what I love about these guys. I think we're only going to get better. We get that first win under our belt, and I think we're going to keep going and they'll come in bunches."

But others aren't so sure the Jaguars won't join the Lions and Bucs in NFL infamy.

They are coming off a 2-14 season that got one-year head coach Mike Mularkey and general manager Gene Smith fired.

They aren't sure they have the answer at quarterback in Gabbert, a first-round pick in 2011 who missed the last two games with a cut on his throwing hand but will start Sunday. Type "Blaine Gabbert" in Google, and the first three options are "Blaine Gabbert," "Blaine Gabbert stats" and "Blaine Gabbert bust."

The Jaguars are last in the league in scoring. They have been outscored 92-28. Their longtime star running back, Maurice Jones-Drew, played on a sore ankle Sunday and has 115 yards rushing in three games.

The Jags are adjusting to a new zone blocking scheme on offense, are starting rookies on both sides of the ball and have turned over about half of the roster since last year.

They were 191/2-point underdogs on the road Sunday vs. Carroll's Seattle Seahawks, for whom Bradley had previously served as defensive coordinator, and they failed to cover the unusually huge spread, losing 45-17.

The Jaguars this week are early nine-point underdogs at home to the Indianapolis Colts. It's possible they'll be dogs the rest of the season.


- FANS GETTING FED UP

Of course, when this happens, the home fans get a little concerned/fidgety/panicky.

They staged a "Let's give Tim Tebow a chance" rally, but the event, held last week outside the team training facility while the Jaguars were thousands of miles away training in San Jose, attracted more news media members than actual disgruntled fans (about 20).

Predictably, Jaguars fans have taken to the Internet to voice their displeasure.

At the end of a blog post on the team's website last week, a commenter named Arnold wrote: "Why not Tebow? Can't be any worse than Henne or Gabbert."

Another, named Paul T, wrote about another then-winless team, the Cleveland Browns, trading away running back Trent Richardson: "We at least aren't broadcasting to the world that 'We suck and our season is done, bring on the #1 pick.'"

Then the Browns went out and won Sunday, beating the Minnesota Vikings 31-27.

That eliminated the Browns as a 0-16 possibility. At least one Las Vegas oddsmaker had listed the three most unlikely teams to get to the Super Bowl as Cleveland, the Oakland Raiders and Jacksonville. The Raiders won a game in Week 2 — against the Jaguars.

So at this point, even though there are five other 0-3 teams out there, it is Jacksonville that stands out as a threat to post a long, long losing streak.

This week's game against the Colts would seem virtually unwinnable. Could a victory come Oct. 6 at the St.Louis Rams? After that, the Jaguars play the Denver Broncos, San Diego Chargers and San Francisco 49ers, so it seems likely they will take a 0-8 record into their bye week.

The Jaguars tune out such negative talk.

"We just rise above it," veteran linebacker Paul Posluszny says. "It's not something we think about. It's early in the year. For us to talk about next season or where we might be, it's a waste of time. We have to focus on where we are right now."

That's a Bradley-Carroll specialty — put everything into the day, the play, the moment.

"Coach Bradley has brought everything down to focusing on each day, one day at a time — completely focusing all your energy and attention on what you're doing right now," Posluszny says. "A lot of times when coaches come in they put the big-picture goals on the board. Win the division. Win the Super Bowl. We've never mentioned that once.

"The approach he takes is unique, something I've never been around. The entire emphasis is on today, getting better today, the competition today in practice. And he says the end result will take care of itself."

- VETERANS PROVIDE PERSPECTIVE

The Jaguars, even though they're a young team that would seem to need to learn how to win, can look to some veterans to help find the way, such as 36-year-old center Brad Meester and 33-year-old defensive end Jason Babin.

"I've been through this before with the Texans," says Babin, who was on a Houston team that started 0-6 and finished 2-14 in 2005. "The world feels like it's on your back. But we have to keep focusing on what we need to do — the fundamentals. That's what has hurt us."

Meester says he thinks last week was a good one for the Jaguars, who stayed on the West Coast between games at Oakland and Seattle, setting up temporary camp at San Jose State's Spartan Stadium.

"It was a great bonding week," Meester says. "Some guys went into San Francisco. Some guys went out to dinner together. It gave us some time to spend together that we don't ordinarily have away from the practice field. It was a good week. I know we got better as a team."

Meester says he has confidence in Gabbert and Henne. Everybody knows Jones-Drew is a big-time player, though he might be on his way downhill. There are rookies and second-year playmakers in the lineup. There are scenarios the Jaguars and their fans can imagine that involve winning not just one game but several.

"We're building something here," Jones-Drew says. "As leaders, all we can do is keep the younger guys going, making sure they understand, keep them positive. Sometimes things like this — I remember five or six years ago I went kind of crazy. That can be something that can ripple through the team. We want to stay positive and keep working.

"It won't be overnight. It's something that will take time."
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09/25/2013 03:15 PM
The obvious question after Indianapolis Colts running back Ahmad Bradshaw bruised his way to 95 yards on 19 carries against the San Francisco 49ers was: How will the carries be divided up once Trent Richardson finds his rhythm?

Don’t worry, there's enough carries to go around for everybody. Offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton will make sure of that.

A lot of media members -- that includes me -- thought Hamilton was just being nice last week when he said nobody will get left out in the backfield. Turns out he was right. Bradshaw was on the field for 30 plays and Richardson got 28 plays against San Francisco. Those two helped the Colts rush for 179 yards in their win.

Richardson will likely end up with more carries than Bradshaw but it won't be by an overwhelming number.

“You know what? That’s how he’s played ever since he’s been in the league, to be honest with you,” coach Chuck Pagano said about Bradshaw. “He runs angry, as we always talk about. He’s got a chip on his shoulder and he’s running that way. He prepares extremely hard. He just wants to win. He knows if he runs that way, he’s going to give our team the best opportunity to win. That’s just how he’s wired and that’s just in his DNA. He doesn’t know any different.”

The addition of Richardson helps a rushing attack that was already effective in its first two games prior to his arrival. The Colts are fourth in the league in rushing at 146.3 yards a game.

Bradshaw’s not in foreign territory when it comes to having to share the load in the backfield. He did it with Brandon Jacobs, Derrick Ward and David Wilson at different times during his six seasons with the New York Giants.

“When you’re able to run the ball like that, it does frustrate a defense,” left tackle Anthony Castonzo said. “I know it helps me out, especially on the edges. It frustrates defensive ends that they can’t just rush the passer all day. It kind of keeps us as the attacker and the fact that we’re able to be multi-dimensional and I imagine that was frustrating for the defense.”
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09/26/2013 01:11 PM
Jaguars tight end Marcedes Lewis is on track to make his season debut on Sunday after missing the first three games with a calf injury.

His return will certainly boost the passing game by giving quarterback Blaine Gabbert a reliable target in the middle of the field. But it also will be a huge help in the run game, as well, and that’s where the Jaguars have really struggled so far in 2013.

"Everyone knows what he can do in the passing game," running back Maurice Jones-Drew said. "What a lot of people underestimate about him is his ability in the run game to block defensive ends and linebackers. He is a guy that we’ve missed."

The 6-foot-6, 272-pound Lewis has caught 272 passes for 3,224 yards and 21 touchdowns in the first seven years of his career. He has a pair of 50-catch seasons and his most productive season came in 2010 when he caught 58 passes for 700 yards and a team-record 10 touchdowns.

His work as a blocker, however, is just as significant. He is regarded as one of the league’s best blocking tight ends and was an integral part of the success that Jones-Drew had in 2011, when he led the league with 1,606 yards rushing.

The Jaguars have struggled to run the ball this season, ranking 30th in yards per game (52.0) and last in yards per attempt (2.4). Jones-Drew has gained only 115 yards in three games and is averaging just 2.6 yards per carry -- a full two yards shy of his career average.

The main reason is the play of the interior of the offensive line. Guards Uche Nwaneri and Will Rackley and center Brad Meester have been pushed around and failed to consistently open holes. Lewis’ return will help because he can seal the edge and also move around to assist on either side.

"Obviously we’re going to do some things to where I’m able to help out a little bit," Lewis said. "But we’re still going to get me out there so I can make some plays down the field."

The Jaguars have had a little more success through the air, although most of the damage has come in the second half when the games have essentially been decided. Lewis, who was limited in practice on Wednesday, will help take some attention away from receiver Cecil Shorts, who has 13 of his 16 receptions in the last two games in the second half.

The other Jaguars receivers -- Ace Sanders, Mike Brown and Stephen Burton -- have a combined 24 career catches. They haven’t developed a level of trust with Gabbert yet, but Lewis has and his return should boost the passing game production.

"He’s another target and he’s a familiar target," offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch said. "Sometimes there is some benefit to having that familiar target and a trustworthy target.

"…I think for sure he’ll help our running game. I don’t think there’s been any doubt about his ability to run block and I think that in itself will help us."
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09/26/2013 01:12 PM
The Colts are taking their desire to avoid a letdown against the winless Jacksonville Jaguars this weekend to another level.

When asked a question not related to Sunday's game, Colts right tackle Gosder Cherilus said "that's something I'll talk about next week," before pointing to the mousetrap -- with cheese on it -- inside a locker.

Most of the players had the traps, which were fake, inside their lockers as a reminder in case they get ahead of themselves after their impressive road victory last weekend against the San Francisco 49ers.

A loss to the Jaguars will make Indianapolis' win against the 49ers less meaningful. Coach Chuck Pagano called the victory the best one the Colts have had since he's been coach, and they want to be able to build on it.

"It's a big week for us," Pagano said. "We know what our ultimate goal is, and the easiest way to get into the [playoffs] is to win the division. So our guys understand the importance of this game and this week."

The Colts are tied with Houston and Tennessee atop the AFC South at 2-1.

The Colts were in a similar situation last season. They came from behind to beat the Green Bay Packers 30-27, only to get blown out by the New York Jets the following week. Quarterback Mark Sanchez threw for only 82 yards, but running back Shonn Greene ran for 161 yards and three touchdowns in their 35-9 win.

The Jaguars are dealing with quarterback problems, but running back Maurice Jones-Drew has averaged almost 107 rushing yards a game against the Colts in his career.

"We've got another road game against a quality opponent and we're going to worry about us," Pagano said. "We're going to do the things that we have to do to get better week in and week out and then go play .... If we take care of the cents, the dollars will come."
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09/27/2013 12:27 PM
Chuck Pagano routinely talks about the ultimate goal of “hoisting the Lombardi”.

And almost every time he mentions that, a phrase of “re-taking the South” usually is followed close by.

Pagano is referring to the AFC South and the goal of seeing his team re-capture that division after years where the Colts would look down on the other three teams in the final regular season standings.

Currently, three teams are tied atop the AFC South at 2-1 and the fact that this is the Colts lone divisional game until the month of November adds some importance to Sunday afternoon.

It’s pretty clear that Pagano’s players have listened to their head coach.

“You know it has an extra ‘oomph’ because the easiest way to get into the dance is to take care of your division,” defensive end Cory Redding said of the Jaguars game.

“Just because it is a division game, it’s a conference game, it does add an extra oomph.”

The Colts seven AFC South banners are mounted on the wall inside of the team’s indoor practice facility.

They serve as a daily reminder in order to have a chance of hoisting the Lombardi (a picture of that trophy is in the middle of the AFC South banners), winning your division gives you at least one home playoff game and punches your ticket into the 12-team tournament.

“It’s different because you realize that the games count just a little bit more and it’s important to get into the postseason,” offensive tackle Anthony Castonzo says.

“Everybody is going to give you their best shot, us included. We’re going to give it our all against Jacksonville this week. It’s intense out there.”

The Jaguars come into Sunday’s game as the only AFC South team that is not tied for first place.

Sitting at 0-3, Jacksonville has struggled out of the gate with a new head coach and starting two different quarterbacks.

This week inside of the Colts locker rooms are tiny mouse traps that are an indication of the Colts not looking ahead to an undefeated Seattle team on Oct. 6 or basking in the glory of last week’s win over the 49ers.

“Jacksonville is in the NFL. It’s one of the 32 teams. They have guys over there with pride and guys want to go out there and make plays and contribute to their team,” Redding said of Sunday’s game.

“This is a divisional game. This is a conference game. We don’t take nobody lightly. You can’t overlook nobody in this league.”

The man who had some say in placing these mousetraps around the Colts locker room is Pagano.

His message has certainly resonated with his players and a win to start off AFC South play would leave a nice taste in the Colts mouth with not playing another divisional game until Nov. 3.

“Everybody is good in the National Football League. Everybody’s got players. Every Sunday is going to be a dogfight,” Pagano said.

“We know that they’re down there preparing and we’ve got to do the same thing. We’ve got to take care of us. If we take care of the cents, the dollars will come.”

INTERESTING MATCHUPS

Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew versus Colts front seven: In last year’s first meeting against the Jaguars, the Colts controlled Maurice Jones-Drew in the first half. MJD broke off a 59-yard touchdown run on his first touch of the third quarter and that score helped Jacksonville to a 22-17 win at Lucas Oil Stadium. MJD has struggled with less than three yards per carry in 2013 but he is looking for his fourth straight game of at least 100 rushing yards against the Colts.

Colts rushing attack versus the Jaguars front seven: Ahmad Bradshaw announced after the 49ers game that him and Trent Richardson were a two-headed monster. Richardson now has a full week with the Colts playbook and with Bradshaw missing practice on Wednesday and Thursday, Richardson could be the lead back on Sunday.
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09/28/2013 11:21 AM
Injury report:

COLTS

OUT: RB Ahmad Bradshaw (neck), DT Ricky Jean Francois (groin), S LaRon Landry (ankle).

QUESTIONABLE: S Joe Lefeged (knee).

PROBABLE: LB Pat Angerer (knee), S Antoine Bethea (toe), WR T.Y. Hilton (toe), C Samson Satele (elbow).


JAGUARS:

OUT: WR Mike Brown (back), WR Stephen Burton (concussion), CB Dwayne Gratz (ankle), S Dwight Lowery (concussion).

PROBABLE: CB Alan Ball (groin), CB Will Blackmon (head), QB Blaine Gabbert (right hand), RB Maurice Jones-Drew (ankle), TE Marcedes Lewis (calf), DT Roy Miller (elbow, knee), G Uche Nwaneri (knee), LB J.T. Thomas (hamstring).
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09/29/2013 08:19 AM
Pick: Jags +8.5

This stinky pick is the only way to go in this game. This line is inflated after the big win against the 49ers.
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