The Jaguars are taking on the Indianapolis Colts this Sunday. It'll be the first time the two teams have faced off in 2018. In 2017 the Colts were the Jaguars whipping boy, but this year's version of the Colts appears to be back on track, thanks in large part to the return of Andrew Luck. The Colts are 3-5, winners of two straight — albeit against two of the worst teams in football — and feel that they can play with anyone.
To start our examination of these Colts, lets take a look at their offense.
PASSING GAME: The Colts passing game has taken off once again. Andrew Luck appears to be every bit the QB that he was before his year long absence from the field. He may not quite have the zip on the ball that he used to, but he still has a better arm than 95% of the QBs in the league. He's not the only reason the Colts passing attack has regained it's former glory, but he is the biggest reason. He's the catalyst for their turnaround. Luck is averaging over 270 yards per game through the air and completing over 65% of his passes, but his most impressive statistical feat so far is his 23 passing touchdowns in just eight games. He's on pace to throw 46 TD passes this season. Luck is on a hot streak right now, throwing seven TD passes to zero interceptions in his last two contests.
Luck is the straw that stirs the drink in Indy, but he's not the only reason for the passing game's success in 2018.
The offensive line, a group that's been heavily invested in in recent years is starting to pay dividends. The O-line has allowed just 10 sacks on the year and has provided Luck with the time he needs in the pocket to find open receivers...
... speaking of open receivers the Colts receivers have been impressive this season. Eric Ebron and Jack Doyle (depsite missing several games) comprise a solid tight end group in terms of receiving. Ebron has seven TD catches on the year. The oft forgotten Eric Swoope has scored three touchdowns on just seven catches. The Colts wide outs have been having a big year as well. Led by TY Hilton the WRs for the Colts have found the end zone eight times this year. And the RBs have been doing their part in the passing game too, particularly Nyheim Hines, who is second on the team in receptions.
Another big reason for the success of the passing game so far? Frank Reich, who was not the team's first choice at head coach, has employed more west coast principles than the Colts have used in years past. Andrew Luck is able to get the ball out of his hands quickly. Now, they'll still use Luck's big arm on deep shots, but the passing attack is much more methodical than it once was in Indy.
RUNNING GAME: The Colts rushing attack has come to life in recent weeks. On the season they average over 117 yards per game on the ground and 4.7 yards per carry. But in their last two games the running game exploded. Marlon Mack is looking like he might be the real deal for the Colts. He's rushed for 132 yards and 126 yards in his last two performances. The interior of the Colts offensive line has been opening up big holes for the Colts backs to rush through and their emphasis on running the ball has payed dividends recently.
In Summary: This is an offense led by Andrew Luck and his big arm. They have speedy receivers on the outside and in the slot and will use their running backs out of the backfield quite a bit. Their quick throws could cause trouble for the Jaguars stout secondary, especially with AJ Bouye out. But the Jaguars biggest concern has to be stopping the run. If they can force the Colts to be one dimensional on offense then the Jaguars will likely find success defensively. It'll be tough to get much pressure on Luck in this one with how well the offensive line is playing and how quickly he's getting rid of the ball, but the Jaguars have got to get something out of Yannick Ngakoue and Calais Campbell in the pass rush department this week.
It's going to be difficult to slow down this confident Colts offense in week 10, but this is do or die for Jacksonville. It should be a fun matchup to watch unfold.
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