First things first……Ahmad Bradshaw is officially out for Sunday’s game at Jacksonville. While normally I would consider this a huge loss, I don’t think his absence will result in a loss for the team. Trent Richardson has another week of “learning” under his belt, and Donald Brown should fill in admirably as a backup. Listen to me singing the praises of Donald Brown. Maybe I’m a changed man! Truth be told, the Richardson and Brown will have to be workhorses this week as there are no other “healthy” running backs on the roster except Stanley Havili who is really a full back. I’m still not worried. I fully expect us to gain close to our 148 rushing yards per game average. While the Colts have not been good at stopping the run this season (yielding 4.7 YPR), the Jags have been horrible at stopping the run (5.2 YPR). They have given up 503 yards on 97 carries – the second most yards given up in the league. I have little concern about the Colts ability to run the ball on Sunday.
It’s surprising the the Colts passing game is ranked 26th in the league at 204.7 YPP. This is a function of their success at running the ball – not due to inferior play. If the Colts wanted to throw the ball for 400+ yards a game, they could. Luck is that type of quarterback. They don’t need this from Luck. While the Jaguars’ defense is 9th in the league in pass defense at 202.7 YPP, don’t be fooled. The Jags have been outscored early and often. As a result, teams run the ball against them as they don’t need to pass (and play catch-up). Although the Jags are holding teams to just 202.7 YPP, opposing quarterbacks have a 108.9 passer rating – 7th highest in the league (vs. any team). Opponents are also completing passes at a rate that is 11th best in the league (vs. any team). The Jaguars defense is bad. The Colts offense is good.
As mentioned earlier, the Colts defense has trouble stopping the run. The numbers are skewed a bit based on Terrell Pryor breaking off some big runs against the Colts, but the numbers still aren’t great. The Colts have always struggled against Maurice Jones-Drew although I feel Sunday could be a different story. The Jags are rushing the ball for just 2.3 yard per carry this season – 67 rushes for 156 yards. The Colts average 148 yards PER GAME! MJD is also nursing an ankle injury. While he will play, it’s likely he will not be 100%.
So if the Jags are down early and often, and if they can’t run the ball, maybe they’re having success throwing the ball (you know, come from behind style where they’re forced to throw the ball). The Jags throw the ball an average of 39 times per game but only complete 53% of their passes for 178 yards. Their team passer rating of an abysmal 57.4 is last in the league. The Colts are 11th in the league in defending the pass. Wide receivers Stephen Burton and Mike Brown will not play on Sunday which will further hinder their passing game. Cornerback Dwayne Gratz and safety Dwight Lowery will be out as well which doesn’t bode well for the Jags defense.
In addition to Ahmad Bradshaw, we know that the Colts will be without Ricky Jean-Francois and LaRon Landry. Again, not concerned. If we don’t win this one by 2 touchdowns, it will be a huge disappointment. This does have the chance to be a letdown game after last week’s tough road victory and next week’s home game against the Seahawks. Again, I’m not concerned. I see the Colts winning this one in a big way – Colts 31 Jaguars 13.