If the playoffs were to start today, rookie phenom Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts would head to Denver for a matchup against his predecessor Peyton Manning.
What a story that would be.
But the 2012 NFL season is only half complete and the Colts have a long road ahead to make a playoff appearance a reality. That road begins Thursday.
A win over division rival Jacksonville Jaguars on Sportsnet Thursday night would give Indianapolis their sixth win of the season, a good start to the second half and another important step towards the playoffs.
EVERBANK FIELD — 8 PM
Line: Colts -3 Over/Under: 43
Jaguars injury report:
Montell Owens, RB: Shoulder – Probable
Brad Meester, C: Foot – Probable
Blaine Gabbert, QB: Shoulder – Probable
Derek Cox, CB: Back – Probable
Rashean Mathis, CB: Groin – Questionable
Maurice Jones-Drew, RB: Foot – Out
Greg Jones, RB, Hip – Out
Dwight Lowery, S: Ankle – Out
Colts injury report:
Dwight Freeney, LB: Ankle – Probable
Pat Angerer, LB: Foot – Probable
Samsom Satele, C: Back – Questionable
Winston Justice, OT: Knee – Questionable
Donald Brown, RB: Knee – Questionable
Donnie Avery, WR: Hip – Questionable
Robert Mathis, LB: Back – Out
Coby Fleener, TE: Shoulder – Out
Jerraud Powers, CB: Toe – Out
Vontae Davis, CB: Knee – Out
COLTS (5-3) VS. JAGUARS (1-7)
The swift progression of rookie Andrew Luck and the courageous spirit of ailing coach Chuck Pagano have helped turn the Indianapolis Colts into a playoff contender.
Mired in a five-game skid, the Jacksonville Jaguars are simply trying to get a win.
Luck looks to lead the visiting Colts to a fourth consecutive win and into the thick of the playoff race on Thursday night when they try to avenge an earlier loss to the Jaguars, who hope to avoid a franchise-record fifth straight home defeat.
Indy was powered by Luck in its latest win. He went 30-of-48 and broke Cam Newton’s single-game rookie record with 433 yards, and threw two touchdowns in a 23-20 win over Miami.
Indianapolis fell in its first matchup with the Jaguars despite totaling 437 yards. The Colts appeared to be in control with a 14-3 halftime lead before getting dominated in the final two periods. Maurice Jones-Drew ran for 177 yards and a score to lead Jacksonville to its third straight win in the series.
The season has since gone downhill for the Jaguars, who will be without Jones-Drew for a third straight game because of a foot injury. Jacksonville has not lost six in a row since a slide of that length spanning the 2002 and ’03 seasons.
The Jaguars managed 279 yards and didn’t score until the fourth quarter of a 31-14 home loss to Detroit on Sunday. They have been outscored 126-34 in going 0-4 in Jacksonville. They are last in the NFL in total offense (254.4) and scoring (14.6).
Blaine Gabbert has a 78.4 passer rating in 2012, but he’s 3-0 against the Colts despite completing 57.4 percent of his passes for an average of 121.7 yards.
- with files from Associated Press
Not only has Luck thrown for as many yards as Peyton Manning, he’s only thrown one interception during the Colts current three game winning streak. These are all very impressive numbers for a rookie who is only going to get better as he gains more experience.
Luck is more proof of the old adage that you cannot win in the NFL with-out a good quarterback. Just ask the sad sack Jaguars, because while Gabbert isn’t the worst quarterback in the NFL, he’s not far off.
Led by Luck the Colts are ranked third in the NFL in third down conversions while Gabbert and the Jags are tied for 29th, which is a big reason why Jacksonville is the lowest scoring team in the NFL.
Defensively the Jaguars have allowed a whopping 12 rushing touchdowns already this season. To compound their issues they are also dead last in the NFL with only eight quarterback sacks. Unless the Jags can find a way to get some pressure on Luck they don’t stand much of a chance stopping the Colts offense.
As much as Luck has garnered headlines for his play as a rookie it is the play of 12 year veteran Reggie Wayne that deserves equal praise. Going into Week 10, Wayne leads the entire NFL in receiving yardage and has 15 catches over 20 yards.
With a win over the Jaguars the Colts would improve to 6-3 and into consideration for a Wild Card spot in the AFC.
The galvanizing force for the Colts this year has been their ailing Head Coach Chuck Pagano. While Pagano continues to battle Leukemia, Luck and a large number of the Colts players shaved their head in support of their coach.
There really is nothing galvanizing the Jaguars, except losing. With Jones-Drew still injured the only offensive ‘threat’ the Jaguars have to work with is receiver Cecil Shorts. The Colts know this as well and will pay extra attention to him in pass coverage.
Earlier this week Jaguars owner Shahid Khan deemed his team’s 1-7 start to be “sad and embarrassing”. With so little playmakers on offense to work with, Mike Mularkey is doomed to be jobless at the end of the season. Mr. Khan’s mood won’t improve if Luck and the Colts walk into EverBank Field and beat his Jaguars on national television.