The Jacksonville Jaguars host the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday to close out the season. The Jaguars lost to the Atlanta Falcons last week, 24-12, while the Colts upended the Carolina Panthers, 38-6. Indianapolis defeated Jacksonville by a score of 33-13 in week 11.
Colts gallop past PanthersNyheim Hines averaged 65 yards on three punt returns, as he took two of them to the house and set up another score in the Colts victory over the Panthers. They needed help from their special teams with quarterback Jacoby Brissett throwing for just 119 yards on 14-27 passing. Running back Marlon Mack had his best game in more than a month with 95 yards on 16 carries for a 5.9 yard average.
The Colts had high expectations coming into this season. Quarterback Andrew Luck led them to the Divisional Round of the playoffs last year after completing 67.3% of his passes for 4,593 yards and 39 touchdowns. Another big year from him was expected. Then came the unexpected. The 29-year-old abruptly announced that he was retiring in August shortly before the beginning of the season. This thrust Brissett into the starting role. After a tough opening day loss, a 30-24 overtime defeat at the hands of the Los Angeles Chargers, Brissett led the Colts to wins in five of their next six games to begin the season with a 5-2 record. The wheels began to fall off the cart in week nine as Brissett got injured early in a two-point loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. He also missed the following game, which was a 16-12 loss to the lowly Miami Dolphins. Brissett returned to lead the Colts to a 33-13 win over Jacksonville in week 11, but things have been rough for the Colts since. They have won just one of their last five games to fall out of the playoff picture.
Since his return, Brissett has thrown for less than 170 yards in four of the six games. He has thrown for 2,780 yards for the season and 18 touchdowns, while throwing just six interceptions, which is tied for ninth-best in the league. Mack went over the 1,000 yard mark last week for the first time in his three-year career. He has 1,014 yards on 232 carries. Brissett likes to spread the ball around, as four Colts have between 40 and 42 catches, with Zach Pascal leading in receiving yards with 597 yards on 40 catches. The Colts are averaging 22.7 points per game.
Jaguars fall to the FalconsThe Jaguars fell behind 14-0 just 5:32 into the game, and could never recover as they lost their sixth game in their last seven. Gardner Minshew II completed less than 42% of his passes in the loss for just 181 yards. The Falcons outgained the Jaguars 518-288 in the game. It has been a strange season for Jacksonville, who signed Nick Foles in the offseason to be their starting quarterback. However, eight passes into his Jaguars career, Foles was sidelined with an injury, meaning that the Jaguars would have to rely on their backup quarterback, just like the Colts. They turned to Minshew, who led them to a 4-4 record in his eight starts following the Foles injury, which included two 300-yard passing performances.
Foles eturned in week 11, with the team sitting at 4-5. They lost the next two games by 20 points or more, and when Foles turned the ball over on his first three possessions against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, head coach Doug Marrone went back to Minshew. Besides a four-point win over Oakland in week 15, the second half of the season has been a disaster for Jacksonville. Their six losses in the second half have come by 23, 20, 22, 17, 35, and 12 points.
Minshew voiced his frustration with the team's season after the game.
"It's very disappointing for everybody in this room," Minshew said on ESPN.com. "Losing's not going to be OK here. Mediocrity is not going to be OK."
Minshew, who had only one game where he threw for less than 204 yards in the first half of the season, hasn't thrown for more than 201 yards in the four games since being reinstated in the lineup. He has thrown for nearly 3,000 yards and has 18 touchdown passes and just five interceptions. He has an 89.8 passer rating. Leonard Fournette is seventh in the NFL with 1,152 yards, but is listed as questionable for the Colts game with a neck injury. DJ Chark, Jr. leads the Jacksonville receiving corps with 974 yards on 69 receptions and eight touchdowns, which is tied for eighth best in the league. He is also listed as questionable with an ankle injury. The Jaguars average just 17.5 points per game.
Trends found on oddsshark.com:
- The Jaguars are 1-6 ATS in their last seven games overall
- The Jaguars are 1-4 ATS in their last five home games
- The Colts are 7-1 ATS in their last eight games versus an AFC South opponent