Rookie Andrew Luck and the (5-3) Indianapolis Colts travel to Jacksonville to take on the (1-7) Jacksonville Jaguars (8.20pm ET, Thursday). Although the Colts lead the overall series 15-8, the Jaguars are coming off three consecutive victories over Indianapolis including a 22-17 victory earlier this season.
Andrew Luck – Leading the Colts to Success
When Peyton Manning injured his collarbone and many believed he was done for his career, the Colts struggled to really do anything on offense without him. He missed the entire 2011 season and the Colts imploded from the start, losing thirteen in a row and finishing the season with just a 2-14 record.
Their lack of success did result in a silver lining however, as the Colts had the first overall pick and used it to draft the most polished college product, Stanford alum Andrew Luck (pictured).
Taking over for Manning left Luck with huge shoes to fill but the Colts believed in him enough to take him and not the explosive Robert Griffin III out of Baylor. They believed Luck was a better fit for their team and that he had more upside.
While the question of upside is far from being determined, what we can look it is how both Luck and RG III have performed this season.
- Robert Griffin III (WAS) 2012 Stats: 9 GP, 65.6 CMP%, 1,993 YDS, 8 TD, 3 INT
- Andre Luck (IND) 2012 Stats: 8 GP, 56.5 CMP%, 2,404 YDS, 10 TD, 8 INT
The stats are relatively even if you look at Luck leading in two categories and Griffin also taking two categories. That said, a large part of RG III’s game is rushing which isn’t included here. He has an additional 6 touchdowns and 529 yards on the ground whereas Luck has 148 yards and three rushing touchdowns. Adding in these numbers makes the two virtually the same, in terms of stats.
What isn’t shown though is that RG III gets all of the national media attention whereas Luck has quietly led the Colts to a better record and overall, has been a more valuable asset to the team.
Despite opening the season with a loss against the (7-1) Chicago Bears, Luck performed very well. He did throw three interceptions but again, this was against a defense that has forced the most turnovers and frustrated even veteran quarterbacks. Luck did manage to throw for 309 yards however, something neither Aaron Rodgers nor Matthew Stafford, two incredible throwing quarterbacks, could do against this defense. For Luck, this was his first of so far four games in which he has thrown over 300 yards, including last week’s game which saw him set a rookie record with 433 passing yards. The week before, he just missed 300 with 297 yards against the Tennessee Titans.
Luck has been able to attack both good and bad passing defenses with fervor. He also has seemed to improve or at the very least take instruction, to make him a better player. He has thrown more than one interception just once after week one and is coming off a stretch that has seen his passer rating improve as well.
The rookie should look to have a good game against the Jags as not only is his confidence at an all-time high coming off three straight wins, his feel for the game improving with each week and the experience in late game situations building up, but also, he will be up against the 25th ranked passing defense that allows 255.5 yards a game to opposing quarterbacks, which is under his per game average of 300.5.
Defining the Jaguars Identity without Running Back Maurice Jones Drew
Since 2006, the 27-year-old Maurice Jones Drew, has been a vital part of the Jacksonville offense both in the running and passing game. In the past three seasons, Jones-Drew rushed for at least 1,300 yards and a total of 28 touchdowns. In the passing game, he caught passes for over 300 yards each season and a total of six touchdowns. This season, he has just over 400 yards and has been sidelined for an undisclosed period of time with injury.
With MJD, the Jags have one of the best rushing attacks in all of the NFL. Without him however, they have no offense and more importantly, they have no identity.
Led by second year quarterback Blaine Gabbert, the Jaguars are dead last, ranking 32nd with just over 170 passing yards a game. They score on average, just 14.6 points a game and have just 254.4 yards of total offense, both numbers also 32nd in the NFL.
In rushing yards, the Jags are ranked only slightly better with 84 yards a game. Some of these numbers are from Jones-Drew, who has only once eclipsed the 100 yard mark on the season, doing so in the Jags’ only win against the Colts. The rest is because of MJD’s back-up Rashad Jennings, who hasn’t been able to break 60 yards on the ground in the three games where he received north of 12 carries.
Even with MJD, the Jaguars are far from being even an adequate NFL team. Their offensive line is mediocre when at its best and has really fallen apart in terms of enabling Jones-Drew and Jennings to take off on the ground.
Against the Colts, this offense will once again likely be halted. Indy boasts the league’s 11th best passing defense, allowing just 221.5 yards per game, which is much higher than the 170 the Jaguars manage. Their biggest weakness however is in the running game, ranked just 25th. The problem for the Jags however is that MJD is still out and that he looks to be absent for the foreseeable future. As a result, Jacksonville probably won’t be able to exploit the hole the Colts have in protecting against the run.
Indianapolis Colts at Jacksonville Jaguars Betting Picks Verdict
- All signs point to the Colts notching their fourth consecutive win. They are favored by three and should easily be able to cover this spread. Bet on them -3pts @ -115 with BetOnline Sportsbook. It is -4pts @ -105 with Bovada.
- Expect a low scoring affair as well, likely to go well under the 42 line. Go under that 42 total with BetOnline Sportsbook @ -110. It is under 42.5pts for the same odds with Bovada.
- NOTE to Non-Americans: Place these bets with Bet365.