2020 Colts Preview: Colts/Jaguars, Week 17

The Indianapolis Colts (10-5) wrap up the regular season on Sunday with their Week 17 AFC South divisional clash against the Jacksonville Jaguars (1-14). A win for the Colts, matched with at least one favorable outcome elsewhere, and they can punch their ticket to the playoffs. Check out the official game preview.

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INDIANAPOLIS — It's all come down to this.

After 16 long, grueling weeks in a season that won't soon be forgotten due to all the twists and turns created by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday wrap up the 2020 regular season with a home divisional matchup that could have all sorts of playoff implications.

The Colts (10-5) play host to the Jacksonville Jaguars (1-14) at Lucas Oil Stadium, knowing they most likely need to get a win, coupled with at least one favorable outcome elsewhere, so they can punch their ticket to the postseason party.

Kickoff is at 4:25 p.m. ET.

Indianapolis is coming off a gut-wrenching 28-24 road loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in which the Colts jumped out to a 24-7 lead by midway through the third quarter, but would ultimately see the Steelers battle all the way back with a 21-0 run to end the ballgame. The loss stung even more later in the night, when the Green Bay Packers wrapped up a dominant 40-14 victory over the Tennessee Titans; had the Colts been able to hold off the Steelers, they'd be heading into today's game against the Jaguars in sole possession of first place in the AFC South Division race. Instead, the Colts are currently on the outside looking in for an AFC playoff spot, though they do have a chance to sneak back in at the last minute today.

The Jaguars, meanwhile, suffered their franchise-record 14th straight loss last Sunday, falling to the Chicago Bears, 41-17, at TIAA Bank Stadium. The loss for Jacksonville officially clinched the team the No. 1-overall pick in next year's NFL Draft. The game was close heading into halftime — Chicago led by just three, 13-10 — but the Bears would score 28 unanswered points over the next 20 or so minutes to put this one away and stay relevant in their own NFC playoff race.

So what all should we be looking for when this thing kicks off? Here is the official game preview.

BROADCAST INFORMATION

  • Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021, at 4:25 p.m. ET
  • Indianapolis; Lucas Oil Stadium
  • TV: CBS — Andrew Catalon (play-by-play), James Lofton (color) and Sherree Burruss (sideline)
  • Other radio: Compass Media Networks — Bill Rosinski (play-by-play) and Brian Baldinger (color)
  • Colts Official App (*Geographic and device restrictions apply. Local & primetime games only. Data charges may apply.)
  • Colts.com mobile website (Safari browser ONLY)
  • Yahoo! Sports mobile browser or app
  • Click here for MORE WAYS TO WATCH.
  • To find out what games will be on in your area, click here.
  • Local radio: Colts games can be heard in Indianapolis on 93.5, 107.5 and 1070 The Fan and 97.1 HANK FM, plus the desktop version of Colts.com with Matt Taylor (play-by-play), Rick Venturi (color), Larra Overton (sideline) and Bill Brooks (pregame/postgame analyst) on the call.
  • National radio: Fans can listen to the live local call on Colts.com (desktop only) and NFL Game Pass. Get your free seven-day trial by clicking here.

*Please check your local TV listing to confirm availability. iOS mobile web and app users should "Allow Location Access" (via Settings > Privacy > Location Services > Safari).

ALL-TIME SERIES

  • Colts lead, 24-15; Colts are 14-5 all-time against the Jaguars at home.
  • Last game — Week 1 of 2020; Jaguars won, 27-20, at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, Fla.
  • Of note: The Colts have played the Jaguars in five previous regular-season finales, dating back to 2002. Indy is 3-2 in those matchups, with all three of its wins coming at home. The Colts last wrapped up their regular season schedule at home against the Jaguars in 2016, a 24-20 victory that was the final game in the legendary career of Colts pass rusher Robert Mathis, who finished the contest with three tackles, including one of his famous sack-forced fumbles, which he also happened to recover.

COACHING STAFF

Colts:

  • HC Frank Reich
  • OC Nick Sirianni
  • DC Matt Eberflus
  • STC Bubba Ventrone

Jaguars:

  • HC Doug Marrone
  • OC Jay Gruden
  • DC Todd Wash
  • STC Joe DeCamillis

LAST WEEK

Colts:

  • Lost at Pittsburgh Steelers (12-3), 28-24

Jaguars:

  • Lost vs. Chicago Bears (8-7), 41-17

See the best images from Heinz Field as the Indianapolis Colts faced the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 16.

INJURY UPDATE

Colts:

  • OUT — T Will Holden (ankle), S Khari Willis (concussion), CB Rock Ya-Sin (concussion)
  • DOUBTFUL — N/A
  • QUESTIONABLE — N/A

Click here to read more on the injury report for Sunday's game.

Jaguars:

  • OUT — WR DJ Chark Jr. (shin), WR Collin Johnson (hamstring), RB James Robinson (ankle)
  • DOUBTFUL — N/A
  • QUESTIONABLE — RB Nathan Cottrell (hip)

STORYLINES/THINGS TO WATCH

  • Take care of business — You've heard the phrase "control what you can control" over and over throughout the years around the NFL, but that will be especially true for the Colts on Sunday. While there are quite a few scenarios for Indy to wiggle its way back into the playoff picture at the last minute on Sunday, none of it will matter if the team can't take care of its own business and defeat the league's worst team (whose only win of the season, by the way, came at the Colts' expense back in Week 1). What will help, however, is that by this 4:25 p.m. ET kickoff, three of the four games that matter to the Colts and their playoff hopes will have already been played and likely wrapped up; the Colts basically need to beat the Jaguars and have either the Miami Dolphins, Cleveland Browns or Baltimore Ravens lose to earn a Wild Card spot, and all three of those teams' games kick off at 1 p.m. ET. Now, there will be another game of major interest going on at the same time as the Colts' matchup against the Jaguars: the Tennessee Titans, at 10-5, have the same record as Indy, but can claim the AFC South Division title with a road win over the Houston Texans; their game at NRG Stadium also kicks off at 4:25 p.m. ET. But if the Colts can defeat the Jaguars and the Titans somehow fall to the Texans, Indianapolis will have claimed its first division title since 2014 (and the home playoff game that comes with it).
  • Complete effort? — The glass-half-full crowd would say, at least, that Indy has had extremely strong halves throughout the season from its offensive, defensive and special teams units. Those whose standards are a bit more strict, meanwhile, would likely say that the best teams figure out a way to put it all together for an entire 60 minutes. The first half of last Sunday's game against the Steelers was perhaps the Colts' best all-around effort of the season; they were a Philip Rivers' strip sack recovered inside the Indy 5-yard line away from going into halftime leading at least 21-0. The second half, however, was quite the opposite for the Colts, who jumped out to a 24-7 third quarter lead, but had absolutely zero answers on offense or defense once Pittsburgh started rolling from there, and ended up on the wrong end of a 21-0 run to lose 28-24. We've seen strong starts by the Colts' offense pretty much the entire season, but then the unit tends to slow down a bit with mixed results the rest of the way; we've also seen an Indy defense mostly struggle in the first half of games, but figure out a way to tighten things up over the final two quarters. Whether or not the Colts end up making the postseason by the end of the day Sunday, they just want to have one game with a complete, dominating effort in all three phases to wrap up the 2020 regular season.
  • Milestone watch — The last game of the regular season typically brings with it a few player milestones worth keeping an eye on. Running back Jonathan Taylor, for example, needs 84 rushing yards to reach 1,000 on the season; he would become just the fifth rookie in franchise history to reach that plateau, and the first since Joseph Addai in 2006. With one touchdown pass, quarterback Philip Rivers will pass Dan Marino (420) for the fifth-most TD passes in NFL history; with 12 passes attempted, meanwhile, Rivers will pass Eli Manning (8,119) for sixth in league history in that category. Linebacker Darius Leonard needs six tackles to pass Patrick Willis (411) for the second-most tackles by a player in their first 42 games (since 1987). And with one field goal made, Rodrigo Blankenship will pass Raul Allegre (30) for the most field goals made by a rookie in franchise history.

INTRIGUING MATCHUPS

  • Colts RT Braden Smith vs. Jaguars DE Dawuane Smoot: Smoot, the Jaguars' third-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft out of Illinois, seems to be blossoming a bit after playing more of a reserve role his first three seasons in the league. Four of his 5.5 sacks on the season have come in the last five weeks, and he also has a respectable 17 quarterback hits, five tackles for loss and two forced fumbles. He'll line up on both edges pretty equally, but tends to play a little bit more on the left side opposite the right tackle. Smith, meanwhile, returns to the lineup after missing last Sunday's loss to the Steelers after being placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list two days before the game. It was the Week 1 loss to the Jaguars that Smith allowed his one and only quarterback hit of the season, and it was to Smoot, though the edge rusher was called for roughing the passer on Philip Rivers on the Colts' final offensive drive of the game.
  • Colts RB Jonathan Taylor vs. Jaguars LB Joe Schobert: Schobert and Smoot have, really, been the only two Jaguars defenders worth writing home about this season. After four solid seasons with the Cleveland Browns, Schobert has certainly been as advertised in his first year in Jacksonville, entering Sunday's game having collected 132 total tackles (six for a loss) with 2.5 sacks, six quarterback hits, three interceptions (one returned for a touchdown), four passes defensed and two forced fumbles. Taylor, meanwhile, has emerged down the stretch as one of the best running backs in the NFL; since Week 11, Taylor ranks sixth in the league in rushing yards (488), tied for sixth in rushing touchdowns (five), seventh in rushing average (5.48) and is second in runs of 10-plus yards (18).
  • Colts DT Grover Stewart vs. Jaguars RB Dare Ogunbowale: The Colts as a team had their best PFF run defense grade of the season last week against the Steelers — and it wasn't even close; Indy had a 90.4 grade on the day, topping the Week 4 performance against the Chicago Bears (76.3) by almost 15 points. Stewart had two tackles on the day, including a tackle for a loss of one midway through the first quarter. Stewart had four tackles back in Week 1 against the Jaguars, helping limit Jacksonville to 23 carries for 91 yards (4.0 avg.) on the day, with undrafted rookie James Robinson accounting for 16 carries for 62 yards (3.9 avg.) in his NFL debut, which was his fifth-lowest yardage total of the season. But Robinson, who missed last Sunday's loss to the Bears with an ankle injury, also has already been ruled out of this 2020 season finale against the Colts; the Jaguars' running back duties are turned over to Ogunbowale, who had 14 carries for 71 yards, including an impressive 25-yard run, last week. The Colts always take a stop-the-run approach first on defense, and that won't change now that Robinson is out and Ogunbowale is in.
  • Colts CB Xavier Rhodes vs. Jaguars WR Keelan Cole Sr.: Rhodes and the Colts were able to limit DJ Chark Jr., the Jaguars' top wide receiver, to just three receptions for 25 yards back in their Week 1 matchup, although he still was able to notch a six-yard touchdown reception to tie the game at 7 midway through the second quarter. But the team announced Friday that Chark Jr. has been ruled out of Sunday's game due to a shin injury, which means top receiver status goes to Cole Sr., who had five receptions for 47 yards and a touchdown against the Colts back in their Week 1 matchup. Cole has had a very respectable season for a No. 2 receiver without a stable starter at quarterback; in 15 games he has 52 receptions for 619 yards and five touchdowns. Rhodes, meanwhile, has had a solid first season with the Colts; in 15 games he has 39 total tackles with two interceptions (one returned for a touchdown) and 12 passes defensed; his 15.3 coverage snaps per reception is the third-best mark among qualifying cornerbacks in the NFL, according to PFF.

REFEREE ASSIGNMENT

BETTING LINE

REGULAR SEASON LEADERS

Colts:

  • Passing — QB Philip Rivers (4,005 yards)
  • Rushing — RB Jonathan Taylor (916 yards)
  • Receiving — WR T.Y. Hilton (735 yards)
  • Touchdowns — RB Jonathan Taylor (10)
  • Tackles — LB Darius Leonard (122)
  • Sacks — DT/DE Denico Autry, DT DeForest Buckner, DE Justin Houston (7.5 each)
  • Interceptions — CB Kenny Moore II (4)

Jaguars:

  • Passing — QB Gardner Minshew II (2,259 yards)
  • Rushing — RB James Robinson (1,070 yards)
  • Receiving — WR DJ Chark Jr. (706 yards)
  • Touchdowns — RB James Robinson (10)
  • Tackles — LB Joe Schobert (132)
  • Sacks — DE Dawuane Smoot (5.5)
  • Interceptions — LB Joe Schobert (3)

COMPARING 2020 STATS

Colts:

  • Total offense — 14th (374.1 YPG)
  • Scoring — 9th (28.2 PPG)
  • Passing offense — 8th (259.3 YPG)
  • Sack percentage allowed — 5th (3.99)
  • Rushing offense — 16th (114.9 YPG)
  • Third down offense — 23rd (40.11 percent)
  • Red zone offense — Tied-17th (58.93)
  • Total defense — 8th (335.3 YPG)
  • Scoring defense — Tied-12th (23.2 PPG)
  • Passing defense — 18th (242.5 YPG)
  • Sacks — Tied-15th (34)
  • Rushing defense — 2nd (92.9 YPG)
  • Third down defense — 21st (43.09 percent)
  • Red zone defense — 13th (60.00 percent)
  • Time of possession — 12th (30:50)
  • Turnover differential — Tied-3rd (+10)

Jaguars:

  • Total offense — 26th (329.0 YPG)
  • Scoring — Tied-29th (19.5 PPG)
  • Passing offense — 20th (231.3 YPG)
  • Sack percentage allowed — 19th (6.62)
  • Rushing offense — 27th (97.7 YPG)
  • Third down offense — 16th (41.15 percent)
  • Red zone offense — 19th (58.14 percent)
  • Total defense — 32nd (416.4 YPG)
  • Scoring defense — 31st (30.9 PPG)
  • Passing defense — 27th (271.1 YPG)
  • Sacks — 30th (18)
  • Rushing defense — 30th (145.3 YPG)
  • Third down defense — 23rd (44.15 percent)
  • Red zone defense — 25th (64.41 percent)
  • Time of possession — 30th (27:42)
  • Turnover differential — 28th (-8)

NOTES AND QUOTES

• Kicker Rodrigo Blankenship:

— With four points, he will tie Cary Blanchard (135 in 1996) for the fifth-most single-season points in franchise history.

— With five points, he will pass Cary Blanchard (135 in 1996) for the fifth-most single-season points in franchise history.

— With one field goal made, he will pass Raul Allegre (30) for the most field goals made by a rookie in franchise history.

• Defensive tackle DeForest Buckner:

— With one solo tackle, he will reach 200 career solo tackles.

• Cornerback T.J. Carrie:

— With one defensive or special teams return for a touchdown, he will tie Ray Buchanan and Terrence Wilkins (three) for the most such touchdowns in single-season franchise history.

• Cornerback T.J. Carrie, cornerback Kenny Moore II, cornerback Xavier Rhodes & safety Khari Willis:

— With one interception returned for a touchdown, they will tie numerous players for the second-most interceptions returned for a touchdown (two) in single-season franchise history.

• Tight end Jack Doyle:

— With one reception, he will pass Marcus Pollard (263) for the third-most receptions by a tight end in team history.

• Wide receiver T.Y. Hilton:

— With one touchdown, he will pass Jimmy Orr (50) and tie Marshall Faulk (51) for the eighth-most total touchdowns in team history.

— With one receiving touchdown, he will tie Jimmy Orr (50) for the fourth-most receiving touchdowns in team history.

— With two receiving touchdowns, he will pass Jimmy Orr (50) for the fourth-most receiving touchdowns in team history.

— With one game with 10+ receptions, he will pass Don McCauley, Lydell Mitchell, Joe Washington, Anthony Johnson and Dallas Clark, all with three, for the third-most games with 10+ receptions in team history.

• Running back Nyheim Hines:

— With five receptions, he will tie Bill Brooks (170) for the fourth-most receptions by a Colts player in their first three seasons.

— With six receptions, he will pass Bill Brooks (170) for the fourth-most receptions by a Colts player in their first three seasons.

• Defensive end Justin Houston:

— Needs 3.0 sacks to reach 100.0 for his career. He would become the 35th player in NFL history to reach that plateau since sacks became an official statistic in 1982.

— With one safety, he will pass Ted Hendricks, Doug English and Jared Allen (four) for the most safeties in NFL history.

• Linebacker Darius Leonard:

— With five tackles, he will tie Patrick Willis (411) for the second-most tackles by a player in their first 42 career games (since 1987).

— With six tackles, he will pass Patrick Willis (411) for the second-most tackles by a player in their first 42 career games (since 1987).

• Safety George Odum:

— With one special teams tackle, he will become just the seventh player in franchise history to register at least 20 special teams tackles in a single season (since 1994).

— With one special teams tackle, he will tie Derwin Gray (20 in 1995) and Robert Mathis (20 in 2005) for the fifth-most special teams tackles by a Colts player in a single season (since 1994).

— With two special teams tackles, he will pass Derwin Gray (20 in 1995) and Robert Mathis (20 in 2005) and tie Cliff Crosby (21 in 2001) and Darrell Reid (21 in 2007) for the thirdmost special teams tackles by a Colts player in a single season (since 1994).

— With three special teams tackles, he will pass Cliff Crosby (21 in 2001) and Darrell Reid (21 in 2007) for the third-most special teams tackles by a Colts player in a single season (since 1994).

• Quarterback Philip Rivers:

— With one game with three-or-more touchdown passes, he will tie Dan Marino (62) for the sixth-most games of three-or-more touchdown passes in NFL history.

— With one game with 400+ passing yards, he will tie Ben Roethlisberger (12) for the fourth-most games with 400+ passing yards in NFL history.

— With one game with 100.0+ passer rating, he will tie Peyton Manning (112) for the third-most such games in NFL history.

— With one game with a 110.0+ passer rating, he will tie Peyton Manning (78) for the third-most such games in NFL history.

— With one game started, he will pass London Fletcher (239) and tie Julius Peppers (240) for the sixth-most games started in NFL history.

— With 11 passes attempted, he will tie Eli Manning (8,119) for the sixth-most passes attempted in NFL history.

— With 12 passes attempted, he will pass Eli Manning (8,119) for the sixth-most passes attempted in NFL history.

— With one touchdown pass, he will pass Dan Marino (420) for the fifth-most touchdown passes in NFL history.

— With two touchdown passes he will reach 25 this season and will pass Brett Favre (11 seasons) for the fourth-most seasons with 25-or-more passing touchdowns in NFL history.

• Punter Rigoberto Sanchez:

— If he finishes one game with a 50.0+ punting average, he will tie Chris Gardocki and David Lee (nine) for the fourth-most games with a 50.0+ punting average in franchise history.

• Running back Jonathan Taylor:

— With 45 rushing yards, he will tie Alan Ameche (961) for the fifth-most rushing yards by a rookie in franchise history.

— With 46 rushing yards, he will pass Alan Ameche (961) for the fifth-most rushing yards by a rookie in franchise history.

— With 84 rushing yards, he will reach 1,000 rushing yards for the season. He would become just the fifth rookie in franchise history to reach that plateau and the first since Joseph Addai in 2006.

— With 114 yards from scrimmage, he will tie Dominic Rhodes (1,328) for the fourth-most yards from scrimmage by a rookie in franchise history.

— With 115 yards from scrimmage, he will pass Dominic Rhodes (1,328) for the fourth-most yards from scrimmage by a rookie in franchise history.

——————

• "It's a potential distraction and maybe it's not to all guys, but if it's a distraction to one guy, that's one guy too many. It's just better not to have them up there. It can do nothing to add to what we have to – focus our energy to Jacksonville and it only has a potential negative effect in our view." — Colts head coach Frank Reich, asked if the team will have the scores from the other games across the league with possible playoff implications displayed throughout their game Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.

• "If you look at it on a case-by-case basis, we come out of the third quarter, they get a couple of plays on us, we have a nice goal-line stand down there and then we punt the ball into a short field there which is 39 yards. We end up giving a big chunk up. That was a shot ball that we ended up having to contest and be on top of. From there, we had a couple of penalties – I always say that penalties are about discipline, judgement and self-control and we had a couple of those. You can agree or disagree with the call and that's disputed but when you have those for – that was another 44 yards or 45 yards. A good chunk of that was those penalties and that big chunk play. I just think we have to do a better job of being consistent and having discipline and self-control at the top of those routes. Our guys have done a good job with that and they are going to continue to do a good job with that. We'll just work on those things and move forward." — Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus, on his evaluation of why the Colts struggled to contain the Steelers in the second half of last week's loss.

• "I think that is special for any player, I'm sure. We always want our players to reach those milestones. I mean they work so hard. In the classroom they work so hard, they work so hard on the field, they work so hard in the weight room and when we have an opportunity to get guys those milestones, of course we want to do that. If we had to get a guy 100 catches, of course we want to do that – 30 touchdown passes, 1,000 yards. All those things, we really want that to happen for these guys. I'm not sure that Jonathan Taylor wants it as much as I want it for him. Obviously the first and most important thing is we are going to do what we need to do to win this football game and if that means Jonathan Taylor ends up with 1,000 yards on the dot, that's what it means. If it means he ends up with 1,200 yards, that's what it means. We know what is at stake with this football game. We are going to do everything we can to win this football game and if we can get him 1,000 yards on the way to the victory, that would be awesome to get a win and get him 1,000 yards would be really cool for him and for us as a staff." — Colts offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni, on what it would mean if rookie running back Jonathan Taylor can get 84 rushing yards on Sunday to reach 1,000 for the season.

• "I liked Rod when he was in college just being a spectator, not really even evaluating his film. I think he's done a very good job, he's been very professional, he works very, very hard. He's consistent. He hits a clean ball. There isn't a lot of variation in his mechanics. He's really done a good job with that and improving day in and day out. I would say with any rookie that he has definitely — I would think he has exceeded anybody's expectations because for a rookie to hit that high of a percentage in their first year is a testament to him for his hard work and what he has done." — Colts special teams coordinator Bubba Ventrone, on how pleased he's been with rookie kicker Rodrigo Blankenship this season.

"It's kind of the same thing as I said on Sunday— every scenario involves Colts beating the Jags. That's the only one we have a say in, so I think just be focused on what we can control. Find a way to get win No. 11 and don't be distracted by all the other games that have an impact on us moving forward." — Colts quarterback Philip Rivers, on how much he'll be paying attention to the other games with possible playoff implications for the Colts on Sunday.

50/50 RAFFLE

  • The Indianapolis Colts Foundation's 50/50 Raffle will be ACTIVE for the Colts vs. Jaguars game on Jan. 3. During the 2020 season, all Colts games including the 50/50 Raffle will be cashless. Debit cards are the only form of payment that will be accepted to purchase a 50/50 Raffle ticket. Reverse ATM machines are available for fans who need to exchange their cash for pre-paid debit cards. These machines are located outside of sections 116 and 153. For more information on the Indianapolis Colts Foundation's 50/50 Raffle, visit www.colts.com/5050.

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