INDIANAPOLIS – The Colts and their 16-game divisional win streak will be tested on Sunday in Jacksonville (4-8).
Sitting at 6-6 and tied (record wise) with the Texans atop the AFC South, the Colts cannot afford a slip up in the final quarter of the season.
What should fans be looking for when the Colts head to Jacksonville in Week 14?
1. Healthy Hasselbeck
-Matt Hasselbeck practiced all week for the Colts and game-day adrenaline should heal any lingering pain for the 40-year-old quarterback. The Colts need to do a better job protecting Hasselbeck than they did against Pittsburgh. Even though Jacksonville is stout against the run, more work for Frank Gore should not be a surprise in an effort to keep the stress off of Hasselbeck. 2. Early Lead
-Both the Jaguars and the Colts rank near the bottom of the NFL in first-quarter points this season. In past matchups in Jacksonville, the Colts have jumped out to big leads, eventually leading to convincing wins. You know this is in the back of the Jaguars' heads. A multi-score first-quarter lead could bring out a "here we go again" mindset from a team with minimal playoff chances.
3. Creating Disruption
-It's been the storyline of the week for the Colts defense. How did a successful pass rush in second-half wins over Tampa Bay and Atlanta disappear in Pittsburgh? The Colts know that getting to Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles is a must with how Jacksonville's offense has played since these two teams met in Week Four (they are averaging 26.2 points per game in their last eight contests).
4. Finding Hilton, Moncrief
-With a banged up quarterback and a difficult Jaguars run defense, the Colts need their playmakers to be just that. Against Pittsburgh, the Colts could not get T.Y. Hilton or Donte Moncrief going. That shouldn't be a problem Sunday, in a place where the Colts offense has flourished in recent seasons.
5. Execute Sitautionally
-Matt Hasselbeck was still talking on Wednesday about the missed opportunities the offense had against Pittsburgh. To go on the road and convert 3-fo-14 third downs and finish 1-of-6 in the red zone isn't going to lead to wins. Jacksonville's defense has really struggled in situational football this season.
6. Keep Watching Sunday?
-When the final gun sounds in Jacksonville on Sunday, Colts fans should be ready to do some more cheering later that night. The cheering will need to be for the….New England Patriots. The Texans and Patriots meet on Sunday Night Football this week in a game nearly as important as the Colts and Jaguars meeting earlier in the afternoon.
7. Help Is On The Way
-Week 15 is going to be about as close of a "winner take all" matchup you can get in the regular season. When the Texans come to Lucas Oil Stadium next Sunday, the Colts could be looking at the returns of three very important pieces (Anthony Castonzo, Andrew Luck, Jerrell Freeman). If the Colts win their next two games and Houston falls to New England on Sunday night, the division title stays in Indy.