Indianapolis Colts (-2.5, 49.5 o/u) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
Make sure you’ve got the timer set on the coffee machine as we’ve got football early on Sunday morning in Week 4. I won’t hold it against you if a matchup between the Indianapolis Colts (1-2 SU, 1-2 ATS) and Jacksonville Jaguars (0-3 SU, 2-1 ATS) at Wembley Stadium in London, England, doesn’t excite you enough to wake up at 9:30 AM Eastern. But this is why we gamble on these games: to make them watchable.
The Colts are coming off their first victory of the year, 26-22 over the Chargers. It didn’t come without adversity, though, as Andrew Luck (76/124 for 913 yards, six touchdowns, and two interceptions in 2016) had to orchestrate his 14th career game-winning drive, giving Indianapolis the lead with just over a minute to play. Luck also had his second 300-yard passing performance of the season, matching his total from an injury-riddled and ineffective 2015.
The hero of the game was T.Y. Hilton (18 receptions for 294 yards and one touchdown in 2016), who hauled in a deep pass from Luck late in the game and broke loose from his defender to score the go-ahead touchdown. This came after a guarantee to make game-changing plays for his team.
In spite of the victory, the Colts still have a lot of room for improvement. They may average 27 points (fifth) and 285 passing yards (ninth) per game, but they have lacked a ground game (23rd) and their defense has been awful, allowing 31.7 points per game (30th). The Colts simply cannot prevent their opponents from taking to the air (27th against the pass), and a big part of that is their inability to put pressure on the passer (four sacks in three games; 21st).
Indianapolis’ defense has a golden opportunity to turn the tide in Week 4 against a Jaguar offense that has underachieved.
The Jags are fresh off a 19-17 loss to the Ravens and find themselves in a far too familiar situation: winless. Blake Bortles (79/127 for 843 yards, five touchdowns, and six interceptions) has completely forgotten the meaning of ball security; T.J. Yeldon (34 carries for 84 yards, and one touchdown) has been painfully unproductive; and their receiving duo of Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns has combined for just two touchdowns thus far.
All of the individual struggles have led to the Jaguars’ offense putting up 18 points (26th), 262.3 passing yards (12th), and a pitiful 55 rushing yards (31st) per game. Unfortunately, their defense hasn’t enjoyed a big enough leap to make up for their stumbling offense. While they are eighth in total defense, seventh against the pass, and 20th against the run, the offense has put them in bad spots too often, leading to 28 points against per game (25th).
Sunday’s matchup may be do-or-die for the Jags in more than one respect. Not only would an 0-4 start kill any hopes at a playoff spot, it could also signal the demise of head coach Gus Bradley. Jacksonville should come out in desperation mode. However, Blake Bortles has given us no reason to trust him, unless the game is already out of hand, in which case he turns into a fantasy stud.
Indianapolis knows they don’t have to concern themselves with stopping the run, and may have corners Patrick Robinson and Darius Butler back from injury. Most importantly, Andrew Luck looks to have returned to his 2014 form and will continue to put up points against a defense that’s already allowed two 300-yard passers this season. Bortles and company just won’t be able to keep up.
Pick: Colts (-2.5)
Photo Credit: Keith Allison (Flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/].