Colts’ pass rush Vs. Jags’ offensive line
The Colts’ pass-rush has been inconsistent at best, and anemic at worst this season, and the loss of Tyquan Lewis only aggravated the issue. Pressure from the edges seems to just disappear every other quarter, DeForest Buckner is double or even triple-teamed on a regular basis, and the Colts don’t like using Grover Stewart so much as a pass rusher. Matt Eberflus will certainly be hoping that both Kwity Paye and Taylor Stallworth can follow up their amazing games against the Jets facing off against a decent offensive line. The Jags have been a solid team in pass protection, which is key for their rookie quarterback. If the Colts manage to pressure Lawrence consistently, then the Jags offense will collapse.
Matt Eberflus Vs. Trevor Lawrence
If there is one thing this defense has been really good at, is at creating turnovers. The Colts’ defense has forced a league-high 20 turnovers this year, led by Darius “The Maniac” Leonard who has 6 himself (9 if you count fumble recoveries, which I don’t). Trevor Lawrence, as most rookie quarterbacks generally do, has struggled mightily taking care of the ball. His 12 turnovers (9 interceptions, 3 fumbles lost) are second-worst in the NFL behind Sam Darnold. Not only have the Colts been amazing at creating turnovers, but the offense has done a good job capitalizing on them. If the Colts can get an early lead and force the Jaguars into a less favorable script on offense, then it could get ugly.
Michael Pittman Jr. Vs. Shaquill Griffin
The Jaguars opened up the checkbook to sign Griffin, and the former Seahawks’ cornerback certainly has been living up to the hefty salary (if only Ballard would have signed the guy…). Other than Griffin, the Jaguars have no cornerbacks that I feel can keep Michael Pittman Jr. in check, so shadowing MPJ with Griffin might be the Jags’ best shot at keeping the ascending star in check. The Colts’ passing offense has been relying heavily on Pittman as the number one threat, so forcing Wentz to go to either Pascal or Dulin is probably the Jags’ best shot at stopping the passing game.
Eric Fisher/Braden Smith Vs. Josh Allen/Dawuane Smoot
After a rocky start to the season, the tackle situation in Indianapolis looks better each week. Braden Smith is finally healthy enough to play, though an elbow injury has been limiting him in practice this week. Eric Fisher has allowed just 4 total pressures over the last 3 games and looks like he is back to form after his Achilles injury. They will have their hands full on Sunday, going against one of the most dynamic edge rushers in the league in Josh Allen, and what has been a surprisingly productive sidekick in Dawuane Smoot. Allen and Smoot have combined for 62 total pressures this season, and have been a problem not only for quarterbacks but also running backs, as they are very good run defenders.
Carson Wentz Vs. Dumb mistakes
The way this game is looking, the only possible outcome where the Jags leave Lucas Oil Stadium with a win is if Wentz just handicaps the Colts offense and Indy fails to get anything going. Jacksonville has a solid run defense, so Taylor will probably not be able to run as freely as he did against the Jets, meaning that the Colts will be forced to rely more on their quarterback to make big plays happen. Fortunately, the Jaguars have forced just 5 turnovers this year, tied for worst in the league, but we saw last week against Josh Allen and the Bills that anything can happen.