375 yards rushing for the Jaguars led them to a 44-17 victory over the Colts. Maurice Jones-Drew ran for 166 yards and 2 touchdowns. Photo via tucsoncitizen.com
Every time the Jaguars get ready to play the Colts I get this sense of confidence. Maybe it's the Jaguars' running style of offense that seems to have so much success against the lackluster run defense of Indianapolis. Or maybe it's the fact that the Jaguars seem to play their best football against the Colts. Whatever it is, I always feel confident that the Jaguars can and will win their games against the Colts despite the 5-14 all-time record against them.
Maybe that's why I really think the Jaguars will win this weekend. Or maybe it's because this weekend's matchup reminds me so much of a certain Jaguars-Colts game that I will never forget.The two teams coming into that 2006 game were in a little different situation than they will be this 2010 weekend. The Jaguars were in the thick of the AFC wild card race at 7-5, as they prepared for a week 14 matchup against the 10-2 Colts. The Colts were fighting for a top seed in the playoffs seeing as they had all but clinched an AFC South division title.
The Jaguars were coming off a win over the 5-7 Dolphins, and weren't too far from the 5-1 stretch they are on now at 4-2 in their six games prior. The Colts were still trying to brush themselves off after losing two out of their last three despite winning their first nine games of the season.
What reminds me so much of the 2006 game is the style of play both teams are playing. The Jaguars are running the ball just arguably as good as they ever have as a franchise with three consecutive 200+ rushing performances. While the 2006 Jaguars never had that kind of rushing explosion, they were a model of consistency, rushing for 100+ yards in each of their last 12 games. That 2006 team ranked 3rd in the league in rushing yards, averaging 158.8 yards per game. The 2010 Jaguars currently rank 2nd, averaging 157.8 yards per game.
The 2006 Colts struggled to stop the run, giving up 100+ yards in each of their first 12 games. When Bob Sanders returned from an injury, their defense finally shored up and they rode it to a Super Bowl victory. Even so, the Colts defense finished the regular season as the worst rushing defense, allowing 173.0 yards per game. The 2010 Colts aren't quite as bad as that group was, but they're far from good, ranking 29th in the league. They allow an average of 141.1 yards per game.
Offensively the Colts in 2006 relied on their pass offense that ranked as the 2nd best in the league. The 2010 Colts rely even more so on their quarterback, Peyton Manning, who is on pace to break the all time record for pass attempts in a single season. Perhaps that is because the 2006 team featured a rushing attack that ranked close to the middle of the league at 18th. In 2010, they rank 32nd.
The Jaguars passing offense recorded 17 touchdowns and 14 interceptions with David Garrard and Byron Leftwich splitting playing time during the season. The 2010 Jaguars have recorded 22 passing touchdowns and 17 interceptions. The 2006 passers averaged 180.1 yards per game, while the 2010 passers have averaged 184.2 yards per game. While those stats may look the same, they aren't very indicative of the different play of David Garrard.
2006 Garrard threw 10 touchdowns and 9 interceptions in his 10 starts and finished with an 80.5 QB rating. 2010 Garrard has thrown 20 touchdowns and 12 interception in 13 starts, with a 93.2 QB rating.
Perhaps, the biggest and only difference that goes in favor of the Colts is the struggles of the pass defense in 2010. The Jaguars of 2006 ranked 10th in the NFL in pass defense, compared to the 28th ranked unit of 2010.
All in all, there are only two differences between 2006 and 2010 that could be considered significant. The lackluster pass defense of the Jaguars and the drop off in production of the Colts rush offense. What won the game for the Jaguars in 2006 and led to a 44-17 landslide was not the Jaguars ability to shut down Manning as he threw for over 300 yards in that game. It was the Jaguars ability to run straight through the Colts defensive line.
Should we expect another 375 yards on the ground and 27 point victory? No, we probably shouldn't. But I don't see any reason to believe the Jaguars can't thrash the Colts on the ground after they ran over the Giants, Titans and Raiders in consecutive weeks. All of whom have better rush defenses than the notoriously swiss cheese Colts.