While the Jacksonville Jaguars will need to sustain long, time consuming touchdown drives as Brian Levenson wrote, the Jaguars defense will also need to play a vital role if they wish to dethrone the Colts and take hold of the AFC South. In their last meeting, Peyton Manning threw for 352 yards and two touchdowns. Wide receiver Reggie Wayne has 15 catches for 196 yards. While Manning and the Colts offense are going to get theirs on Sunday, there are a few key things the Jaguars can do defensively to seal a victory.
In their first match up, the Jaguars were +2 in the turnover margain, and that realistically was the difference in the ball game. Then starting safety Anthony Smith was able to intercept a deflected ball and return it 47 yards. The ball was intercepted inside the 5-yard line, virtually taking points off of the scoreboard. Later in the game and in the fourth quarter, Anthony Smith forced a Reggie Wayne fumble that was recovered by then safety Gerald Alexander at the 10 yard line and returned 43 yards.
Those two plays potentially took 6-14 points off the board for the Colts, allowing the Jaguars to win on a 59-yard field goal by Josh Scobee.
Despite the down swing by the Colts the past few weeks, their passing attack is still likely to shred a Jaguars secondary that just gave up 300+ yards to Jason Campbell against the Oakland Raiders last week. In the first match up, Manning shredded them as well, and that was when Aaron Kampman wasn't on injured reserve. The pass rush was only able to hit Manning twice in the last match up, and one of those hits was on a blitz by linebacker Kirk Morrison.
Another key for the Jaguars defense this week is getting off the field on third down, obviously. In the first match up, the Colts were 7 of 10 on third downs. Four of their nine drives ended in a score, and without the two turnovers in the redzone it's likely it would have been six of nine. The Jaguars have shown they can go blow for blow with a team and come back from a deficit, as they did last week against the Raiders, but it's not a habit they'd like to get into. The defense is going to have to limit the Colts scoring opportunities while the Jaguars offense matches their scores.
While the offense does in fact need long sustained touchdown drives, the defense is going to have to make a play or two for this team to win on Sunday.