I think most people are familiar with the musical "Fiddler on the Roof." When Tevyah, the Jewish father of three marriagable daughters, is faced with an impossible decision, he takes the time to weigh the options. Right now, I'm thinking of the daughter who wants to marry a non-Jewish man for love. On the one hand, he thinks, his daughter is flaunting the traditions and expectations of her people. On the other hand, he has to question whether it is worth resisting the changing of the times. When I think about this Jaguars versus Colts matchup, I have the same argument: Do I give the edge to the Jaguars, who play a "Run the ball and stop the run" style game, pulled straight out of the old school football playbook, or the Nu Age Colts, who sacrifice size and strength for speed and finesse on defense. The game is pushing more and more towards the Colts' and Peyton Manning's style of play, The question is: for one game can the traditions of the old world win out against the encroaching reality of a QB centric NFL?
On the one hand...On the one hand: the Jaguars have been nearly unstoppable for the past 6 games. They are 5-1, with the only loss coming against a high-quality Giants team when the Jaguars were without their franchise LT and primary WR due to injuries. Maurice Jones-Drew has passed the Century mark running the ball in six straight games, and the Jaguars have topped 200 yards rushing four times this season. The Colts are not a power team on defense, and it has shown this year. The Colts are the second worst run stopping team in the NFL this year. Second only to Buffalo, who not only have very little talent on their roster, but also are in the first year of their transition to a 3-4 (the first year in a new system is almost never good). Indy's weakness is the Jaguars' strength. The formula has worked for years and years: pound the ball and tire the defense out. Make the other guys one dimensional and you can win games. Tradition is on the Jaguars' side, and what's more, the Jaguars style of play has gotten them to 8-5 and first place in the AFC South.
On the other hand: the Colts offense is everything the new NFL is about. Beauty, precision, rushing the passer and throwing the ball all the time. The Jaguars will seek to make the Colts one-dimensional. Of course, the problem with that: The Colts are one dimensional already by choice. Peyton Manning has passed for over 4,000 yards in only 13 games. You know how many rushing yards the Colts have? 1,036. Yup, 79.7 yards per game. The Jaguars don't have to take away the run, the Colts will do it for you. Gladly. Peyton Manning is the biggest name in the NFL. He has single-handedly taken the Colts to the playoffs every year since his second year in the league. He's been doing it forever, and he's hardly slowed down at all since then. Yes, he's been doing it forever, and he knows that he has to win this week to do it again, so he'll be prepared, just like he always is.
The Jaguars pass defense is 29th in the league. Their patchwork secondary is full of holes, holes that Peyton Manning can find with his eyes closed. Times have changed, Tevyah. The passing game is the future. Don't you see what is happening in the world?
On the other hand: The Jaguars have already beaten the Colts this year. The Jaguars won in Everbank Field in a thrilling 31-28 game. Josh Scobee hit a last second field goal from 59 yards out as both defenses were shredded all game long. The Jaguars got the turnovers at just the right moments and the Colts left the Jags with just enough time for a last second drive to win the game. The Colts could not stop the Jaguars, and while the Colts have floundered somewhat in the past month, the Jaguars have only improved as the year has gone on. The Jaguars arrow is point up and the Colts is pointing down. One is moving up, the other coming down. Sunrise, sunset.
On the other hand: Turnovers have become one of the Jaguars weakest points. The team is minus 10 in turnovers, and interceptions and great plays cannot be expected from the Jaguars pass defense with any regularity. By the numbers, the Colts have a better offense, a better turnover ratio, a better QB, and they are playing at home with the season on the line.
The struggle between the old ways and the new are a constant theme of the world. New ideas and new ways of life do eventually overcome the old school. The question is, will it happen that way on Sunday? If I knew for sure, I would call myself a rich man (Yiddie diddie diddie bum), but one stadium, just like the one little town in Fiddler, is not the whole world. Tradition could win out, or it could lose. Sunday's game is a coin flip between two teams in the heat of the division race. The division will likely be won or lost on Sunday. On the one hand, the Jaguars roster has more talent and is more complete. On the other hand, Peyton Manning wins games. There's no right answer...