The Jacksonville Jaguars are attempting to end a nine-season playoff drought, and their upcoming stretch of home games surely can help with that quest. Jacksonville is tied with Tennessee for first place in the AFC South as it opens a three-game homestand on Sunday against the struggling Indianapolis Colts.
The Jaguars also host Seattle and Houston during the stretch, and not playing away from home again until Dec. 24 rates as a huge opportunity. “At the beginning of the season, we were like, ‘Dang, where are all the home games?'” defensive tackle Malik Jackson told reporters. “Now, we’re like, ‘Ooh, it’s awesome to be here at the end of the season’ - warm weather, you’re with your crowd ... you’re just home. It’s awesome.” The Colts, who have lost five of their last six games, were routed 27-0 by the Jaguars on Oct. 22 as quarterback Jacoby Brissett was sacked 10 times and hit on eight other occasions. “I‘m not going to flinch in the pocket,” Brissett told reporters. “That’s not my mentality, that’s not how I was raised, so that will never change.”
TV: 1 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Jaguars -9.5. O/U: 41
ABOUT THE COLTS (3-8): Indianapolis’ season unraveled early as quarterback Andrew Luck was unavailable due to a shoulder injury, and the team’s next loss will clinch its first losing campaign since 2011. “It’s tough, but I know what type of guys we’ve got in this locker room - great group of guys who will come to work every day,” veteran running back Frank Gore told reporters. “I know things haven’t been going our way, and I think if we just handle the small things, I think that can change.” Gore needs 49 rushing yards against the Jaguars to pass Jerome Bettis (13,662) and LaDainian Tomlinson (13,684) and move into fifth place on the all-time list.
ABOUT THE JAGUARS (7-4): Getting running back Leonard Fournette (765 yards) back on track is a big priority, as the rookie has gained 33 or fewer yards in two of his last three games. “Everybody is game-planning to stop the run game, and sometimes it’s hard,” Fournette told reporters. “We’re trying to get it moving, but I have faith in our coaching and our players and I think we’re going to be able to get it done.” Jacksonville leads the NFL in scoring defense (15.3 points), total defense (281.8 yards) and sacks (41), with star defensive end Calais Campbell tied for third in the league with 11.5 sacks.
1. The Jaguars have won three of the last four meetings, but the Colts hold a 22-11 series advantage.
2. Jacksonville OLB Telvin Smith (concussion) is doubtful after being injured last Sunday against Arizona.
3. Indianapolis C Ryan Kelly (concussion) will miss the game as Mike Person will start in his place.
PREDICTION: Jaguars 24, Colts 10