Colts 34 Jaguars 24no comments
Colts 34 Jaguars 24no comments
A game punctuated by several bizarre, game-changing ST plays was sealed, appropriately enough, by Tyjuan Hagler returning the Jags on-side kick for a touchdown. Peyton Manning was sharp going 29 for 39 for 229 yards and 2 TDs and Donald Brown put up what is likely the best performance of his career to date with 129 yards on 14 carries with 2 40+ yard runs and a TD in addition to some good blitz pick-up. Austin Collie's return started strong with 8 receptions for 87 yards and 2 TDs, but sadly was short lived as another concussion ended his day, likely his season and could mean the end of his career.
Defensively the Jags were held to 67 yards on 22 carries, but had some success passing. 24 for 38, 294 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT for Garrard. STs were a major problem for the Colts for most of the game. The Jags returned a punt for a TD after returner Mike Thomas made a signal resembling a fair catch, then shot up the sideline against a confused Colts D. The Jags regularly got good field position off kickoffs and punts and Hagler's return was the only productive one for the Colts.
The win gives the Colts control of the AFC South. They are tied with the Jags in overall, head to head and divisional record with the edge in common games. Wins at Oakland and back at home against the Titans week 17 would guarantee the Colts the division.
As always, we'll be tweeting during the game. For those of you who don't use Twitter, you are missing out on lots of bonus 18to88 stuff. I routinely tweet stats, facts, and observations that don't show up on the site. You don't have to have a twitter address or tweet to read me, though. Just go here. You should also follow Luke and Shake.
On game days, I've put together a great follow list with some of the best local and national voices on the Colts.
If you will be tweeting from the game today, please let me know and I'll add you to the follow list so everyone can share your observations.
Of course, if you want to read all of this as part of our moderated chat, use the application below. Remember that I can't see what you write in the chat, so if you want to respond, use Twitter, and tag your comments @18to88. The chat will go live around 12:45 pm.
Let's begin with the end in mind, shall we?
The playoffs in the AFC will likely shake out like this:
NE, Pitt, SD/KC, Ind/Jax, Bal, NYJ
The likely scenario we should root for is: NE, Balt, Ind, KC, Pitt, NYJ. This would send the Jets to Indy, then Indy to Baltimore and the winner of KC/Pittsburgh to New England. That's what we are hoping for.
How do we get there? Because of the complicated permutations for the playoffs, there are no more easy calls. It's all confusing, and it all changes depending on what happens if the Colts win or lose today. Things will get clearer after today. We'll do a complete playoff positioning piece tonight if the Colts win today.
Kansas City at Saint Louis
We need the Chiefs to lose a game in order to leap frog them, but we ALSO need San Diego to lose. For now, the safest bet is to keep pulling for the Chiefs to keep San Diego on the outside looking in.
Buffalo at Miami
The Colts slim wildcard hopes require a Miami loss. So let's hope it comes today.
Houston at Titans
There still a crazy chance for a 3 way tie for the division at 8-8. I'm not sure it matters which of these teams wins this game, but let's pull for the team we still play.
Saints at Ravens
The Colts' slim wildcard hopes require the Ravens to lose out. IF the Colts win today, you can flip this and start rooting for the Ravens. We would LOVE to see the Ravens jump up and claim the two spot. However, a Colts' loss means the Ravens MUST lose this game or Indy is eliminated.
Jets at Steelers
There's still a longshot chance of the Colts grabbing the two seed (see the link to Shake's article above). More importantly, if Pittsburgh drops below Baltimore and becomes a wildcard, it could work out beautifully (as long as we don't get them in the first round). For now, pull for the Jets.
Denver at Oakland
Oakland doesn't affect us directly until next week, but each game Oakland wins hurts the Patriots.
Green Bay at New England
Rodgers isn't playing, so the Pats will win by 60. There's no point in watching this game.
Again, I'll be on with Jersey Johnny tonight on WIBC 93.1 between 7-8 PM Indy time. You can listen live here.
Also, if the Colts win tomorrow, I'll be on with him again sometime after 7 PM Sunday night.
By the way, Christmas is in a week! There's still (barely) time to order a copy of Blue Blood to be delivered to you.
If you live in the Indy area, drop by a local bookstore or check out the family store at 7055 Coffman Rd (Metro Arborist Supplies). The book makes a great gift.
18 Things to Watch for During Sunday's Jags/Colts Game
There's a real culture clash on display at the Luke on Sunday
Last week, the Colts got back on the right track with a win over the Titans, but that still makes this week's showdown with the Jags a must win in the strictest sense of the word. It's always a war when these two teams play, so don't expect anything less this time. With the AFC South title on the line, be sure to watch for:
1. Watch the culture clash. The Colts and Jaguars are built with opposing philosophies on both sides of the ball. The Colts favor small and fast on defense. The Jags favor big and strong. The Colts are a pass first team. The Jags are a run first team. The Colts are looking to speed the game up and score as much as possible. The Jags want to play the game close and tight and hope to win at the end. The Jaguars are under the delusion that a strong running game can still pay off in today's NFL, but it hasn't brought them much success in recent years. Tomorrow's game is sort of a referendum on their philosophy and style.
What if, what if, what if? With only 47 games left on the regular season slate and nearly 1/3rd of the league mathematically eliminated from playoff contention (and for a fair number of others it's all over but the crying) we can start to hash out the playoff scenarios. I'm using ESPN's playoff machine, so blame those dirty evil Brady-huggers in Bristol for any and all mistakes in this post, because I'm obviously incapable of error in my post-finals stupor.
The most pressing question going into this weekend is "What if the Colts lose?"
Were the Colts to lose the Jags would clinch the division marking just the second time in the 9 year history of the AFC South the Colts didn't take home the crown, but no matter, securing a wildcard spot would be a simple matter of winning the remaining two games (@OAK and TEN) while both the Ravens (NO, @CLE, CIN) and Chargers (@CIN, @DEN) lost out, and the Dolphins lost vs Buffalo and/or @New England (week 17).
If that scenario doesn't seem likely to you, then it's probably best to hope for a win this Sunday.
With a win Sunday the sky's the limit, if you consider the 2 seed to be the sky. The Colts would spend the first week of the playoffs on the couch if they won out, the Chiefs lost 1 or more of their remaining games (@STL, TEN, OAK), the Chargers lost at least 1 of their last two (@CIN, @DEN), the Ravens lost 2 or more of their remaining games (NO, @CLE, CIN), the Steelers lost out (NYJ, CAR, @CLE) and for TEN, HOU, JAX, NYG, DEN, WAS and KC to win 3 or more games combined than ATL, TB, CLE, MIA, CIN, BUF and BAL over the remainder of the season, in order to beat the Steelers in the strength of victory tiebreaker.
If the Colts group wins only 2 more the next tiebreaker is Strength of Schedule. If strength of victory was tied the Colts would win strength of schedule if PHI, DAL, SD, HOU and JAX won more games the rest of the way than NO, CLE, CAR, BAL and NYJ. The next tiebreaker would be combined rank in the conference in points scored and points allowed.
The 6 seed and the 2 seed are spectacularly unlikely outcomes for Indy and the 5 seed is impossible since the 9-4 Jets can only be tied by Indy in overall and conference record and have the common games tiebreaker against Indy secured, 4-1 vs 3-2 with no common games remaining.
A division title requires a win Sunday, a Colts win would put Indy and Jax even in overall record (8-6), head to head (1-1), and divisional record (3-2) with common games at 6-4 for Indy and 5-5 for Jacksonville and conference records at 6-4 for Indy and 7-4 for Jacksonville. Obviously if Jacksonville wins more of the remaining two games (WAS, @HOU) than Indy (@OAK, TEN), Indy loses the division and if Indy wins more of the last two than the Jags they win the division. The ties are where it's interesting.
If both teams win out following a Colts win Sunday, divisional records would each be 4-2, a 8-4 to 7-5 edge in common games would give Indy the division.
If both teams lose out following a Colts win Sunday, divisional records would each be 3-3, a 6-6 to 5-7 edge in common games would give Indy the division so long as neither Houston nor Tennessee (who play eachother Sunday) win out, since the resulting 4-2 division record from Houston or 6-4 in common games from Tennessee (vs 5-5 and 4-6) would give them the division.
There are 4 scenarios for how both teams could go 1-1 the last two weeks.
If Indy beats Oakland, but loses to Tennessee the Jags take the division if their win is over Houston week 17 (with the loss week 16 to WAS) by the power of a 4-2 divisional record to Indy's 3-3. If the Jags results are reversed (win over WAS, loss to HOU) Indy takes the division with divisional record tied at 3-3 and Indy taking common games 7-5 to 6-6.
If Indy loses to Oakland, but beats Tennessee the Colts win the division no matter which of the final two the Jags lose. A Jags loss to Washington gives divisional tied at 4-2 with Indy winning on common games 7-5 to 6-6. A Jags loss to Houston gives Indy the tiebreaker on divisional record, 4-2 vs 3-3.
The divisional race in short, if the Colts win out, they are in. If they lose to the Jags, they are out. If they only lose to Oakland they need the Jags to lose either of their last two games. If Indy only loses to Tennessee they need the Jags to lose to Houston. If Indy wins this Sunday but loses to Oakland and Tennessee they need the Jags to lose both of their last two and both Houston and Tennessee to lose one of their 3 remaining games.
The two seed is farfetched to say the least, but the 3 is a reasonable goal. Any AFC East winner will have a record of at least 11-5 overall and 8-4 conference putting them out of the Colts (best possible overall record of 10-6) or any AFC West winner (Chiefs top out at 11-5 with a 7-5 conference record, Chargers at 10-6, Raiders at 9-7) and if the Steelers win any of their last 3 games (NYJ, CAR, @CLE) they too are at the untouchable 11 total wins with 8 conference wins, leaving the 3 seed almost certainly a battle between Indy and the AFC West Champ.
If either the Chargers (@CIN, @DEN) or Chiefs (@STL, TEN, OAK) win out the Colts can't get the 3 seed. Winning out would put the Chiefs at 11-5 and/or the Chargers at 10-6 with the head to head over Indy (vs Indy's best case of 10-6). So before even getting started on what Indy needs to do, both SD and KC need to drop a game.
Indy isn't in the running for the 3 seed if they don't beat the Jags and losing one of the last two after beating JAX would leave Indy needing SD to finish 0-2, KC to end 1-2 or worse (and if the loss was to Oakland, for the Raiders to lose vsDEN and/or @KC). Indy can't get the 3 seed as a 8-8 division winner because the week 17 Raiders at Chiefs game would pair a 7-8 or better Oakland team with the tiebreaker over Indy against a 8-7 or better Chiefs team if Indy lost to Oakland. Either winner would get the 3 seed over a 8-8 Indy.
A loss this Sunday leaves the Colts playoff hopes alive only in the most pedantically technical sense. If the Colts win out they will win the division and have some chance at the #3 seed with the 2 seed possible, but overwhelmingly unlikely. If the only Colts lose to the Raiders they need the Redskins or Texans to beat the Jags. If the Colts only lose to the Titans they need the Texans to beat the Jags. If the Colts were to finish 0-2 after beating the Jags they would need the Jags to finish 0-2 as well and for the winner of this weekends' Texans at Titans matchup to lose in week 16 (HOU@DEN, TEN@KC).
Sunday's game? Kind of a big deal, and while the Raiders and Titans games don't have quite the potential to slam the playoff door shut on the Colts this week does, losing either would put the Colts in hot water and losing both would almost certainly keep them out of the playoffs.
Hey Colts fans...
did you know that the Colts have the best pass blocking line in football?
Reading that, 500 people just went Mama Cass on their ham sandwich.
The index uses several stats to try and divine the quality of Oline play. The problem is that while some of them reveal SOMETHING about Oline play, most of them are indicators of quarterback play.
The New York Life Protection Index is calculated using a proprietary formula, the fundamentals are comprised of the length of a team’s pass attempts combined with penalties by offensive linemen, sacks allowed and quarterback hurries and knockdowns.
So the formula is YPA, sacks, hurries, knockdowns and penalties. Two of those, YPA and sacks have something to do with the lines, but as we've demonstrated repeatedly, they say a lot more about the quarterback. By this formula, the Colts have the best pass blocking line in football...by a lot.
Those of us who have watched the Colts line this year, know that this simply isn't true. I have argued loudly and repeatedly that the line is not nearly as bad as people think. While it's a horrid run blocking unit (one thing numbers and eyes can agree on!), it's basically a mediocre pass blocking line, and certainly not much worse at pass blocking than it was in the past two years. However, not even I will go so far as to declare them an elite unit at quarterback protection.
Measuring line play is tricky. A great quarterback like Manning can perform magic with even a shaky line. When we try to use stats to talk about pass blocking, we are not on solid ground. Hurries and QB hits are certainly useful data, but sacks are notoriously deceiving. It's simply hard to grade someone whose job is to PREVENT something from happening. Think about it, just because the QB gets a pass off, doesn't mean the left tackle did his job. Ultimately, we have to combine numbers with a 'scouts eye'. It's not enough to just use your eyes. Bad line play WILL show up somewhere on the stat sheet. Part of the struggle for fans is that we don't watch every line in the NFL. We see Peyton Manning get hit, and it makes us mad. We have no context for knowing whether he gets hit more or less often than other quarterbacks unless we look at numbers.
My impression of the Protection Index is that it is a noble but misguided attempt at grabbing the holy grail. While it does suggest the Colts' line isn't the pass blocking disaster that some fans mistakenly think it is, what it really shows is that Peyton Manning is an incredible quarterback.
It's hard during the holiday season to get our schedules together enough to do the podcast. Here are my observations from the Titans game. 18 Plays is brought to you by Broad Ripple Tree Service. 5% discount on tree work if you mention 18to88.
1. 3-14-TEN 48 (10:10) (Shotgun) 18-P.Manning pass incomplete short left to 31-D.Brown
The Colts opening drive ended in a punt, and this was exactly the kind of play that I wanted to see from Peyton. Indy went empty backfield with Don Brown split wide left. Wayne stops short as an outlet receiver, and Brown runs for the sticks. Coverage is tight and rather than drop a pass over the top and risk a safety coming down or trying to thread the needle along the sideline and risk the corner undercutting it, Manning throws the ball low and away. He had plenty of time to throw, but the play just wasn't there, so he threw a safe low percentage pass. The result was an incompletion and a punt. IT WAS NOT AN INTERCEPTION. I felt it was a good start, and a sign Peyton was going to be more under control.
2. 3-5-TEN 12 (8:14) (Shotgun) 5-K.Collins pass incomplete short right to 18-K.Britt
The Colts get good push up the middle on the Titans first possession. The result is that Collins can't really step into his throw and tosses high and wide to Britt who is standing a yard or so short of the first down. Collins doesn't deal well with pressure in his face and threw inaccurately.
A few days ago, I asked everyone to contribute by finishing a sentence.
"A lockout means..."
The NFLPA has promised a prize to the winner. As of now, the prize is rumored to be either a Colts jersey or possibly signed memorabilia by a Colts player. I don't have final confirmation yet, but i told you it was worth winning.
All of you did a great job. There were 81 comments in the thread, and while not all were contest entries, several had multiple answers.
Below are the top 10 answers in chronological order:
The lockout means 18to88 will spend way too much time talking about the Cincinnati Reds-NKManahan (also disqualified for being my friend)
The Lockout means the Jaguars can take their time accessorizing, and add matching glitter to their facemasks, shoes, gloves, mascot, stadium, Tim Tebow-Bubba
The lockout means Indy won't host the Super Bowl-The Josh Baker
The lockout means a better chance for my wife to get pregnant again-SZF61
A lockout means the many non-player persons employed by the NFL would need to find employment elsewhere (don't forget the little guys)-Horseshoe Hoosier
A lockout means millions of voices that usually shouted out in exhilaration were suddenly silenced.-Biddy_Colts
A lockout means thousands of fans of all 32 teams suffering a heartbreaking loss 16 straight weeks.-Matt
A lockout could have the same effect that the baseball strike had on me in the 90s. I stopped watching a sport I loved, and never fully came back.-Bob
A lockout means... never have so many, been so harmed by so few.-Doug England
A lockout means that the most exciting day of the week turns into the most boring day of the week.-Mr. NFL
I wish I could give a prize to everyone, but I barely make any money on this blog as it is, and I have two other contests to pay off this month (Fantasy league and Pick 'em league). The top three in my book were Bubba's, Biddy's and Matt's.
It was a very tough call (Bubba, my wife voted for you), but there was something about the way that Matt's resonated with the way this season has gone that spoke to me. We've had four of the worst losses ever already this year. The thought of the whole league going through that every week...that's chilling.
So congratulations Matt! Email me with your contact information (and shirt size...don't know if it's relevant, but might as well have it), and I'll pass it along to the NFLPA.
A lockout means thousands of fans of all 32 teams suffering a heartbreaking loss 16 straight weeks.