Wednesday, November 7, 2012

NFL WEEK 10 – THURSDAY NIGHT PREVIEW


 
INDIANAPOLIS @ JACKSONVILLE                     

It was just a few short weeks ago that the Indianapolis Colts comeback specialist and ROTY candidate Andrew Luck had one pulled over on him.  Blaine Gabbert spied Cecil Shorts on a slant route and 80 yards later Shorts scored the game-winning touchdown with just 45 seconds left on the clock, shocking both the Colts and Jaguars fans.  That same game cost both teams in terms of injuries.  It sent Colts WR Austin Collie to the sideline for the rest of the season.  The Jaguars lost their top free agent, Laurent Robinson, to a concussion, and he would miss the next five games. 
The Colts come into this Thursday night matchup on the heels of Luck’s record 433 yards passing and a huge victory, but don’t think Indianapolis has forgotten about the past defeat they had snatched from the jaws of victory.  Newly shaved heads and the inspiration of Chuck Pagano behind them, the Colts offense has vaulted to an overall fourth ranking on the heels of Luck's fourth game of over 300 yards passing.  In their last meeting, Luck threw for 313 yards and assisted rookie T. Y. Hilton to his first 100 yard game and first career touchdown.  Hilton could play as big a role this week, as Donnie Avery is struggling through a hip problem, and with a struggling rushing offense of their own (ranked 20th) the Colts are as likely to throw as ever.  Though it would seem the Colts would exploit the Jaguars 27th ranked rush defense, the Colts average 3.9 yards per carry as a team with their best rushing average coming from Luck.  Vick Ballard is averages just 3.5 yards per carry, and Donald Brown, questionable with his knee, is averaging 4.3.  Delone Carter is averaging 3.7 yards per carry, but really has only carried the ball once Brown has gone out.  Mewelde Moore may have scored against Jacksonville in their last meeting but that’s the last he’s been heard from.  The case is clear that Andrew Luck will see another 35 attempts, and that means the Colts' wide receivers should be busy.  With the Jags star CB Rashean Mathis questionable with a groin, you need to keep an ear out for whether Avery will play at all, because if he doesn’t watch Hilton get another 7-8 catches for 75 yards and a score, while Wayne has another 100-yard receiving day.  Tight End Dwayne Allen seems to have won the lottery over Coby Fleener for most targeted tight end.  Fleener has been ruled out this week, so Allen will see a few targets, but keep in mind the Jaguars have not given up a touchdown to a tight end this year.  That may be a collateral effect from yielding the 15th most fantasy points to wide receivers.
Expect T.Y. Hilton to be a solid play
The Jaguars have won that last three meeting against Indianapolis, and the key to those victories has been the ability to run the ball.  Minus Maurice Jones- Drew, the Jaguars will give Rashad Jennings a boatload of opportunities.  The Colts yield a ridiculous 4.8 yards per attempt, and the Jaguars will have to take advantage of that to give an improving Blaine Gabbert a chance to make plays.  Surprisingly, Gabbert has been making plays.  Since Week 5, Gabbert's QB rating has increased substantially, and his turnovers have dropped.  Last week, while he did throw two interceptions (his first INTs in three games) he completed 71 percent of his passes, the first time in his career he has ever eclipsed 66 percent.  Against Green Bay, Gabbert threw for his first 300-yard game.  He had 12 touchdown passes all last year – he has nine currently.  This may be numbers parsing, but Gabbert could grab a victory again.  This week is Justin Blackmon's chance to make a big impact.  The athletic Blackmon has nine catches for 99 yards and a score in the last two games.  Because Jerraud Powers had been ruled out, it's most likely that Blackmon will match up against back-up cornerback Josh Gordy.  That makes him a prime target for this game, because although the Colts pass defense is ranked sixth overall, secondary receivers have scored at least six of the ten passing touchdowns the Colts have given up.  Marcedes Lewis could have relevance as well, while Cecil Shorts is going to be the focus of the Colts secondary.  Laurent Robinson could also see more time, but consistency is what you're after, and Blackmon has supplanted him on the depth chart.

Fantasy wise, I expect Ballard to get between 10-12 carries for around 45 yards.  He'll get a few grabs as well.  However, the scoring will come from Hilton and Wayne, who'll combine for nearly 200 yards receiving and two scores.  Divisional match-ups are always hard, so Andrew Luck might not get you more than 220 yards and a couple of touchdowns.  T. Y. Hilton is your sleeper play for a big game, while Justin Blackmon becomes my sleeper for the Jaguars.  I expect Shorts is still Gabbert's top target, but the Colts won't let him behind their secondary again.  Rashad Jennings has a shot at a solid game to finish in the top 15 of all runners this weekend.

COLTS 20, JAGUARS 17