Are you ready for some football? Quarterback Philip Rivers hopes he is at 38 as he enters a new era with the Indianapolis Colts. Jacksonville appears to be in rebuilding mode so they will rely on some young talent led by quarterback Gardner Minshew II.
The Jags beat the Colts at home last season 38-20 on Dec. 29 and lost at Indianapolis 33-13 on Nov. 19.
Rivers comes to the rescue?The Colts finished 7-9 last season and did not make the playoffs in their first season without star quarterback Andrew Luck, who retired two weeks before the start of the 2019 season. Jacoby Brissett showed some flashes last season taking over as the starter, going 5-2 to start the season. But he suffered a knee injury at Pittsburgh in early November and Indianapolis struggled down the stretch, losing seven of nine games. Brissett finished 29th in the NFL with 196.1 yards per game, averaged 6.6 yards per attempts and 11.0 yards per completion. In his career, Rivers averages 7.8 yards per attempt and 12.1 yards per completion.
Rivers did not have a great season in 2019, throwing for 4,615 yards with 23 TDs and 20 INTs (30th) with a QBR of 50.5 (23rd). But two seasons ago, he threw for 32 touchdowns and 12 picks. The good news is that the Colts will have a healthy T.Y. Hilton back at wide receiver, after he led the team with 45 catches for 501 yards in an injury-plagued season. The addition of rookie second-round pick Michael Pittman (6-4, 223) from USC, brings great size and a physical nature.
The Colts have one of the best offensive lines in the game led by LT Anthony Castonzo and G/C Quenton Nelson. That should help a running game that averaged 133.1 yards per game (7th) and added a talented rookie. Second-round pick Jonathan Taylor from Wisconsin will battle for time with Marlon Mack (1,091 yards, 8 TDs). Having those two backs should allow Rivers to utilize play-action and hit his top receivers along with TE Zach Pascal (41 catches for 607 yards).
Defensively, the Colts struggled against the pass last season (248.9ypg), ranking 23rd in the league. They did play well against the run (97.9ypg) and they brought in one of the premier defensive tackles when they traded for DeForest Buckner from San Francisco. Buckner can rush the passer and stop the run from the interior as well as anybody in the league. DE Justin Houston (11.0 sacks) was an excellent addition last year in terms of rushing the passer.
Minshew ManiaThe Jaguars finished 6-10 last season and made a bunch of head-scratching moves unless they are tanking for (Clemson quarterback) Trevor (Lawrence). One was dealing away DE Yannick Ngakoue to Minnesota. Ngakoue had contract issues and was expected to be the franchise player after recording eight sacks last season. His presence allowed second-year end Josh Allen to set a Jags rookie record with 10.5 sacks.
On offense, they waived starting running back Leonard Fournette, who they couldn't deal away. Fournette ran for 1,152 yards with a 4.3 yards per carry average last season. That means undrafted rookie runner James Robinson will begin the season as a starter. That also means more pressure on Minshew, who threw for 3,271 yards with 21 TDs and six picks as a rookie. Former Washington head coach Jay Gruden joins the staff as the offensive coordinator, replacing John DeFilippo. He'll work on Minshew getting rid of the ball quicker and if head coach Doug Marrone is in trouble, he could replace him late in the season. He also has to improve an offense that ranked 26th in scoring and 31st in red-zone touchdowns.
As for weapons, WR D.J. Chark (6-4, 198) is a big target, who caught 73 passes for 1,008 yards last season with eight TDs. They need more from Chris Conley (47 catches, 775 yds) and Dede Westbrook (66, 660).
- 2-5 ATS last 7 in Week 1.
- 2-6 ATS last 8 overall.
- 7-2 ATS last 9 vs. AFC South.