JACKSONVILLE, Fla.–It is simple for the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday. Beat the Jacksonville Jaguars and they make it to the playoffs for the third time in four years.
On paper, that may appear easy considering the Colts are 9-7 and the Jaguars are 2-14. Recent history, however, has not been on the Colts’ side in Jacksonville. They have lost five straight games in Jacksonville as well as another road game against them in London back in 2016. Their last win in Jacksonville was in 2014. They have also lost seven of the last 12 meetings against Jacksonville. The Colts had to hold on and win a hard-fought contest at home over the Jags 23-17 on November 14, 2021.
The Colts also missed an opportunity to clinch a playoff berth last week by losing to the Las Vegas Raiders 23-20. Colts linebacker Darius Leonard says practice this week has been much different.
“Yesterday (Wednesday) was a lot better than last week’s practice. Last week, we were lackadaisical and not focused. But this week, we’re locked in. Defensively, we have played with a lot of energy yesterday and had a lot of turnovers. So, hopefully we can do it in practice and translate it to the game so we can get a ‘W’ and make a run in the playoffs,” said Leonard in a press conference Thursday.
Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton agreed with Leonard’s assessment.
“We’re motivated. We don’t like what we put on film in 2022 so far. The only way to do that is to correct it going into Jacksonville where haven’t done good. We’ll just go out there and play Colts football and we’ll be fine,” said Hilton.
The Colts’ passing game struggled in the loss to the Raiders (averaged only 5 yards per pass), but that has not made Colts quarterback Carson Wentz any less confident.
“We put together a stretch there we won games by running the ball. That kind of became what we are, but at the same time, we believe wholeheartedly that if we need to air it out and win in the passing game, we can do that,” said Wentz.
Colts running back Jonathan Taylor has already set a franchise record for most rushing yards in a season. He has 1,734 so far.
If the Colts win or tie, that would give the AFC South two playoff teams for the fifth consecutive season, which is the longest current streak for any NFL division. Indianapolis could still reach the postseason with a loss, but would need help from teams.
The Jaguars have lost eight in a row. They also have the worst record in the NFL, so if they lose, they will secure the #1 pick in the upcoming NFL Draft.
The Colts and Jaguars play Sunday at 1 pm.