Colts Preview

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) This season’s first AFC South rematch looks

like a mismatch.

The surging Indianapolis Colts have averaged a little more than 33

points over their last eight games while the reeling Jacksonville

Jaguars have topped 21 points once in the last two months. The

Colts (6-5) have won five straight since a less-than-ideal start.

The Jaguars (3-8) have dropped seven in a row since thumping the

New York Jets to end the season’s opening quarter.

”Definitely dumbfounded,” Jacksonville defensive tackle Malik

Jackson said. ”If you would have told me in April we’d be 3-8, I’d

say you’re lying. I don’t know what’s going on. … I don’t know

what to say, what to change. We work hard. Guys have bought into

the scheme. The locker room is still together.

”Nobody’s waving (goodbye), nobody’s searching for flights to get

out of here at the end of the season. Guys are locked in. To go out

there and keep losing, it’s unexplainable. I don’t even know what

to say to you.”

The teams played three weeks ago, with the Colts winning 29-26

thanks partly to Jacksonville receiver Rashad Greene’s fumble in

field-goal range with 1:30 remaining.

Jacksonville won’t look the same in the second meeting.

Coach Doug Marrone fired offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett

and benched quarterback Blake Bortles this week, making two major

changes in hopes of jumpstarting one of the league’s worst passing

attacks. He promoted quarterbacks coach and former CFL head coach

Scott Milanovich to play-caller along with backup quarterback Cody

Kessler. Kessler, who went 0-8 with Cleveland in 2016, will make

his first start in two years.

Those tweaks could provide a spark for Jacksonville and might be a

challenge for the Colts.

”I have been in the situation before on the other side where we

have had a quarterback change, whether it be by injury or you are

just changing,” Colts coach Frank Reich said. ”In my experiences,

it’s not quite as big of a deal as everybody thinks.

”It’s usually not as big a systematic change as people might

think. You nuance a couple things, you shift a couple things, but

mostly you are running your system. So he will be ready. He’s been

running their system, right? He’s been running their system, been

in it, so we will just prepare against what we have been seeing on

tape.”

Indy won’t have to prepare for Jacksonville’s best offensive

player. Running back Leonard Fournette was suspended one game

without pay for leaving the sideline, running across the field and

instigating a fight at Buffalo last week. The penalty will cost

Fournette about $100,000.

Former Browns running back Carlos Hyde is expected to start in

place of Fournette.

Jacksonville also will be without left guard Andrew Norwell

(ankle), who became the third O-line starter and fifth lineman to

land on injured reserve.

”We’ve had some injuries,” center Tyler Shatley said. ”You hate

to see that.”

The Colts know the feeling, having played all of last season

without quarterback Andrew Luck and losing by a combined score of

57-10 in two games against Jacksonville in 2017.

Now, Indy is going for its first six-game winning streak since

2009, and Luck has three or more touchdown passes in eight

consecutive games.

”You work together and you should be getting a little better every

day,” Luck said. ”It’s great to see it show up on the field, but

we know as the season goes on, the challenge gets a little bigger

and the climb gets a little tougher.”

Here are some other things to know about the Colts and Jaguars:

TIGHT SPOT

No team has been more proficient finding tight ends this season

than the Colts.

Eric Ebron already has 11 touchdown catches, matching his total

from the previous four seasons, and he’s tied for the league lead

with Antonio Brown and Tyreek Hill. In fact, Andrew Luck has thrown

18 of his 32 TD passes to tight ends – more than twice as many as

any other team.

PENALTY PROBLEMS

The Jaguars are hoping to play a little cleaner. They lead the NFL

with 22 personal fouls, and Marrone has grown tired of all the

flags for undisciplined behavior .

”The way the team plays is a reflection on me,” Marrone said. ”I

understand that. I’ve always taken a lot of pride in having a

well-disciplined, smart football team and obviously I’m not getting

that done.”

HOLDING THE LINE

The biggest turnaround for Indy has come on the offensive line. The

Colts have given up just 11 sacks all season, matching New Orleans

for the league low and have allowed just one over the last six

weeks.

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