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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Cody Manning

Colts vs. Jaguars: 5 things to watch in Week 6

The Indianapolis Colts (3-2) are on the road this week to have their second matchup of the season against the Jacksonville Jaguars (3-2).

This game will create an AFC South leader with both teams sitting at a 3-2 record and the rest of the division with a 2-3 record heading into Week 6. Things haven’t been favorable for the Colts in Duval County.

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They have lost eight straight games in Jacksonville and that 2014 win happens to be the last time Indy won the AFC South. The Jaguars have outscored the Colts 232-104 in their eight-game winning streak at home in this series.

The Jags will be looking to sweep Indianapolis for the first time since 2017. The Week 1 matchup was won by Jacksonville in a 31-21 game but it was a lot closer than the final score indicated.

Indy had a lead heading into the fourth quarter until the Jaguars were able to pull away late and keep a comeback attempt at bay from the Colts. This is a much-improved team in Indianapolis since that Week 1 game so there should be more confidence from the young players entering this contest.

It should be another hard-fought divisional matchup in Jacksonville. Here are five things to watch when they hit the field on Sunday:

Gardner Minshew revenge game

(Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

Minshew Mania was born in Duval County. It captivated the Jaguars fanbase as he brought some excitement to the franchise in the post-Blake Bortles era. In 23 starts for Jacksonville, he threw for 5,530 yards, 37 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions.

He had a 7-16 record as their starter but he was on some bad teams and he was a factor in making them competitive. Then came Trevor Lawrence, which put an end to his time as the starter for the franchise. Fast forward a couple of years later, Gardner Minshew will be returning to Duval County as a starter due to Anthony Richardson being sidelined with his AC joint injury.

Minshew has been great for the Colts in his first season with the franchise. He took over twice for an injured Richardson and was able to guide the team to a win in both contests. In his one start, he helped beat the Baltimore Ravens in an overtime road game.

Minshew has a 68.7% completion percentage entering Week 6. He’s thrown for 553 yards and two touchdowns. He has yet to throw an interception but has fumbled once but that ball was recovered by Indianapolis so technically he hasn’t turned over the ball.

It will be interesting to see how Shane Steichen plans to attack the Jags’ defense. They’ve been stout against the run but teams have found success in the air. Jacksonville is giving up 262.4 passing YPG, which is the sixth-most allowed in the NFL.

Three quarterbacks have thrown for over 280 yards in three of their last four games. The Colts shouldn’t go all-in on Minshew winning this game with his arm but it may come down to him and the passing attack finding early success in the air to help open rushing lanes for Jonathan Taylor and Zack Moss.

Will we see one last Minshew Mania in Duval County? If it happens, then the Colts will finally snap that eight-game losing streak in Jacksonville.

Can the secondary limit Calvin Ridley's impact?

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Calvin Ridley has just two games in which he’s finished over 100 receiving yards in his first season with the Jaguars and one of those performances came against the Colts in their Week 1 win. In that contest, Ridley finished with eight receptions on 11 targets for 101 yards and a touchdown.

He is coming off his second 100-yard game against the Buffalo Bills in London. As Trevor Lawrence’s safety valve in that matchup, he had seven receptions on eight targets for 122 yards.

Gus Bradley’s rookie corners JuJu Brents and Jaylon Jones will have their hands full facing Ridley. His precise route running can give them fits so it will be ideal to have the safeties help keep an eye on him throughout the afternoon.

If the Colts can limit the Lawrence-Ridly connection this go around then they should be in a position to win the game in the fourth quarter.

The Jonathan Taylor and Zack Moss rushing attack

(Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

Can the Colts have back-to-back weeks finding success on the ground against one of the better rush defenses in the NFL? After having Zack Moss pop off against the Tennessee Titans, they will be facing a Jacksonville defense that is only allowing 81.6 rushing YPG.

That is the fifth-lowest mark across the league. The Jags have only allowed one running back (Bijan Robinson) to run over 100 yards and that Atlanta Falcons matchup also happens to be the one game that a team’s RB room combined for over 100 rushing yards against their defense.

With the Jonathan Taylor drama settled, all of a sudden the Colts feature one of the best running back tandems in the league. Zack Moss has played great football over the past month and is coming off a career game against the Titans.

After having a limited role in his return, expect to see more of Jonathan Taylor this week. Shane Steichen confirmed that to the media this week.

“Yeah, we’re going to ramp him up again this week in practice,” Steichen. “Obviously, we are going today in pads to keep getting him going.”

One thing that played into the Week 1 loss to the Jags was the inability to get the ground game going by the Colts. Outside of Anthony Richardson, the running backs (no Moss) combined for 25 yards on 16 carries in the matchup.

An efficient rushing attack would help put the offense in favorable third-down situations, something they rarely were in during the previous meetup. Having Taylor and Moss wear down the Jaguars’ defense can help the team close out the game if they have a lead in the final minutes.

Don't let Trevor Lawrence take over

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The start of the season hasn’t been MVP-caliber like some anticipated in the preseason but Trevor Lawrence is on pace to have his best season in his NFL career in his Year 3. His completion percentage (67.2%), passing YPG (251.6), interception percentage (1.1%), and passing success rate (51.8%) would all be career-best marks.

Lawrence has a 3-2 record against the Colts. In the previous five matchups, he has thrown for 1,026 yards, seven touchdowns, and one interception. Over the last three meetings, he has an 82.1% completion percentage (69/84) while throwing for 641 yards, five touchdowns, and one interception.

The issue for the Indy defense in those games has been their inability to get consistent pressure on Lawrence. When he finds his rhythm, he can dice up a defense with ease. The Colts were able to get home on him in their first meetup this season.

Gus Bradley’s unit finished two sacks, and four QB hits, and forced a fumble that led to a go-ahead score for Indianapolis.

The Colts will need more production but the last game was a step in the right direction in comparison to last year’s contests with the Jaguars. Another thing that Bradley’s defense needs to be ready for is when Lawrence looks to pick up yards with his legs.

It is one of the underrated parts of his game. He’s currently averaging 26.4 rushing YPG, which would be a career-high. Lawrence has picked up eight rushing first downs. He’s yet to score a rushing touchdown but he has seven in his first two seasons. He got five of them in 2022 under Doug Pederson.

In the last two games against the Colts, Lawrence has run over 20 yards and picked up a couple of rushing touchdowns in the final meetup in 2022.

Disrupting Lawrence’s flow is the biggest key to slowing down this Jags offense. It’s going to be an 11-man effort on Sunday. The defensive front needs to disrupt the pocket and the backend has to keep the passing lanes tight.

Keep an eye on Quenton Nelson

Syndication: The Indianapolis Star

It’s a natural thing to follow the ball when watching a football game but if you can at times, give a gander to Quenton Nelson’s way. The star guard looks like he is rounding back into his All-Pro form and this past Sunday was a big indicator that he is back.

Just looking at the Next Gen Stats, Shane Steichen ran behind Nelson on the majority of Zack Moss’ carries and found major success.

Moss had 70.9% of his rushing yards running behind Nelson. It was kicked off with Moss’ 56-yard touchdown run. Nelson and Ryan Kelly create a wide-open rushing lane for Moss on a perfectly executed play by the offensive line.

One of his most impressive reps came against All-Pro defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons.

On Moss’ second touchdown, it was Nelson who created a crease for Moss to squeeze through for his second touchdown of the game.

To cap off his performance, on what ended up being the game-sealing drive, Nelson opened up a lane for Moss to pick up a first down and help bleed the clock down.

The play by the offensive line has been night and day compared to the 2022 season thus far. The reemergence of Nelson combined with improvement across the unit has Shane Steichen’s offense heading in the right direction.

They should get some reinforcement on Sunday, Bernhard Raimann is in the final stages of concussion protocol and if he is cleared then the Colts will have their left tackle back after his two-game absence.

Another dominant effort in the trenches by Nelson and company can set up a successful Sunday afternoon for the Indy offense.

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