A Week 18 schedule replete with divisional clashes features an AFC South matchup between the Indianapolis Colts and Jacksonville Jaguars.
Despite Jacksonville’s league-worst 2-14 record, this game actually has postseason implications — if the Colts win they’ll secure a spot in the playoffs without having to rely on several other improbable outcomes that are out of their control.
Indianapolis put itself in this position by blowing a Week 17 lead against the Raiders at home and ultimately falling 23-20 on a last-second field goal by Daniel Carlson.
The loss was the Colts’ fifth this season at Lucas Oil Stadium and transpired even with Jonathan Taylor contributing yet another 100-yard effort on the ground.
Meanwhile, the Jaguars suffered a Week 17 loss that was humbling even by this season’s abysmal standards.
Jacksonville was throttled 50-10 in New England, with only a Dare Ogunbowale 28-yard touchdown grab late in the fourth quarter preventing an even more embarrassing scoreline.
Trevor Lawrence also threw another three interceptions, bringing his season total to 17.
Let’s dive deeper with our Colts vs Jaguars predictions and best bets and see which team will emerge victorious.
Please note that all NFL gameday odds are current as of 1 p.m. EST on Friday, January 7.
Colts vs Jaguars Prediction
There are several aspects of the 2021-22 Colts season that have been undeniably positive, with the successful Carson Wentz reclamation project and an MVP-worthy campaign by Taylor certainly at the top of the list.
That’s precisely what sometimes makes the inconsistency displayed by Frank Reich‘s squad so confounding.
However, fortunately for Indianapolis as far as a Week 18 context is concerned, most of their problems have actually come on their home field.
Indy is an impressive 5-2 straight up when traveling, with victories in San Francisco, Buffalo, and Arizona notably on that section of their resume.
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Indy now has the opportunity to secure an opportunity to continue playing past Sunday in this trip to Jacksonville, a location that’s strangely given the team trouble in recent seasons.
However, given the Jaguars’ recent play and depleted offensive cast — not to mention what’s at stake for the Colts — the conditions appear ripe for that trend to be curtailed.
The Colts’ biggest strengths by far — an elite offensive line facilitating 5.2 yards per carry and a lead back in Taylor averaging an even more impressive 5.5 per tote — dovetail perfectly with the Jaguars’ biggest defensive weakness.
Jacksonville is allowing a robust 127.1 rushing yards per game overall, including an NFL-high 176.3 per contest in the last three.
That advantage should allow Reich to once again lean heavily on Taylor, even as he also looks to get Wentz enough opportunities to continue working out the kinks after the quarterback looked out of sorts at times against Las Vegas following a practice week that he only attended virtually due to COVID-19 protocols.
On the other side, Lawrence will be closing the chapter on an exceedingly difficult rookie season made all the more challenging by the losses of three of his most explosive weapons — D.J. Chark, Jamal Agnew and James Robinson.
The attrition has left the rookie with precious little for defenses to really have to worry about, giving teams the opportunity to key in on him and play suffocating coverage on his remaining healthy pass catchers.
Indianapolis has been very tough on the road against the run (102.9 RYPG allowed), which also sets up the possibility of Jacksonville being rendered largely one-dimensional.
This becomes even likelier when considering it will be the likes of Ogunbowale, Ryquell Armstead, and Mekhi Sargent in the backfield for the Jags.
Indy’s defense has conceded a stingy 212 passing yards per road game at just 9.7 yards per completion, while the Colts are also third in the NFL with 19 interceptions.
Given Lawrence’s ongoing issues with ball security, there’s certainly a chance of a turnover or two setting Wentz and company up for some easy points.
The win-and-in scenario for the Colts and the confidence they’ve built up from a successful season on the road should help make for an extremely focused team.
When also factoring in Jacksonville’s likely disinterest in the last game of an interim coach’s tenure, I like Indy to win fairly comfortably.
Prediction: Colts 31, Jaguars 10
Colts vs Jaguars Best Bets
Best Bet: Colts -15 (-110) at Caesars
Wager: 1 Unit
As mentioned earlier, the Colts have actually been a more effective road squad this season, and despite the fact Indy hasn’t won in Jacksonville since 2014, I like them to cover the two-touchdown-plus number currently listed in our NFL gameday odds.
From a statistical trend perspective, Indy is an outstanding 6-1 (85.7 percent) ATS as a road team this season and sport a robust and NFL-high ATS +/- of +12.5 points in that split.
Four of the Colts’ five road victories have come by margins of 10, 12, 26, and 31 points. In total, seven of Indianapolis’ nine victories have been by double digits.
Meanwhile, the Jaguars are 1-6 against the number at home, losing five games there by double digits in the process.
With Indy having no shortage of incentive and the Jags losing four of their last five contests overall by at least 14 points, I like the chances of the Colts pulling off the cover.
Best Bet: Colts -15.5 and Under 44.5 Total Points (+265) at FOX Bet
Wager: 1 Unit
In line with my prediction of a Colts cover and a total of just 41 points, I’m in the camp of this parlay at an excellent price.
The Jaguars are averaging an NFL-low 14.2 points per game, including 14.3 per home contest. Moreover, as injuries have progressively taken their toll on the Jags’ offense, the scoring has predictably dried up — Jacksonville has scored 10 points or fewer in six of its last 10 games.
The Over is also just 5-11 in Jacksonville’s games, including 2-5 in its home games.
The Over is also just 1-4 in Indy’s AFC South clashes, putting me in the camp of this prop as our NFL bet of the day.
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