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Bold Prediction: Colts’ Offensive Line Battles To Protect Matt Ryan

The Jaguars absolutely destroyed the Colts, in Jacksonville, during their Week Two matchup. Will the Jaguars replicate that in Week Six? Or will the Colts come out on top?

The Colts are coming off five days of rest after beating the Broncos in their Week Five Thursday night matchup. The team heads back home to Indianapolis for their Week Six battle against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The last time the two teams met, the Jaguars beat the Colts 24-0. It was the first shutout of the young season, and the Colts eighth straight loss in Jacksonville. It’s bold prediction time, and here are my bold predictions for the Week Six matchup.

Colts’ Running Back Deon Jackson Has Big Day

Colts’ running backs Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines have been ruled out for Sunday’s matchup against the Jaguars. Taylor was a limited participant in practice on Thursday and Friday; Hines logged his first full practice on Friday. With Taylor and Hines missing the game, this means Deon Jackson, an undrafted second year player out of Duke, and Phillip Lindsay will have to carry the load again.

#Colts Deon Jackson with the big gain. — Arye Pulli (@AryePulliTSP) October 7, 2022

Deon Jackson (13 carries 62 yards, four receptions 29 yards) filled in well in Taylor and Hines’ absence. Deon Jackson will get his shot again in Week Six. (Can he build on the production he had in Week Five)? There is nothing like having Jonathan Taylor toting the ball for your offense, but I believe Deon Jackson will fill in well in the absence. Last week, four of Jackson’s 13 carries were over five yards, and he was averaging 4.8 yards per carry against the Broncos. Jackson even snagged a one-handed catch out of the backfield, taking it for 21 yards, spinning off defenders for the first down.

Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines has been ruled out. Deon Jackson is available in 97% of ESPN fantasy football leagues. He’s my preferred option over Phillip Lindsay in Week 6. — Moody (@EricNMoody) October 15, 2022

The Jaguars defense has given up 491 yards on the ground, which ranks them sixth in rushing defense (134 carries, 3.7 yards per carry, 98.2 yards per game). This game feels different; the offensive line has been reshuffled. Alec Pierce will be playing (and has emerged as a true receiving threat), and Michael Pittman, Jr. will be playing. With the Colts’ two top targets out there and no threat of Jonathan Taylor, running lanes should be open for the second-year player. This week, Frank Reich looks to establish the run, in order to slow down Jacksonville’s pass rushers. I predict Deon Jackson rushes 19 times for 95 yards and has five receptions for 30 yards and one touchdown.

Colts’ Offensive Line Protects Matt Ryan

Last week, the Colts reshuffled the offensive line. Rookie left tackle Bernhard Raimann finally got the start, Matt Pryor was moved to right tackle, and Braden Smith was moved to right guard. Frank Reich made this adjustment with the hopes of cleaning up the protection for Matt Ryan and giving him more time to dissect defenses. It didn’t completely go as planned. Matt Ryan was pressured on 17 of his 41 drop-backs and sacked six times. (Bernhard Raimann, let up five pressures according to Pro Football Focus, but gave up zero sacks.)

Matt Ryan has been sacked a total of 21 times through five games. He is on pace to be sacked 71 times this season if things do not change. The last time the Colts played the Jaguars, they were able to sack Matt Ryan five times. Things will need to look different this week if the Colts want to win this game.

My bet for the Colts' offensive line come Sunday: Raimann at LT Nelson at LG Kelly at C Pryor at RG Smith at RT — Zak Keefer (@zkeefer) October 14, 2022

Raimann will start at left tackle again this week against the Jaguars and will have his hands full with Josh Allen and Travon Walker. I believe he is up to the challenge. Matt Pryor is said to be starting at right guard for the matchup against the Jaguars, and I believe this is the last time we see him in the offensive line rotation.

Sounds like Colts are sticking with Bernhard Raimann at LT. Knew his debut would be rocky (it was) but they saw upside — and frankly, don't have a better option. "In order for him to get to where we need, gotta get those reps and have those growing pains," said OC Marcus Brady. — Zak Keefer (@zkeefer) October 11, 2022

Frank Reich said the plan is to keep Bernhard Raimann at left tackle and to build on his upside. — Nate Atkins (@NateAtkins_) October 12, 2022

I am predicting the Colts find the combination at offensive line this week that will take us through Week 18. The team will focus on running the ball and working the quick game to help protect Ryan. It is time to place Matt Pryor at “left bench”, insert Dennis Kelly at right tackle, and move Braden Smith to right guard. The team will make this adjustment in-game against the Jaguars after Pryor gives up a sack. The Colts’ line will go on to give up only one more sack, protecting Matt Ryan and giving him time to go through his progressions.

Colts’ Defense Stands Strong

After giving up 24 points in the first meeting and allowing Trevor Lawrence to look like an All-Pro quarterback, the Colts’ defense will anchor down. Trevor Lawrence completed 25 of 30 passes for 235 yards and two touchdowns in Week Two. Following that game, the defense held Patrick Mahomes to a 57.1% completion percentage for 262 yards one touchdown and 1 interception, Ryan Tannehill to an 80.9% completion percentage for 137 yards and two touchdowns (Henry did the heavy lifting), and Russell Wilson to a 53.8% completion percentage for 274 yards and two interceptions. (It would have been potentially three interceptions if the referee didn’t run into the safety.)

#Jaguars Trevor Lawrence to Kirk for the touchdown and the early lead over the #Colts — Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) September 18, 2022

In the last meeting, Indianapolis anchored down on run defense. Outside of the 37-yard touchdown run, the Jaguars rushed 37 times for 96 yards, averaging 2.6 yards per carry. Run defense has been a bright spot this season, only allowing 96.6 yards per game. This puts Indianapolis as the league’s fourth best rushing defense. Obviously, the defense was toasted in the passing game, but the last time Trevor played in Indianapolis (11/14/2021), he was 16 for 35, 162 yards, zero touchdowns, and lost one fumble. Can the defense hold Trevor Lawrence to this kind of production again?

Gus Bradley has been in his defensive bag of tricks. The Colts have been able to get pressure on quarterbacks by disguising coverages, mix and matching coverages, and running some zone blitzes. This will continue this week in order to confuse a young quarterback like Trevor Lawrence. Since Week Two, where the Colts registered zero sacks, they have been able to sack the quarterback a total of eight times (one against the Chiefs, three against the Titans, four against the Broncos). I believe the Gus-Bradley-led defense will continue to get pressure in Week Six. They will sack Trevor Lawrence three times and force him into two turnovers. This will help lead the Colts to a 24-14 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

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