Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

15 Oct 2007

This Week's Game Of The Century Means More Than Last Week's

Before the season started, we projected Jacksonville to be one of the best teams in the league. Then Jack Del Rio took a tomahawk to his starting quarterback, the run defense was shredded by Tennessee and everyone in Jacksonville promptly stopped going to the games. Four straight wins later and the Jags are looking very much like an elite team, and they head into a Monday night showdown against Indy that neither team can afford to lose if they want to keep up with New England in the race for homefield. Oh, and David Garrard is playing lights-out. You got us on that one, Jack.

Posted by: Sean McCormick on 15 Oct 2007

36 comments, Last at 16 Oct 2007, 1:29pm by Brian

Comments

1
by pawnking (not verified) :: Mon, 10/15/2007 - 2:07pm

This will be a facinating game. How will it play out? The big questions:
1) Will the Jags make Peyton march slowly, shortening the game as seems to be the only way to compete with him?
2) Will the Jags be able to run as effectively against a seemingly different Colts' D?
3) Is Garrard a real QB or will opposing DC's catch up to him, starting with the Tampa 2 run by the man who perfected it?

I agree with the title above. This game is a lot more interesting than the Dallas/Pats one.

2
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Mon, 10/15/2007 - 2:17pm

If last week's game of the century was the Bledsoe Backup Bowl, then of course this week's means more. The B^3 was an inter-conference game; Inady/Jax is intra-division.

Heck, Dallas and New England both face a more meaningful (if weaker on paper) opponent this week.

3
by Al H (not verified) :: Mon, 10/15/2007 - 2:20pm

I honestly have no clue what will happen in this game. The Jags secondary has been pretty shaky outside the redzone. The run defense has been lights out and yet they're not getting much pressure on QBs.....although most of the QBs they've played against have been more effective outside the pocket.

Offensively, they REALLY need at least some help from a receiver not named Northcutt. Their tight ends are playing much better, but Williams and Jones are still busts. 2 fumbles for Williams and Matt Jones can't catch the one play he was really drafted for, the fade.

Should be a great game though, I know I'll be enjoying it from my seat in section 410!

4
by Sam (not verified) :: Mon, 10/15/2007 - 2:32pm

The only thing that scares me is rookie Reggie Nelson at free safety. Williams and Jones may or may not be busts, but they haven't played well all season and the offense is just fine. I still think the Colts are vulnerable against physical teams - like Tennessee and Jacksonville. If Reggie Hayward is healthy for the game, Jacksonville has a very good defensive line rotation. Their linebackers are better with Clint Ingram back. Brian Williams is playing well.

as far as Garrard... he's not some rookie quarterback nobody has tape on. This is his 6th year in the league. This will be his 25th start (I'm counting the 2005 game when leftwich went down on the first pass of the game as a start for DG) and 33rd game. It's not like he doesn't practice against a team that uses various Cover-2 schemes. I don't think the Colts are going to be able to stop the Jags running game (which seems to have been instantly upgraded w/ Brad Meester's return) AND cover Northcutt AND 2 pass-catching tight ends AND contain Garrard's scrambling.

5
by Ben (not verified) :: Mon, 10/15/2007 - 2:34pm

I think this will be the game which reveals whether the Colts defensive improvements are for real or not. The Colts 'D' certainly seems better, but the Jags have been getting good production out of their running game lately.

Speaking of which, does anyone have an explanation as to why the Jags seem to get a lot of long runs? Or is that not the case and it just appears that way? It seems like every week I'm seeing Jags RB stats like "5 carries, 87 yards" scrolling across the bottom of the screen...

6
by Al H (not verified) :: Mon, 10/15/2007 - 3:05pm

Re: #5

They have had quite a few really long runs in the past couple games. Those have been because the offensive line has stepped up their blocking bigtime, and getting center Meester back this past weekend improved that even further. Each of the long runs have been because a huge block is sprung at the line, although Reggie Williams has been a big help there also.

Now that I think about it, that's probably why Williams gets so many chances to prove himself in the passing game....if you just brought him in on a rush, it'd be pretty transparent.

7
by Fourth (not verified) :: Mon, 10/15/2007 - 3:26pm

Re: 4

You know who else is worried about Reggie Nelson? The Indy receiving corps.

70% of the earth's surface is covered by water. The rest is covered by Reggie Nelson.

8
by Al H (not verified) :: Mon, 10/15/2007 - 3:28pm

#7:

I love Reggie Nelson, loved him on the Gators....but....he's a rookie safety in the pros. I'm pretty sure Peyton Manning has no fear of him. He probably has more concern for Sammy Knight!

9
by Fourth (not verified) :: Mon, 10/15/2007 - 3:30pm
10
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Mon, 10/15/2007 - 4:31pm

Fourth (#7, #9)--

I was wavering on this game as to which side to pick. Now (unless FO gets flooded with rabid Colt fans) it's over.

The Colts will win, if the FOMBC has any power at all.

11
by Yaguar (not verified) :: Mon, 10/15/2007 - 5:01pm

I love that we're supposed to be worried about covering Dennis Northcutt. That's all I'm going to say, for risk of invoking some sort of curse.

The obvious elephant in the room is the resurgent MJD, who is making a strong bid to unseat Tom Brady as the #1 Colts Killer in the league. (28 carries, 269 yards in his career vs Indy.)

If the Jags win, it's because MJD has completely taken over the game.

12
by Sam (not verified) :: Mon, 10/15/2007 - 5:46pm

I'm not saying "you" have to be worried about covering Dennis Northcutt, as though covering him is the key to the game. I'm saying it's going to be difficult to stop him from getting first downs if you are covering two tight ends and maurice jones drew AND david garrard. The Tampa-2 isn't magic. Northcutt has been catching a lot of balls on routes that typically are able to exploit a Tampa-2 anyway.

13
by Sam (not verified) :: Mon, 10/15/2007 - 5:46pm

P.S.
I love that you refer to the team in the first person plural. As though you actually are coming to play next Monday.

14
by Rollo (not verified) :: Mon, 10/15/2007 - 6:02pm

This game should be a great one. Jax's rushing attack is back on track now that Center Brad Meester is back. But, the safeties have been exposed, and the defense great in the red zone to cover them so far. I expect Manning to toast them like teal covered peeps and convert in the red zone, making the game a question of, can Jax's offense play ball control and score enough to edge out a shootout?

15
by Sundown (not verified) :: Mon, 10/15/2007 - 6:06pm

11: "...MJD, who is making a strong bid to unseat Tom Brady as the #1 Colts Killer in the league."

He is an amazing 1-1 for his career versus the Colts. He must have been making a "moderate" bid while he was still in college!

16
by Yaguar (not verified) :: Mon, 10/15/2007 - 6:23pm

15: It's pretty hard to find people who have winning records vs the Colts, primarily because they have lost only 7 games total since the beginning of 2005, including playoffs. MJD singlehandedly handed them one of their losses last year, and nearly did it twice. That's not bad at all.

Re: the "You can't stop Dennis Northcutt, David Garrard, and two tight ends" thing -

Wow, you guys are really starved for offensive weapons. I'm perfectly willing to admit that MJD is godly, but nobody quavers in fear of Garrard and Wrighster.

17
by deshawn zombie (not verified) :: Mon, 10/15/2007 - 6:31pm

What's amazing about this game, is that both teams are likely better than Dallas and more equipped to beat New England (They both can run the ball and stop the run-something New England can't do), but this game won't get a fraction of the hype, nor will the winner be crowned the sure fire super bowl champion in week 7. If Jacksonville or Indy had to play in the snow and wind of NE in January, would there be any reason to pick against them, when a vertical passing game seems to be the only thing that works for NE (albeit that it works very, very well). Siiigh, why is this site the last place on earth where people still care about football instead of insane hyped out statements. Heck, even the Jags fans that show here are a little bit smart!

18
by iapetus (not verified) :: Mon, 10/15/2007 - 6:41pm

16: It's all part of the Jaguars master plan. Against any other team, it's clear who's the #1 receiver your best corner has to cover. But we have no #1 receiver. While your corners look around in confusion for someone to cover, Matt Jones will sneak past them into the end zone and drop a perfectly thrown TD pass.

...

I didn't say it was a good master plan.

19
by Fourth (not verified) :: Mon, 10/15/2007 - 7:04pm

Re: starshatterer 10.

Hahahah, yeah I was just having a little fun because I have a huge mancrush on him. I couldn't really care less who wins the Jags/Colts game. I don't think that qualifies for FOMBC. Besides, the legions of overly concerned Jags fans here are like an elite anti-fombc strike force. (I can't believe I just said "legions...of Jags fans," seriously people go buy tickets before the Jags are playing home games in LA.)

:)

20
by iapetus (not verified) :: Mon, 10/15/2007 - 7:05pm

18: Actually, I retract that comment. Unlike the Colts, the Jaguars had a receiver selected for one of Deion Sanders' top plays of the week. It's #8 on the video. Until the Colts prove they can stop this guy, we'll throw to him all day.

21
by Fourth (not verified) :: Mon, 10/15/2007 - 7:08pm
22
by DolFan 316 (not verified) :: Mon, 10/15/2007 - 9:02pm

You can't call this the game of the century--Brady, ROMO and TO aren't even involved. What kind of game is that?!

Nope, the Pats-Cowboys game HAD to be the most significant NFL regular season game ever, because the media told me so and they're ALWAYS right.

In fact, if I have a son I'm naming him Espen. (A couple a few years ago actually did that BTW.)

23
by Jake (not verified) :: Mon, 10/15/2007 - 9:17pm

What’s amazing about this game, is that both teams are likely better than Dallas and more equipped to beat New England (They both can run the ball and stop the run-something New England can’t do),
They can't?
NE - 2nd Rushing Offense, 4th rushing defense according to DVOA. Indy is 1st/16th, JAX is 19/22.
If you use yards/game its 7th and 5th for the Pats, and their net rushing yards (off-def /game) easily beat both Indy and Jacksonville.
And thats with Maroney missing 3 games and Richard Seymour due back in the next three weeks or so.

24
by John (not verified) :: Mon, 10/15/2007 - 10:23pm

#18 definitely wins the thread. I haven't laughed that much at a FO post in months.

25
by deshawn zombie (not verified) :: Tue, 10/16/2007 - 12:08am

#23 Trust your eyes, and not the stat sheet. The Pats numbers are skewed due to a weird game against a Bengals team that couldn't field a line backer, and from playing with huge leads. You could see it on the field yesterday. They are the same team that lost the AFC Championship game becuase their LBs couldn't stop the run and because they couldn't run it. They gave up 6.5 yards a rush yesteday and ran for 2.6. It was the first close game they've played this year against a somewhat decent team, and they were exposed. This team isn't built to win in January, and it'll show up once the weather goes south. They are the 04 Colts all over again.

26
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Tue, 10/16/2007 - 12:20am

The Pats numbers are skewed due to a weird game against a Bengals team that couldn’t field a line backer, and from playing with huge leads.
DVOA takes those situations into account, and the Patriots' run offense and defense rank better under DVOA.

As for yesterday's game, I'll wait for this week's DVOA numbers -- Dallas has a *very* good running game.

27
by DolFan 316 (not verified) :: Tue, 10/16/2007 - 12:23am

#25: A poor Dolfan like me can only hope and pray that you are right!

28
by Bobman (not verified) :: Tue, 10/16/2007 - 1:34am

Deshawn, Purds brought this up this morning in another thread, that Indy may be better equipped for a foul-weather playoff game than NE. I'm not sure it's true (thinking of Freeney and Mathis without their sure dome footing), but the irony would be massive if so.

29
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Tue, 10/16/2007 - 1:36am

17.

"They both can run the ball and stop the run-something New England can’t do"

DVOA heartily disagrees.

30
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Tue, 10/16/2007 - 9:35am

Indy may be better equipped for a foul-weather playoff game than NE.
Buffalo did all right in the playoffs for years with their K-gun approach. How's the January weather in Buffalo?

If your passing game is much better than your running game, you just use more cuts and double-moves on a slick field. Receivers may fall, but the defensive backs fall more often (since the receivers can prepare for their cuts, while the d-backs have to react).

31
by Sam (not verified) :: Tue, 10/16/2007 - 9:43am

Yaguar,

"Wow, you guys are really starved for offensive weapons. I’m perfectly willing to admit that MJD is godly, but nobody quavers in fear of Garrard and Wrighster."

Yeah, kind of how Jacksonville feels about your defense.

32
by black (not verified) :: Tue, 10/16/2007 - 10:23am

woo hoo a place to discuss the jaguars.

I'll restate what i always say, somebody take the fade play out of the playbook to matt jones.

Dennis Northcut really is good at getting open on the under routes (garrard is good at throwing those too).

Jaguars haven't really covered tight ends that well; (not looking at any data just from watching the games).

If the jags make the colts slowly march down the field their will only be about 4 possessions in this game.

We beat the texans so the colts have NO CHANCE.

33
by Jake (not verified) :: Tue, 10/16/2007 - 10:33am

25 "Trust your eyes, and not the stat sheet. "
I've seen every Patriots snap this year and I do. I stand by my assessment. The Patriots can run the ball and can stop the run. They can do so better (taking both sides into account) than the Jags or the Colts.
Patriots rushing plays:202
Patriots passing plays:204

34
by Yaguar (not verified) :: Tue, 10/16/2007 - 12:30pm

31: Hey, we have Bob Sanders and, um, an injured Freddie Keiaho? That has to count for something, right?

35
by gmc (not verified) :: Tue, 10/16/2007 - 12:34pm

The Patriots are a great team, but they aren't the best team ever and may not be the best in the league this year (Indy and Jacksonville next week being the battle of contenders).

They've put up great numbers against Cleveland (three more points than Miami!), Cincinnati (about the same as Kansas City), San Diego (a good team, but Tomlinson was still hibernating), Buffalo (It's Buffalo), and now a very good but obviously flawed Cowboys unit whose star quarterback hurt his rotator cuff in the first quarter.

Seriously, Brady isn't even top 5 in this league in talent; he just has lots of time and is very good at sticking to the plan and going through reads.

I'd love to see them play Baltimore. Maybe a win, 2-0?

36
by Brian (not verified) :: Tue, 10/16/2007 - 1:29pm

This game is going to be an exciting one. I think the edge depends on how many and how soon the Colts can get their injured players back. Obviously Morris is gone for the season, but the rest of them are all possible to practice and play this week.