Colts vs. Jaguars Odds, Picks, Predictions: Can Indianapolis Cover Big Spread In Must-Win NFL Week 18 Matchup?
Norm Hall/Getty Images. Pictured: Carson Wentz (No. 2).
- The latest Colts vs. Jaguars still position Indianapolis as a 14-point favorite with a chance to clinch an NFL playoff berth in Week 18.
- But can Carson Wentz and Co. really cover a spread that big? Our analyst doesn't think so.
- Find his picks and predictions in the full preview to betting Sunday's matchup below.
|Time||1 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NFL odds here.|
For the second consecutive year, the Indianapolis Colts meet the Jacksonville Jaguars in the final game of the regular season with Indy needing a win to make the playoffs. The Jaguars, meanwhile, are on the verge of the No. 1 overall pick in the draft — yet again — and have a chance to play spoiler against a division rival, this time at home.
The Colts had a chance to clinch a playoff spot last week, but an uninspiring performance at home against Las Vegas led to a Raiders comeback victory, 23-20, on a game-winning field goal on the game’s final play.
Jacksonville, meanwhile, was embarrassed on the road in New England as rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence threw three interceptions and the Patriots totaled 471 total yards in a 50-10 win.
The final week of the season often leads to certain teams being overpriced and underpriced based on certain classic “must-win” scenarios that don’t actually tend to make teams play significantly better.
This is a classic spot where the Colts wouldn’t be favored by 15 in a divisional road game if it was November. Because they “need the game,” though, the spread runs wild and gets over two touchdowns.
Click the arrow to expand injury reports
Colts vs. Jaguars Injury Report
- CB Xavier Rhodes (hamstring): Out
- DT DeForest Buckner (knee): Questionable
- TE James O’Shaughnessy (hip): Out
Colts vs. Jaguars Matchup
|Colts Offense||DVOA Rank||Jaguars Defense|
|Colts Defense||DVOA Rank||Jaguars Offense|
|Football Outsiders’ DVOA measures efficiency by comparing a team’s success on every play to the league average based on situation and opponent.|
Colts Offense Needs Better From Wentz
Indianapolis entered last week in a brutal flat spot off of back-to-back primetime wins against New England and Arizona, and it showed in the performance.
The always volatile Carson Wentz played poorly while Jonathan Taylor eclipsed 100 yards rushing, but it only felt like the Colts really imposed their will on the ground on just one drive. Wentz’s inaccuracy and decision making hurt the offense and, outside of a fluke long touchdown to T.Y. Hilton that deflected off two Raider defenders, Indianapolis had one long scoring drive all game.
The good news for the Colts offense is Wentz has tended to follow his bad games with good ones.
There's one silver lining about Carson Wentz's up and down season. Since Week 3, he has always bounced back after having a bad week.
Let's hope that holds this week vs the Jags. pic.twitter.com/YnbdfiCIhB
— After Dayo Odeyingbo (@VeveJones007) January 5, 2022
The bad news for Indianapolis is that Wentz has been riding his luck in the turnover department, and Jacksonville hasn’t forced many this year. That’s a bad sign for this Colts offense because turnovers tend to be somewhat random, not repeatable and reliably consistent over time. Wentz only has six interceptions on this season, but his 16 turnover-worthy plays, per PFF, mean he could have a ton of turnover regression coming.
Indianapolis will look to establish Taylor on the ground and should be able to run the ball effectively against the Jaguars. But it will take a while for the Colts to move down the field since they play at the slowest pace in the NFL and Jacksonville’s defense is marginally better against the run (21st) than the pass (32nd) this season.
The biggest issue for the Colts’ passing offense outside of Wentz is that Michael Pittman Jr. is the only bonafide starting NFL wide receiver on the roster. He accounts for 30% of the Colts receiving yards this year and taking him away, as Las Vegas did, can really make Indianapolis struggle to hit intermediate plays down the field for chunk yards.
Lawrence Struggling as Rookie Season With Jags Ends
The Jaguars might be one of the worst teams in the NFL and just 2-14, but they were arguably the better team in the first matchup between these squads back in November.
The Jags had the edge in yardage and yards per play, and they dominated the last three quarters of the game. Indianapolis’ offense was held to just 170 yards on the nine drives that followed the Colts’ early 10-0 lead. The difference in the game was a Jacksonville missed field goal and a Colts blocked punt return.
The primary concern in backing Jacksonville is Lawrence, who has actually gotten worse in the second half of the season. Now without James Robinson in the backfield, the Jacksonville run game could also take a hit in efficiency. Lawrence has three big-time throws and nine turnover-worthy plays in the last four weeks. Since the start of November, he has thrown just two touchdowns to eight interceptions.
Lawrence has been significantly better from clean pockets than he’s been under pressure this year, though, and Indianapolis’ defense ranks pretty low in generating pressure as a whole. When Lawrence faced off with the Colts in November, he matched Wentz’s performance but was generally ineffective.
Jacksonville’s run defense since Week 12 ranks 22nd in Expected Points Added (EPA) per play and 18th in Success Rate allowed. That means if the Jaguars can force Wentz into passing downs, the Colts offense could struggle to produce. Since Week 12, Indianapolis ranks just 22nd in passing EPA per play and that’s not nearly good enough to get this kind of margin.
Colts vs. Jaguars Predictions
Believe it or not, Indianapolis has not won in Jacksonville since 2014. That includes multiple puzzling defeats, like the 2018 loss with Andrew Luck at quarterback that ended 6-0, and the Gardner Minshew game to open the 2020 season — Jacksonville’s only win last year. When these two teams met in the same spot last season in Indy, the Jaguars were within a score for almost the entire game until the Colts pulled away late to win by 14.
Earlier this year, the Colts raced out to a 17-0 lead and held on for dear life, winning 23-17 after a strip sack of Trevor Lawrence on the final drive.
The Colts offense isn’t good enough to be laying 15 on the road against anyone, and the trends are there for teams coming off of a blowout loss like Jacksonville is from last week.
You have to play the number here on the Jags and hope that they can keep Jonathan Taylor somewhat in check and force Carson Wentz to beat them. Wentz is unlikely to do enough to cover multiple touchdowns given the offensive passing limitations the Colts have had for the last month.
Given the turnover regression coming for Wentz and the inflated line in a must-win spot for the Colts, I like the Jaguars at anything more than two touchdowns.
Pick: Jaguars +15 | Bet to: +14
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