Garrard Sacked (Phil Coale/AP)
The Jaguars open up the season with a trip to Indianapolis' Lucas Oil Stadium, a place where the Jags have never lost (albeit they've only played there once).
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Indianapolis Colts
Sunday, September 13th, 1:00 p.m.
Lucas Oil Stadium
Kickoff Temperature: Dome
Line: Colts by 7
Five most important things for the Jaguars:
1. Play loose. All the pressure is on Indianapolis, as seemingly nobody around the country believes the Jags can compete with the Colts. Play like there's no pressure on, and take some chances. There's nothing to lose.
2. Run the ball/control the clock. The key to beating Indianapolis is keeping Peyton Manning on the sideline. The Jaguars can do that with some long, time consuming drives. Jacksonville must out-rush the Colts or they will have no chance.
3. Block the ends. The Jaguars may have to do more max protect schemes to protect the rookie tackles against Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis, who are quite possibly the best pass rushing tandem in the AFC.
4. Make Manning move around. If Peyton Manning has time to set, look, and plant, the Jaguars will be picked apart easily. The Jags must change up their defensive looks and find a way to pressure Manning.
5. Convert third downs/no turnovers. The Jags need to convert a much higher percentage of third downs than they did during the preseason. It's too much to ask from Garrard to be the best quarterback on the field, but he must play mistake free ball.
What to look for:
1. Screens and draws from the Jaguars offense- One of the best ways to slow down a fierce pass rush is with screens and draws, and look for Maurice Jones-Drew to be involved in plenty of them.
2. Two or more combined sacks from Mathis and Freeney- The combination of two Pro Bowl defensive ends, trying to be blocked by a pair of rookie offensive tackles playing in the their first game, with a quarterback who holds on to the ball should equal sacks.
3. Look for MJD to go over 100 with a TD- Maurice Jones-Drew is the Jaguars best offensive weapon, and it's likely that he'll accumulate over 100 yards from scrimmage and find the end zone.
4. Look for a big return from Brian Witherspoon- The Jaguars have one of the fastest men on earth and he should find a crease in the Colts special teams.
5. Look for Garrard to throw for over 200 yards- The Colts will stack up the line of scrimmage to stop the run and force David Garrard to beat them. There will be some plays to be made through the air. The Jags will stay in the game if those plays are made and Garrard limits his turnovers.
Sleeper watch: Mike Walker, Melvin Bullitt