WINNERSANDWHINERS.COM – When and where: November 17, 2019, Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, IN, 1:00 PM ET
Quarterback Nick Foles returns in the nick of time for the Jacksonville Jaguars’ pivotal divisional showdown on the road against the Indianapolis Colts. Since getting knocked out in Week 1 with a shoulder injury, Foles has bided his time through surgery and rehab all in an effort to return behind center. That brings an end to the Gardner Minshew era—for now. After losing to the Houston Texans, the Jaguars will look to salvage whatever is left of their 4-5 season by taking aim at a Colts team coming off consecutive losses to the Pittsburgh Steelers and Miami Dolphins.
Can Foles be magical for the Jags?
“Foles Magic” is a legitimate phenomenon.
It’s the reason why a team like the Philadelphia Eagles would be so reluctant to let him walk out the door as a backup despite already having a franchise quarterback on their roster. He has a tendency of dragging teams back from the dead and carrying them to the playoffs. But the rapidly deteriorating situation with the Jaguars might be too much for him to overcome.
He can start by going on the road and knocking off a tough Colts team with quarterback Jacoby Brissett likely returning behind center. That would call for a spirited performance from a Jaguars defense that seems to lose a little more hope each season. Brissett isn’t the type of quarterback to make a lot of mistakes, and it can be a bit frustrating defending against him at times, particularly when he’s playing behind the Fort Knox of offensive line protection.
However, there could be limited playmakers for the injury-riddled Colts on Sunday, setting the stage for a sluggish offensive effort. Foles will be a bit rusty when stepping back onto the field after missing half the season. The Colts are no cupcake defense for a return game, and he could struggle getting his timing down with his receivers. This is a game where the Jaguars will be heavily dependent on their defense to hold up on their end to give the offense time to figure things out.
Reich and Foles reunited on Sunday
Colts head coach Frank Reich has a knack for changing the narrative on quarterbacks that have been deemed incapable of making a living as starters in the NFL. He was joined at the hip with Foles during his magical Super Bowl LII run as an offensive coordinator for the Philadelphia Eagles. This season has been all about the improvements of Jacoby Brissett and the Colts overachieving.
There are few coaches in the league that know Foles better than Reich.
It could play a pivotal role in how the Colts decide to attack on defense. Their secondary is rarely mentioned among the other elite groups in the league, but they are top-10 against the pass with a decently stout defensive front. The goal should obviously be generating pressure and forcing Foles to have to step up and make big throws after missing so much time with his team.
The possible return of Brissett is huge for the Colts, especially after having a front row seat to the Hoyer disaster from last week. He’ll settle down the offense and get them back to operating at optimum efficiency. It’s one thing to get beat up by the Pittsburgh Steelers’ defense, but things were reaching all-time levels of bad to see them shut down by the Dolphins.
The Jaguars still have some serious playmakers to potentially wreck a game, but this isn’t the same vaunted defense that it used to be. Perhaps the biggest concern for the Colts is No. 1 receiver T.Y. Hilton being officially listed as doubtful for the game with a calf injury. Tight end Jack Doyle and running back Jordan Wilkins were also held out of practice on Wednesday with injuries.
Update (11/15): It’s official Jacoby Brissett is back for the Colts. The quarterback from NC State missed last week’s game due to a sprained MCL in his right knee. However, star wide receiver T.Y. Hilton will be out for a third consecutive week due to a calf injury.
There might be some familiarities, but Reich didn’t write the book on Foles.
The Jaguars are coming off a bye week after getting hammered into the ground by the Texans. So they’ve had an extra week to get healthy while stewing on the loss. The return of Foles should give the team an added boost of confidence. He’s an experienced quarterback with a Super Bowl MVP sitting on his mantle.
The Jaguars are returning to health after the break and seem poised to at least take a shot at a late playoff run. As for the Colts, there are too many injuries on the offensive side of the ball to not be concerned heading into Sunday. Hilton is already listed as doubtful (Colts are 0-7 without him), and there’s also a chance the team could be without Doyle and Wilkins. Jalen Ramsey might have left the Jaguars, but “Sacksonville” is still in the building. It’ll be an intriguing battle watching the Jaguars’ defensive front come to blows with the Colts offensive line in the trenches.
There are some concerns for the Jaguars in the run game, but their ability to limit the explosive plays will keep them in the game. It’ll take a few drives for Foles and company to get warmed up, but late in the fourth quarter, he’ll lead a game-winning drive to add to his growing list of magic acts. I’m taking the Jaguars and the points.
Prediction: Jacksonville Jaguars (+2.5)
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Full-Game Total Pick
I’m expecting more of a low-scoring and mostly defensive game from these two teams on Sunday. Foles has missed half of the season, and it’s going to take time for him to get in sync with his new group of receivers. Even with all of the work they’ve put in behind the scenes at practice, there is no replacement for actual in-game action.
Meanwhile, Brissett’s offensive help appears to be dwindling with a growing list of injuries. Neither one of these teams is the first that comes to mind when talking about great defenses in 2019, but they have quietly remained formidable throughout the season. I’m taking the under betting total here.
Prediction: Under (43.5)
Written By Jordy McElroy , “Sporty Jordy”
Born in Germany and raised in the beautiful state of Tennessee, Jordy McElroy is a storyteller of sports, a sports betting enthusiast and a semi-deep thinker. Being a New England Patriots fan means he’s a six-time Super Bowl winner as well, which means you’d have to be a fool to ignore his advice. Prior to joining our team here at Winners & Whiners, Jordy’s work appeared on CNN.com, FOX Sports, Bleacher Report, USA TODAY and BJPenn.com. There are no beaches where he comes from — just rolling hills, green valleys and all the Sun Drop you can drink.