Nov 14, 2021; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. (10) catches the ball while Indianapolis Colts cornerback Kenny Moore II (23) defends  in the second half at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

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Snapping Jacksonville jinx gets Colts into postseason

On paper, the Indianapolis Colts should be a lock for a Week 18 win and a spot in the AFC playoffs.

After all, Indianapolis (9-7) gets to finish the season at the Jacksonville Jaguars (2-14), who have lost eight straight games and will be on the clock for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft with one more loss.

But the Colts have just one number on their minds, and it’s not the 15 1/2 points the Vegas sharps have them favored by.

It’s six — their current losing streak when playing at TIAA Bank Field.

“We don’t play good down there. So, we better find a way, or we’re going to be out,” said wide receiver T.Y. Hilton.

That includes a season-opening defeat to Jacksonville last year, which turned out to be the only game the Jaguars won in 2020. Firing Doug Marrone and replacing him with Urban Meyer led to a much-ballyhooed change in culture that lasted 13 games, long enough for Meyer to become the latest college coach to ignominiously flop when asked to win in the pros.

But through mostly thin times with occasional thick mixed in, like a surprising 2017 trip to the AFC Championship Game, Jacksonville has had Indianapolis’ number at home.

“It’s the elephant in the room; we address it and we prepare,” Colts safety Khari Willis said. “It’s not something we go around talking about all day in our meetings or anything like that, but it’s something we acknowledge.”

This might not be such a big deal if the Colts had taken care of business last week. But they couldn’t hang on to a fourth-quarter lead and suffered a 23-20 home loss to the Las Vegas Raiders on a last-play field goal.

While Indianapolis aims to assure itself of a Week 19, the Jaguars have nothing to lose except their 15th game.

The club is already planning for 2022, reportedly meeting with head coach candidates Doug Pederson, Jim Caldwell and Todd Bowles. All three have NFL coaching experience and Pederson guided the Eagles to their only Super Bowl victory four years ago.

Whoever gets the job has some pieces in place, like No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence from last year’s draft. But it’s been a rough rookie year for Lawrence as he’s tossed seven more interceptions (17) than touchdowns (10).

Last week’s 50-10 loss at New England was another 3-hour dose of initiation rites for Lawrence. While he threw his first touchdown pass since Nov. 28, he was also intercepted three times for his fifth multi-pick game of the year.

“I really do feel I’ve been through more than a lot of people can say they’ve been through in their first season,” Lawrence said. “Obviously, you don’t want to go through what we’ve gone through again this year. I know there’s some really good days ahead.”

Lawrence had a chance to lead a game-winning drive on Nov. 14 when the teams played in Indianapolis, but he was strip-sacked at the Colts’ 45 with 50 seconds left to seal a 23-17 loss.

This will be the 42nd meeting between the teams. Indianapolis boasts a 26-15 series lead.

–Field Level Media

Field Level Media
Sport Writer & Editor
FLM has a North American focus while tying into regional and hyper-local resources – providing the ability to distribute compelling content through the writing of professional journalists. As the U.S. sports content provider to dozens of digital and print media publishers through strategic partnerships with the likes of Reuters and Nielsen Sports, FLM covers the nuts and bolts with a breaking news desk and game event coverage.

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