Jaguars may need the passing game to step up against the Colts

Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles has averaged 28 passes per game over the last three weeks. Against the Indianapolis Colts, Jaguars offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett will probably have to add to the quarterback's workload.

The Colts are a middle-of-the-pack run defense, allowing 114.2 rushing yards per game (ranked 19th in the league) and 4.1 yards per carry (18th). However, their passing defense leaves quite a bit to be desired.

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The Colts have allowed 295.8 passing yards per game, which is the third-worst output in the league. The Indianapolis defense has also given up 8.5 yards per pass attempt (31st in NFL) and 34 passing plays of 20 or more yards (32nd). 

While Bortles has struggled since the Week 4 loss to the New York Jets, this may be the game that opens up his production.

Bortles is completing just 57.1-percent of his passes, but a matchup against the Colts could be exactly what he needs. The Colts will certainly focus on stopping the running game - like everyone else - but given the matchup, the Jaguars should be willing to pass relatively often.

The Colts have a talented group up-front in nose tackle Al Woods, defensive tackle Jonathan Hankins and defensive end Henry Anderson. The team's linebackers have also played well, as John Simon and Jon Bostic have shined throughout the first six games.

If that front seven can tame rookie running back Leonard Fournette, Bortles will be dared to throw. While safety Malik Hooker has been able to produce interceptions and Vontae Davis is among the best cornerbacks in the league, the secondary has given up a lot of big plays.

If Hackett can come up with some yards-after-the-catch opportunities, the Jaguars could use the intermediate passing game to get upfield. Bortles will then be counted on to hit his wide receivers in stride, something he has struggled with over the last few games.

Bortles' typical style of play brings plenty of risk in chasing the on-paper rewards that the Colts' defense presents. If Fournette can't get going (editor's note: big if), the Jaguars will be forced to use Bortles to win the game.

Bortles will need to be accurate against the Colts if the Jaguars do decide to test the defense through the air. Hooker and cornerback Rashaan Melvin have combined for five interceptions this season.

The Los Angeles Rams gave Bortles and the Jaguars every opportunity to pass the ball in Week 6 and Jacksonville failed to take advantage. Against Indianapolis, they may have no choice but to deliver in the passing game.

Follow Mike Kaye on Twitter at @Mike_E_Kaye.

Listen to "Teal & Black Blitz w/ Mike Kaye and Mike DiRocco (Podcast) 10-16" on Spreaker.

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