3 keys to victory for the Colts against the Jaguars in Week 1

With the NFL regular season starting this week, it's time to take a look at how the Indianapolis Colts can secure a victory on opening weekend.
Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Alec Pierce catches game-winning touchdown vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (2022)
Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Alec Pierce catches game-winning touchdown vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (2022) / Andy Lyons/GettyImages
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2. Force at least two turnovers

Keeping the Jaguars' offense off the field is the key to starting off the season with a win. Turnovers will play a huge part in making this happen, especially with the healthy return of star linebacker Shaquille Leonard.

Leonard's presence on the field was truly missed last year as the Colts put up their lowest amount of turnovers forced since 2017 (before Leonard was drafted) with only 21 on the year. Shaq has 17 forced fumbles (FF) and 12 interceptions (INT) since his debut in 2018. The three time First-Team All-Pro linebacker is expected to play in the season opener after dealing with a stretch of injuries that kept him sidelined for a majority of the 2022 season.

Unfortunately for the Colts, Trevor Lawrence has yet to throw an interception against Indianapolis in his career. Colts' defensive coordinator Gus Bradley called this game a "good test" for his defense, especially for cornerbacks Darrell Baker Jr. and Dallis Flowers. The two have caught zero regular season interceptions in their short careers, but the home opener is an opportunity to gain valuable minutes against a proven quarterback.

"We're going to play Jacksonville with the idea of [playing] fast and physical. Then we got to get the ball out. We got to get takeaways."

Colts DC Gus Bradley

On the line of scrimmage, defensive tackles DeForest Buckner and Grover Stewart will need to stifle former Clemson star Travis Etienne Jr. who rushed for over 1,000 yards in his first NFL season. Disrupting the Jaguars' offensive line will be key in forcing Jacksonville to make simple mistakes that the Colts can capitalize on.

Etienne fumbled five times last season, demonstrating his ability to limit turnovers despite playing in every game. Forcing a fumble in the season opener would set the tone early for this young defense, and takeaways could propel the Colts to their first season opening win since 2013.