While the Jaguars are solid road favorites in this opener, this game is likely going to come down to a handful of matchups on both sides of the ball. As rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson makes his first official start, there will be a number of matchups to keep an eye on.
Here are the key matchups to watch in Week 1 between the Colts and Jaguars:
Jaguars DE Josh Allen vs Colts OTs
Allen will be taking the majority of his snaps on the right side across from Braden Smith, but the Jaguars move him around the formation so he’ll likely see time against left tackle Bernhard Raimann as well. Allen has been a consistent force since being draft and continues to get better. He posted a career-high 68 pressures and 18 quarterback hits, according to PFF. Smith and Raimann will need to be at the top of their game to keep the rookie quarterback clean.
Colts WR Michael Pittman Jr. vs Jaguars CB Tyson Campbell
If Richardson is going to find any success in the opener through the air, Pittman Jr. will have to be the one that steps up. It won’t be an easy task, though, going against the third-year cornerback in Campbell. In 2022, Campbell allowed a 58.5% catch rate and an 80.0 passer rating against on 82 targets, according to PFF. Pittman Jr. has been a solid leader in the wide receiver room over the last two seasons, and he’ll need to step up in Week 1.
Colts DE Kwity Paye vs. Jagaurs RT Anton Harrison
The third-year defensive end enters a big season looking to break out, and he has the chance to get off on the right foot going against the rookie in Harrison. A highly-touted prospect, Harrison was the No. 28 overall pick in the 2023 NFL draft out of Oklahoma. If Paye can take advantage of Harrison’s inexperience, the Colts can get pressure. If he fails to do so, the Jaguars will have a much easier time moving the ball.
Colts CB Kenny Moore II vs Jaguars WR Christian Kirk
The battle in the slot will be a fun matchup to watch Sunday. Kirk is coming off the best season of his career as the leader in the Jaguars passing attack. That role is expected to go to Calvin Ridley now, but Kirk will still be involved. Moore is looking to bounce back after a down year and seems to have found his groove as the leader in the secondary.
Jaguars WR Calvin Ridley vs. Colts boundary CBs
While the Colts saw some promising things from boundary cornerbacks Dallis Flowers and Darrell Baker Jr. throughout training camp and the preseason, the pair of second-year undrafted free agents have just one career start combined between the two of them. Even after a year off due to a gambling suspension, Ridley is an elite route runner and could be a major impact player in this game.