Week 3 preview: Colts @ Eagles

After two weeks of play, I still don’t know what to make of this Indianapolis Colts team. I really want to believe they have something special brewing. With what seems to be a gem in Darius Leonard (2018 second round pick) and the excitement of Andrew Luck and his new receiving core being on the same page so quickly, one could be led to believe that the Colts might not be so bad. Then…I start looking into the schedule, and the stats. Over then next four weeks Indianapolis travels to Philadelphia to play the Eagles with Carson Wentz returning, comes home to a divisional opponent in the Texans, goes into Gillette Stadium on a short week to play the Patriots, and finally, takes a ride up to the Meadowlands to face off against the current number one defense of the New York Jets. Thank goodness they get a break against the hapless Buffalo Bills in week 7; However, that may not even be a walk in the park, because the Colts have lost 3 of the last 4 matchups against Buffalo (last won in 2012). After all of that, they get Oakland in the black hole for their 5th road game in 8 weeks. This could get pretty rough, but the only way to get through it is to take the boring, obvious mantra (one play at a time).

For the Colts to get to the bye, they first have to get through the Philadelphia Eagles. It’s not going to be easy (they may not even do it) , but if they have just enough “Luck”, they might get it done. Here are a few keys to this weeks’ matchup:

  1. Andrew Luck has to be the 40 passing touchdowns version of himself, and not the 18 interceptions rookie year version. As consistent as Luck is passing (71.4%), he isn’t getting the scoring production he needs. He is tied for 11th in passing touchdowns (4), but is tied for second highest amount of interceptions (3). Indianapolis can’t afford to have Luck play at a mediocre level. For as much as they spent on him, and for the amount of time they waited for him to return, he has to be better.
  2. They need to have better offensive consistency. Three scoring drives might not be enough to get past most teams. Luckily, last week was an exception. The three 75 yard touchdown drives we saw were great last weekend, but the rest of the game wasn’t so hot. Every Indianapolis non-scoring drive in week 2 was a disaster. Let’s read in between the scores:

1st half: 3 plays 4 yards (punt), 7 plays 58 yards (interception), 3 plays 8 yards (punt), 3 plays 6 yards (punt), 1 play -1 yards (kneel/end of half)

2nd half: 3 plays 0 yards (interception), 3 plays 5 yards (punt), 4 plays 22 yards (punt), 1 -1 yards (kneel/ end of game)

Five, 3 and outs are nothing to be proud of. The way I see it, the Colts failed to score at least a field goal on 70% of their offensive possessions last week (throwing out kneel scenarios). With an offensive minded coach (Reich) and a star quarterback (Luck), they should be clicking more often than 30%. If that lack of production bleeds into week 3, the Eagles will walk all over them.

3. The defense we saw in week 2 needs to be their every game. Every level of defense was involved. The front 4 were plugging the holes, the run game was held in check, and they forced the quarterback to try and make plays. They played inspired, they played hungry, they were excited, and they were well prepared. Those are words we haven’t heard relating to the Colts defense since maybe the 2006 Super Bowl run.

This week with the Eagles offense, the Colts have a giant test. Carson Wentz is back, the crowd in Philadelphia is always horrible (remember they booed Santa Claus), and Wentz has weapons. These weapons include second year receiver Nelson Agholor and veteran tight end Zach Ertz (each have 16 receptions in just two games). They also include an effective group of running backs (Ajayi, Clement, and Smallwood) who can kill with 4 and 5 yard bursts, or catch linebackers off guard in the passing game. On the other side of the ball, the Colts offense has to find ways to move the sticks against this Eagles defense. There are tons of household names on their defense. They have a great starting lineup and solid depth. Names like Haloti Ngata, Brandon Graham, and Fletcher Cox will have the offensive line busy. While names like Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby will try to frustrate the Colts thin receiving core. For the second week in a row, I’m picking against Indianapolis. I predict that the familiarity of Frank Reich’s offense, the spark the Eagles will have with Wentz returning, and the amount of playmakers on the Philly defense, will just be too much for this Indy team to handle. The Colts do have one thing going for them though..I’m 0-2 with my predictions this year.

My prediction: Colts 16 Eagles 31

Photo Credit- Brian Spurlock-USA Today Sports

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