Greetings friends from the desert! I am stopping by to answer your Colts questions and chat about the upcoming game. I think this matchup has the potential to be one of the sleeper great games of the weekend. Without further ado, here is your Colts tutorial...
Lost amidst the 2-1 record and transcendent play by Andrew Luck, is that the offense is really struggling due to injuries. Losing Reggie Wayne has been absolutely crippling as it has forced TY Hilton into the #1 spot with only Heyward-Bey and Griff Whalen the other WR options. Hilton is not a #1 and Bey... well he still sucks. Whalen is a practice squad guy and is very limited. Coby Fleener has been playing better, but Dwayne Allen (also lost for the season) had clearly surpassed him as the top TE.
The running game that actually looked promising to start the season has also fallen on hard times. Ahmad Bradshaw and Vick Ballard were the top two options at RB... both gone. The interior OL was weak anyway, but suffered a blow with the loss of guard Donald Thomas early in the year. Way too easy for pressure to come right between center and RG. The tackles are solid, but not world beaters.
Someone is going to ask about Trent Richardson... it's time to start calling this what it is... a flop. He hasn't gotten much blocking and has looked strong in spurts, but the facts are the facts at this point. He is not a game changing player. He is clearly behind Donald Brown at this point. The same Donald Brown that many Colts fans were ready to run out of town this offseason. That said, Brown's play has been solid of late and given us at least some semblance of a running game.
Really hit and miss. Pass rush begins and ends with Robert Mathis as there really isn't anyone else to be feared in that front 7. That said, Mathis is playing at an All-Pro level and will wreak havok on opposing QBs. The defensive backs are the strength of the team, but are prone to lapses at times. They play a lot of man coverage, so if they get beat... they get beat big. Vonte Davis is a near pro-bowler, Bethea is always a top level safety, Laron Landry is very good (when healthy), and Greg Toler is a solid #2 (though frequently hurt.) If he can't go Cassius Vaughn will man that spot and should be easy pickings for whomever he is matched up on.
The run D hasn't been any good since about 1996... They continue to struggle. Jerrell Freeman is our best ILB and is an adequate stopper. Pat Angerer beside him is really too small to play the position and is much better suited to a 4-3. The DL is full of journeyman NFL players. All are adequate and will periodically have a good game, but the sum total of which provides enough weak spots to find running room.
The Cards don't really offer a ton in the running game, which alleviates at least some of the concern for our defense. The hope for the Colts is that Mathis can get to Palmer faster than your WRs can break free from our man coverage. That's playing with fire, but might break our way.
The Cards D seemingly matches up quite well with the Colts. Calais Campbell may have a career day coming right up the middle at Andrew Luck. Luck is a special player and is not to be counted out... but he is left wanting for playmakers on the rest of the offense. It's possible that he puts the team on his back and wins it by himself, but that is the only way it happens.
This is a game that I think a lot of Colts fans expected to win at the beginning of the season. The last Vegas odds I saw had Cards -2. If I were a betting man... time to check emotions at the door, and give the points.
Cards 27 Colts 24.