The Indianapolis Colts travel out west this week to face the San Francisco 49ers. The Colts (1-1) and 49ers (1-1) are both looking to rebound from bad losses in week two.
It has been a busy week for the Colts. After putting their third offensive starter on IR, the Colts traded with Cleveland for running back Trent Richardson. The move shows the team’s commitment to the concept of a power running team, a philosophy I disagree with when you have a quarterback like Andrew Luck. I’m ready to get to the point where Luck is good enough to make the play calls himself (Peyton style).
The Colts have caught the 49ers at the worst possible time: coming off a big loss to your rival. And not just any rival, the one you have spent the entire off season smack talking with. The 49ers are going to take their frustration out on the Colts, and in all likelihood, it won’t be pretty.
Here’s what to watch for:
- The Premiere. Richardson will make his debut as a Colt on Sunday. But how much he plays is the big question. He’s only had two practices in Indianapolis, not nearly enough time to learn the playbook. Its likely that Ahmad Bradshaw starts (and plays on third downs) and Richardson is used sparingly, getting maybe 40-percent of the carries (unless he starts tearing apart the 9ers). While I still dislike the trade on a philosophical level, I like Richardson as a player and believe that he’ll find success in a Colts uniform.
- The Bounce Back. Last week, Luck had a very bad game. He was inaccurate indecisive, and hesitant. He has also developed a habit of holding the ball for too long. We don’t want Luck to turn in the Ben Roethlisberger. Sacks can be just as much on QBs as blockers, and Luck was responsible for a couple last week. He has to make better reads and find the open man faster, or just throw the ball away. He has to be sharp if the Colts are going to have any hope of winning on Sunday.
- The Blowout. This game is not a very good matchup for the Colts. The Colts struggled to corral Terrelle Pryor, and Colin Kaepernick is a whole different beast. And Kaepernick isn’t the only threat the Colts will have to contend with. They’ll also have to account for running back Frank Gore, tight end Vernon Davis, and wide receiver Anquan Boldin. Compound that with the fact that the 49ers are 7-0 after losses under Jim Harbaugh and its not looking good for Indy.
- The Defense. The Colts really don’t have a very good defense. They don’t have the personnel to run a 3-4 defense properly. Couple that with the fact that ILB Pat Angerer and S LaRon Landry won’t play Sunday, and its a recipe for disaster. Even if the 49ers don’t use trick plays, the Colts still won’t be able to generate pressure on Kaepernick. The Colts will have to force multiple turnovers to win this game. If they can do that, and get a few three-and-outs, then Indy will have a chance to escape with a victory.
- Anquan Boldin. First off, why in the hell did the Ravens trade Boldin away? After the things he did in the postseason and how many third downs he converted? Was Joe Flacco’s cartoonish contract really worth missing out on another championship run? But I digress. The Colts won’t be able to cover Boldin. In the playoffs, Boldin had five receptions for 145 yards and a touchdown. Simply put, he lit the Colts up. Sunday will be no exception as neither Greg Toler nor Vontae Davis has the tools to corral Boldin.
- Aldon Smith. Will he play? Right now it looks like he will in fact be on the field. Second question, why is he play? Its been just three days since Smith crashed his car while driving drunk with marijuana in his possession. The league will likely suspend Smith at some point in the near future, but will it be before Sunday’s game or not? Smith is no stranger to off the field issues, and its possible that the NFL will come down on him hard. If he does play on Sunday, its bad news for the Colts as he has 37.5 sacks in 34 games.
- Brotherly Love. 49ers tight end Vernon Davis and Colts cornerback Vontae Davis are brothers. Vontae is the younger, and its likely that at some point in the game that little bro will have to take down Vernon. It will be entertaining to see who will come out on top (I have all the money on Vernon).
This is not going to be an easy game. There is a reason that the 49ers are a favorite to go to the Super Bowl. The Colts might make the playoffs, but that is the ceiling for this team. Beating the 49ers on the road would be a huge win for a team that has so far struggled this season.
That said, the 49ers still win, 35-14.
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