The Indianapolis Colts will host one of the best teams in the NFL Sunday when the Seattle Seahawks come to town. The Colts (3-1) have a rough month ahead and it all starts with the undefeated Seahawks.
This game will see Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson face off for the first time. Despite losing the Rookie of the Year award to Robert Griffin III, the two QBs have set themselves apart from all the others in the class of 2012.
Wilson’s team has had more success, after winning a playoff game against Washington last season and nearly defeating the Atlanta Falcons. To many, that means that Wilson is the better quarterback. To those who pay attention, it means that last season he had the better team.
Here’s what we’ll be watching:
- Beastmode. The Colts have to find a way to stop Marshawn Lynch. While this team has a solid defense, they struggled to contain his NFC West counterpart Frank Gore and are suspect against the run. Lynch is averaging four yards per carry and is someone you simply have to gameplan for. Advanced stats say that he is having a down year, and has really only had one very good game (vs Houston) all season. Falling to sleep on Lynch is a sure fire way to get him to rip of a big gain. The Colts have to be disciplined with gap control as the Seahawks will use the option occasionally.
- The Best. By all advanced metrics, and some conventional ones, Seattle has the best defense in the NFL. The Seahawks are holding opponents to under 12 points per game (but somehow gave up 17 to Jacksonville). Their defense is led by corners Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner, both of whom are large, physical, and can play lockdown defense. Seattle can consistently rush four linemen because its corners are so adept, if they want to blitz man-to-man is no problem either. The Colts will want to attack the Seahawks the same way they attacked the 49ers: spread the field and utilize a lot of quick, decisive throws.
- 100. Robert Mathis can get his 100th sack on Sunday. Only Dwight Freeney has more sacks in a Colts uniform. Mathis has been an elite defensive end for years, and had done a great job transferring to outside linebacker. Mathis will likely go down as the best pass rusher in Colts history, he needs just 8.5 sacks to surpass Freeney’s franchise record. The way he’s been playing, it could very well happen this season.
- 1,000. Reggie Wayne needs 10 more catches to reach 1,000 for his career. He hasn’t had a game with more than eight receptions this season, but the Seahawks struggle against teams top receivers. Wayne is a crafty veteran who has a knack for getting open. Its unlikely that he’ll get his 1,000th catch this week, but Wayne always shows up for the big games.
- Find the Offense. Pep Hamilton looks like a genius at times. And then he confuses the hell out of me. The Colts will have a good looking drive that spreads the field, mixes up the play calling, and suits the strengths of the players on the field. The next drive will be fullback heavy, with one WR, and two tight ends. Those drives flame out awfully fast. Hamilton is still trying to figure out the NFL, and a lot of what you can get away with in college doesn’t fly in the pros.
- Injuries. The list of players missing games continues to grow for the Colts. RB Ahmad Bradshaw will be out, and were not sure for how long. He’s seen multiple doctors and might need surgery on his neck. S LaRon Landry will miss Sunday’s game as well with a high ankle sprain. DE Ricky Jean Francois is out with a groin injury, FB Stanley Havili is out with an ankle sprain, OLB Bjoern Werner will be out for 4-6 weeks with a foot sprain. CB Vontae Davis, S Delano Howell, and LG Hugh Thornton are all probable. Any more injuries and the Colts will start holding open tryouts to fill the roster.
- The Narrative. From last years crop of young quarterbacks, Luck and Wilson have risen to the top over RGIII and Colin Kaepernick. Many want to anoint one of them as the best new QB in the league, because we have to rank everyone. That means that whoever wins tomorrows game will likely be the better QB, because we all know that QBs only play against each other. Despite football being a team sport, many pundit like to use win-loss records as a quarterback statistic. Both QBs will have fantastic careers and tomorrow won’t actually tell us much about who is better, but rather which team is better.
This is a tough game to call. Both teams have played very well over the past few weeks. Seattle had a very impressive comeback win over Houston last week, while the Colts dominated the Jaguars.
A win would set the Colts up for a good October and put them firmly in the drivers seat in the AFC South. The Colts will be on the road next week to face a resurgent San Diego. Following that is the showdown of the century with the Peyton Manning’s returning to Indianapolis.
Seattle is an extremely tough opponent, I’m not sure the Colts can pull off the win.
Seattle wins 24-21.
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