This year, I'm guessing Mercury Morris is happy with the Colts, who took out the lone undefeated team left in the NFL last week, when they defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 19-9 last Sunday afternoon. This was in stark contrast to last year, when Morris started rooting for every Colt opponent, then cheered Jim Caldwell and Bill Polian. Thankfully, we won't have to hear about Morris this season, as it is way too early for them to be relevant this season.
This Sunday Night, the Colts travel to the Nation's Capital to take on the Redskins, a place they haven't visited since 2002 (Well, I guess they have been to D.C, to meet with the President). In that game, the Colts fell into a 20-0 hole right away, had a furious comeback in the 4th quarter, and fell short 26-21. I'd be mighty impressed if you could name the Redskins starting QB that day without looking it up. The teams also met in the RCA Dome in 2006, with the Colts dominating the Redskins 36-22. Peyton Manning lit up the Redskins secondary to the tune of 342 yards and 4 TDs.
The 2010 edition of the Redskins is 3-2, including 2 consecutive wins over the Eagles and Packers. However, they haven't been scoring a whole lot of points, going over 17 just once (Texans), which will usually pose problems when going up against the Colts offense. Follow me after the jump to see how the Redskins match-up with the Colts, and what I see as the keys to the game:
Statistical Match-up between the Colts and Redskins (Adjusted Stats):
|Avg Start Pos||28.4||26||28.6||9||26.9||30||31.7||20|
|3 and Outs||1.73||4||4.65||9||3.78||13||4.71||7|
|Penalty Yds / Play||0.529||3||0.772||21||0.906||21||0.900||13|
|Net Punts Yds/Game||40.62||13||43.65||30||34.61||27||39.10||18|
- I want to start at a high level first. From these stats it looks like the Redskins Defense is outplaying their Offense, which makes sense. Each game they've won they've played well defensively, while their offense has struggled. However, if you looked at the non-adjusted stats, they tell the complete opposite story: The Offense is ranked 17th, and the Defense 27th. I just wanted to give you another example why it is vital to adjust for opponents whenever you look at stats, and want to use them in an argument.
- We'll start with when the Colts have the ball. Last week, the Chiefs were outstanding at the Drive-Related stats, yet the Colts destroyed them in those stats anyway. This week, the Redskins aren't good at all in the Drive-Related stats, other than at forcing Three and Outs. If the Colts can get that initial First Down on a drive, look for them to move the ball up and down the field. The Redskins will have to get them off the field quickly to have a chance in this game.
- Also, look for the Colts running game to (finally) look on the stats sheet like what we've been seeing with our eyes. The Redskins are dead last in RB Success Rate, while the Colts are actually quite good in that area. The Colts won't run long distances when they run, but they are more effective than 3/4 of the league when they do. Whoever is healthy (Joseph Addai, Donald Brown, or Mike Hart) should have a nice night.
- On the flip side, it looks like the Redskins have struggled grinding out drives (low in Drive Success Rate, Time of Possession / Drive, Plays / Drive), but have been successful with getting big plays (Yards / Play 8th best in league). A quick sanity check shows 4 different receivers have receptions over 50 yards, so without looking at every play, I'm pretty confident saying that. What does this mean? Classic Tampa 2 defense from the Colts this week. Force them to grind it out. Make Donovan McNabb check down.
- With the use of the Tampa 2, they become more susceptible to the "Bend but don't break" defense, meaning the Red Zone will play a big part in the game Sunday Night. The Colts defense is ranked 3rd, the Redskins Offense is ranked 30th. I like that match-up.
Some other keys:
- Old Colts nemesis Albert Haynesworth should be returning to the lineup this week, after missing last week's game against the Packers, dealing with the death of his younger brother. That should add some extra motivation for him, which is a scary thought. He's the best in the league when motivated.
- The health of the Colts RBs. I mentioned it above, that whoever is back there should have a good night. However, the Colts need at least 2 of them to be healthy. Brown has missed the last 2 weeks, and did not practice again Wednesday, while Addai was limited on Wednesday. Joe is one tough S.O.B., and I pretty sure he'll be out there on Sunday.
- Neutralizing LaRon Landry. The folks at Hogs Haven think he's an early candidate for Defensive Player of the Year. I haven't watched the Redskins play yet this year, but we all know how a dominant Safety can change the complexion of the game. This will be on the Colts OL / RB to pick him up blitzing, and most likely Brody Eldridge in the running game. If we don't hear his name, chances are the Colts are playing well.
- This will be the Colts 4th road game of the season, and the Redskins 4th Home game. The Colts defense has struggled away from Lucas Oil Stadium this season, so this is the game to get back on track on the road. The Colts have their bye week next week, meaning they don't have to leave anything in the tank Sunday night.
The Redskins may be 3-2, but I don't see anything that makes me think the Colts won't handle them with ease. Manning should be able to move the ball, much like last week, and he should be able to get some help from the RBs. The Defense will be playing their bread-and-butter Tampa 2 for most of the game, exploiting the weakness of the Redskin Offense. While it is the NFL, and anything can happen, the Colts should head into the Bye with a comfortable victory.
Colts 31, Redskins 14