After going 2-0 away from Lucas Oil Stadium, the Colts return home Sunday to take on the 4-0 Seattle Seahawks, a team many (including myself) have representing the NFC in the Super Bowl. You want to see if the Colts realistically have a chance at the Super Bowl? Sunday will give us a really good idea.
The Colts and Seahawks have had two common opponents already this year, with pretty similar outcomes, as both teams beat up on the 49ers (surprising) and Jaguars (all the rage now). The only difference? The Seahawks did it at home, while the Colts went on the road. The Seahawks have also been a spectacular home team, while we've seen them struggle on the road. They survived in Carolina in Week 1, and came from 20-3 down last week to beat the Texans in Overtime 23-20. If you want a chance to beat Seattle, it's best you don't play them at home.
The two quarterbacks, Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson, will be linked for the rest of their careers, along with Robert Griffin, thanks to their spectacular rookie seasons last year, so games like this will be brought up over and over through the years. Wilson and Griffin will play each other much more frequently, as they play in the same conference, so the "sense of urgency" is there for Luck to play well against his Class of 2012 draftmate. Of course we won't be able to fully compare these guys for another six or seven years, but it won't stop people from doing it anyway.
Since the Seahawks are fairly new to the NFC, the two teams have a decent history against one another, with the Colts holding a 6-4 record against them, but they've only played twice since 2000. Back in 2005 they played on Christmas Eve, just days after Tony Dungy's son died, and the Colts really didn't show up in Seattle, losing 28-13. They played again in 2009 in Indianapolis, and Edgerrin James made his return while playing with the Seahawks. Peyton Manning owned the Seahawks that day, winning 34-17. This will also be just the 4th time these two teams have played in Indy.
So how do these two teams match-up against each other? Let's see the numbers and find out:
Statistical Comparison between the Colts and Seahawks:
|Orange Zone Eff||53.6%||19||57.1%||22||49.7%||21||48.8%||11|
|Avg Start Pos||26.6||24||24.2||7||37.2||3||25.3||9|
|3 and Outs||1.39||2||2.14||28||2.70||10||2.74||27|
|Penalty Yds / Play||0.498||3||0.609||28||0.986||26||1.240||1|
Keys to the Game:
- The Colts Defense has played really well the last two weeks, but the respective ranks of those two units are in the bottom three of the league, so this is a giant step up playing the 6th ranked team. I hope they are up for the challenge.
- The Seahawks have been prone to turnovers, turning it over six times already this season, and they've come against teams that haven't really forced many turnovers outside of against the Seahawks, so they haven't taken good care of the football. The Colts absolutely need a turnover or two, something they've done really well so far this season.
- Seattle is also pretty good moving the ball consistently, ranking in the top 10 in most of the drive stats. The Colts can't let them go on 10 play drives, or else it's going to be a long day.
- The Colts haven't been good against the run this season, and Marshawn Lynch can turn into "Beast mode" at any time. Falling behind, and letting the Seahawks control the line of scrimmage will be a very bad sign.
- One of the big things the Colts have done really well the last two weeks was pin their opponent deep in their own territory to start drives. Seattle has had excellent starting field position so far this season, so this will be something to watch.
- When the Colts have the ball, they have to continue to not turn the ball over against the #1 team in the NFL in Turnovers. The Seattle secondary is nicknamed the "Legion of Boom", and for good reason: it's the best in the NFL. It killed the Texans last week, and will kill the Colts this week if they turn the ball over. Richard Sherman is the only current NFL player from Stanford that isn't on the Colts roster. Think Seattle would want to let him go?
- I'm not concerned about the Colts moving the ball down the field, but I'm very concerned about their ability to finish the drives with points. It's the one area where the Colts have struggled this season, and an area the Seahawks have been pretty good in. If we see lots of field goals, it won't be a good sign.
- The Colts need to do well enough in the run game to ensure the play-action plays get the linebackers to bite. The Seahawks have been susceptible to plays over the middle of the field, and play-action is how that works.
Over the past year-plus the Seahawks have been nearly invincible at home, and merely a really good team away from the Pacific Northwest, so this game certainly is winnable for the Colts. In fact, if they play as well as they have the past two weeks, they will win. The difference is they are taking a big step up in terms of talent, and I'm not quite sure they are ready to play at this level yet. Yes the Colts beat up on the 49ers, but I think they had several issues that really helped the Colts out that day.
The Colts will keep this close, but Seattle will find a way to win with a late touchdown drive. I hope I'm wrong, and if I am, this Colts team can really be considered a Super Bowl contender. I think it's a bit early for that just yet.
Seattle 27, Colts 23