Week Seven: Washington Redskins at Indianapolis Colts
Location: Indianapolis, IN RCA Dome
Kick-off time: 4:15 pm EST
I seems like a hundred years ago that I wrote a game preview. Turns out it was only three weeks ago, but man it sure feels like a long time ago.
The Colts are coming off their bye week, which was anything but the standard norm for bye weeks. During the time off, they made a major trade DT Anthony McFarland to bolster a run defense ranked 32nd in the league. It's amazing how the Colts run defense actually got worse during the own bye week, when they didn't even play. Oh well.
This week, they match up with the Washington Redskins. It's just the Colts' luck that they get a Washington team that is in "must win" mode. The Redskins are 2-4, and if they lose to the Colts their season is over. They will not make the playoffs in the NFC East if they have to crawl up from 2-5. Traditionally under Dungy, the Colts have won coming off their bye week. This game will feature a team built to run the ball (the Redskins) against a team that can't stop the run with any consistency (the Colts).
However, I feel this game will be much different than what people think. Here are the keys:
Defense. The Colts' defense has yet to show up this year. Injuries have played a part, as has unfamiliarity with new players, or old players in new positions. The bye week is supposed to have corrected that. Or, if I may be blunt, it BETTER have been corrected. Bob Sanders will sit out again this week as a precaution. Mike Doss, who has played well, gets the start at SS. I said some time ago that the Colts defense was never going to regain its 2005 form without Corey Simon. Colts management saw this as well and made the trade for Anthony "Booger" McFarland. McFarland does everything that Simon does, and maybe a bit better. I'm not sure if Booger will start or not, but he will see 30-40 snaps. So far, he has practiced well, picking up the scheme and the defensive packages with no problems. Combine this addition with some honing on the defense, and we fans might just see something from the Colts defense.
We'd better, because if the defense can't stop Clinton Portis, it will be a long day.
- Get the lead early. Washington likes to run the ball; grind it out, grind it out and keep it close until the end. To knock them off their game plan, the Colts must get an early lead and force Washington to throw. Mark Brunell is not a consistent QB. If you force him into obvious passing situations, he does not perform well. Interesting fact: Mark Brunell has never beaten the Colts. Never. The teams he played on in Jacksonville never won a game over Indy.
I'm back, bitches!
- Kicking. One good way of getting the lead is winning the field position battle early. Adam Vinatieri returns this week after sitting for 4 weeks nursing injuries. His kickoffs will help this team pin the Redskins in poor field position. If the Colts win the turf war, they can start their offense in solid field position and score early. Washington's defense is missing several starters from their secondary. They might drop into coverage and dare the Colts to run.
This is one of the "test" games for the Colts. This game means everything to Washington. While it means a great deal to Indy, they clearly do not have the same desperation to win Washington does... or do they? The Colts are very good at treating every game as important. They don't treat teams like Houston lightly, nor do they allow emotion to crush them when they play teams like Jacksonville or New England.
Washington wants to run, and the Colts want to show they can play defense. Dungy labeled them "soft" after the Titans win, and with the addition of McFarland I think this defense has a bit of a chip on their shoulder. They want to show they can play.