Yes folks, this pre-season match-up has about the same importance and intensity as the Colts/Seahawks contest last year during the regular season. If you recall, when both teams met last season they had already locked up first place, and were just trying to get to the playoffs without getting anyone hurt. The Hawks coaching staff seemed more pre-occupied with getting Shaun Alexander his TDs than actually winning the game. The Colts did not have Dungy on their sidelines, as his son James had recently passed away.
Now, it's a new year, and both these teams are the front-runners in their conferences to get to the Super Bowl, and for good reason. They are both balanced, with depth at all key positions. I give the Colts a slight edge on paper because:
- I'm a homer, and
- The Colts have a better QB, o-line, receiving corps, kicking game, and defense than the Hawks.
Here is what I'm looking for:
- Marlin, baby, you're killing me! Marlin Jackson has been awful since he was torched at St. Louis last week. He has not performed in practice. In fact, he's been so bad the Indianapolis Star has taken note of it, and it usually takes them a good month before they see the obvious. Marlin has to show something tonight, or he will not start this year.
- Dylan Gandy will start tonight in place of Ryan Lilja, who is still hurt. Gandy, and the starting offense, will see 18-20 plays tonight. This means we'll see him with Manning, Saturday, and company for all of the first and some of the second quarter. I'm interested to see how Gandy holds up against the blitz.
- Gilbert Gardner: another game, another opportunity to show me something. I think he played fine against the Rams. Let's see how he does tackling the MVP, Shaun Alexander.
- Dwight Freeney plays tonight. We'll see if his arm is healthy.
- We might see some of Bob "The Hitman" Sanders, but I am really interested in watching rookie Antoine Bethea. Mike Doss is hurt (again!). If Bethea plays well in this game, we might see him start in the Meadowlands and NOT Mike Doss.
- TJ Rushing is out with a leg injury. Therefore, we'll see rookie Ashlan Davis and Terrence Wilkins returning kicks and punts tonight.
- The kicking game. Both Vinatieri and Hunter Smith are not playing. The Colts had to scramble to find replacement kickers just so they could have them on hand for the friggin' game. They actually debated using Ben Utecht as the punter. Utecht used to punt in high school. From an entertainment standpoint, I would have LOVED to watch a 6'5'' 240 TE trying to punt. From a football standpoint, THANK GOD they didn't let Utecht punt.
As with all pre-season games, we hope and pray no one gets hurt, on either team. The Seahawks have a good squad and this will be a nice test for both teams.
Both Shrug and I will have open threads for the game. Please post on both.