Last year, the best of the rookie quarterbacks was Andrew Luck. The most surprising of the rookie quarterbacks was Russell Wilson. And this year, they have established themselves as the two best quarterbacks from last year's draft class. This Sunday, they meet at Lucas Oil Stadium in a matchup of not only two of the league's brightest young signal callers but also in a matchup of two very good teams. They won't play again for four years, barring a meeting in the Super Bowl, since they are in different conferences. So enjoy it this weekend. The game will be broadcast at 1:00 p.m. eastern time by FOX with Kevin Burkhardt and John Lynch announcing (why they don't have their "A team" there, I don't know, but it's their loss). I'll listen to Bob Lamey and Jim Sorgi anyway, who are doing the game locally on radio on WFNI and WHLK in Indianapolis. The game will also be broadcast on WestwoodOne Sports radio by Dave Sims and Mark Malone. Here's all you need to know to get ready for the heavily anticipated game.
What Happened Last Week?
Last week the games were quite different for these two teams, with one blowing their opponent out and the other having to mount a furious comeback to win in overtime. While the latter would seem to fit the Colts, it actually was the opposite. The Colts went to Jacksonville and, even though the Jaguars are terrible, they dominated them in every way. It was the second straight very convincing win for the Colts and it continued to send them upwards in the power rankings. They are taking care of business, and a 37-3 win over the division rival Jaguars who always give the Colts a tough time is a big step in the right direction for this team.
The Seahawks were also playing an AFC South team, and for much of the game it looked like the Texans were going to win. Down 20-3 on the road at halftime, the Seahawks looked beat. But then they began to come back, and with 2:40 left in the game Richard Sherman jumped a route and took an interception back 58-yards for a score to force overtime. In overtime, Steven Hauschka nailed a 45-yard field goal to win 23-20. The Seahawks remained undefeated, but it wasn't an easy win by any means.
A Blueprint for a Colts Win
The Colts' coaching staff has been criticized a lot for their emphasis on running the football. The funny thing is, when it worked like the coaching staff liked, they were praised for it. In that game in San Francisco where the Colts made a statement by beating the 49ers 27-7, the Colts ran the ball 40 times for 184 yards and 3 scores, taking the lead and then running the ball to preserve it. The Colts won that game by running the football and playing good defense, and then the special teams and passing game complemented it nicely. I expect that to be the same approach against the Seahawks. With two pro bowl corners (including the league's best in Richard Sherman) the Colts might try to run it more with Trent Richardson. And really, it might work. But don't let that deceive you into thinking that Andrew Luck won't get his chances - he will. The Colts likely will move Reggie Wayne around and get him in the slot some, as the Seahawks keep their pro bowl corners on the outside and not in the slot. That would mean that Reggie has a matchup that he should be able to succeed with.
Additionally, the Colts secondary has played incredibly well in the past two weeks, and now they get a test in Russell Wilson and the Seahawks' offense. I would expect Seattle to come out running as well, trying to take advantage of a still suspect Colts run defense. That means that the secondary will need to make the most of their chances and they will need to keep a handle on Wilson. They have recorded six interceptions this year and have actually been much better at getting to the quarterback than expected, with Robert Mathis notching 7.5 sacks by himself. But getting to Wilson is one thing; brining him down is another thing entirely. Wilson is great at escaping pressure and making plays, reminding me of Andrew Luck when watching him. Last week, he ran for 77 yards on 10 carries. The Colts have played Terrelle Pryor, Ryan Tannehill, and Colin Kaepernick so far, but Wilson presents a bigger challenge than all of them and is the toughest of the group to actually bring down. The Seahawks will likely be without three starting offensive linemen though and the Texans sacked Wilson five times last week, so there is a real reason to think that the Colts could get to him.
Luck vs. Wilson, Part I
If they weren't in different conferences, the Luck/Wilson matchup could become one of the NFL's best rivalries. The two entered the league in the same year and from watching them, they play similar games. Both have good pocket presence, avoid pressure, can run, are good throwers, and will their teams to wins. There is no doubt that Luck is the better of the two, but Wilson himself is emerging as one of the league's best quarterbacks. There's no doubt that Seahawks are a better overall team than the Colts, but the Colts are emerging as a dangerous team. It should be a good game anyway and the matchup of the two quarterbacks makes it even better.
Indianapolis' Own 12th Man?
This is probably the biggest aspect in the Colts' favor of any. The Seahawks have the best home field advantage in the NFL in Quest Field (home of the 12th Man) and they are nearly unbeatable at home. But this week, they're on the road. That's a major, major benefit to the Colts. I know for a fact that the Colts are trying extra hard to get their own 12th man heard this week at Lucas Oil Stadium and they want to get the place rocking. The home field advantage in this game could be a big one in favor of the Colts.
Here is the Colts' Friday injury report. For analysis of it, head here.
- Ahmad Bradshaw, RB (neck)
- Stanley Havili, FB (ankle)
- Ricky Jean Francois, DT (groin)
- LaRon Landry, S (ankle)
- Bjoern Werner, OLB (foot)
- Vontae Davis, CB (foot)
- Delano Howell, S (toe)
- Hugh Thornton, OG (shoulder)
A few weeks ago, I would have picked the Seahawks by quite a bit. Not anymore. The Colts have shocked me with their play and where they are at, and after making a statement against the 49ers, I think they want to make an even bigger statement against a team that is at the top of the league, undefeated, and a legitimate super bowl contender. Two times in three weeks? That would increase the perception and expectation of this team tremendously, and that's what the Colts want. The Seahawks have perhaps the NFL's best defense and one of the NFL's best offenses, so it won't be easy, but with the way the Colts are playing and with how impressive they have been, I think they will make a big statement this Sunday to the NFL - they're for real. Colts 24, Seahawks 21