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Colts vs. Eagles: Five Things to Watch

The Indianapolis Colts play the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday night. Here are five things to watch.

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Justin Edmonds

With the Colts playing the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday night, there will be plenty of things to watch for.  Here are five of the biggest ones:

Run Game

The Colts want to be able to run the ball.  Chuck Pagano has said that'll be true until they run him out of Indianapolis (no pun intended).  Last week, they only had nine designed run plays.  Nine, all game.  They got behind early and had to take to the air, which makes sense.  But the Colts are absolutely committed to establishing that run game this week.  Expect Trent Richardson and Ahmad Bradshaw to both see significant time and significant carries as the Colts will likely try to make it a real emphasis.  Plus, the Colts want to control the clock, and that means more running the football.  They'll try to establish the run, so it'll be interesting to see how that goes.  And how long they stick with it.

Run Defense

If there's anything the Colts coaches love doing more than running the football, it's stopping the run.  And they'll get a chance to do that this weekend, too.  The Eagles have one of the best running backs in the league in LeSean McCoy and he will present a real threat to the Colts defense.  They've built their front seven completely around defending the run.  It's now time to show it on the field.  The Eagles present a tough challenge with their up-tempo offense, but also with McCoy.  He's going to get carries.  It'll be very interesting to see how the Colts defense responds.  A big question for this week might end up being whether Arthur Jones and Jerrell Freeman play or not.

Offensive Gameplan

It sounds like the Colts are just going to play "keep away," according to Chuck Pagano.  The Colts want to limit the Eagles' opportunities on offense and think that is the best way to slow down their super fast offense.  In doing so, the Colts will likely take things slow and operate with a running attack.  But here's the problem with that: it's one thing to tailor your gameplan to the opponent, but it's another thing completely to do so at the expense of what you do best.  The Colts are at their best when running a no-huddle passing attack.  Is that what they are going to run on Monday night?  It doesn't sound like it, but that might just mean they'll have to turn to it to make another comeback.  The offensive gameplan is definitely something to watch.

Pass Rush

The Colts will be playing without Robert Mathis on Monday night.  And the problem with that is more than just playing without their second best player, the Colts really don't have any pass rush help without him.  The Colts tried and tried to get pressure on Peyton Manning last week but couldn't.  This week, with an injured Eagles offensive line (they have two starters out) and facing Nick Foles instead of Peyton Manning (Foles is still a good quarterback, just not near as good as Peyton), the hope is that the Colts can generate more pass rush.  Bjoern Werner, Jonathan Newsome, and others will need to get pressure, and the Colts will likely blitz a lot.  I know the pass rush is already a major concern, but if they can't get any pressure on the Eagles, the concern will only intensify.

Can the Colts Cover a Tight End?

In the preseason, Jimmy Graham gave the Colts a ton of trouble.  Last week, Julius Thomas gave the Colts a ton of trouble.  This week, the expectation is that Zach Ertz will give the Colts a ton of trouble.  And there's really no reason not to think that, given the fact that the Colts just can't cover tight ends and the fact that Ertz is a very good one.  Last week, he caught 3 passes for 77 yards and a touchdown.  The expectation is that he'll surpass those numbers this week.  And until the Colts show that they can cover a tight end, people will go on thinking that.  They tried putting D'Qwell Jackson and LaRon Landry on Julius Thomas at different times last Sunday and neither worked.  Neither are likely to work against Zach Ertz on Monday night, either.  What is the Colts' plan to stop Ertz and the tight end position?  They need to have a better one than last week, and it'll be interesting to see what it is.

Editor's Note: SB Nation's partner FanDuel is hosting a $250,000 Fantasy Football Contest for Week 2's NFL games. It's only $10 to join and first place wins $25,000. Starts Sunday, September 14th at 1pm ET. Here's the link.