For the second week in a row, the Colts take on a playoff team from a year ago, the defending NFC East champion Eagles. It'll be the first Monday Night Football game hosted by the Colts since 2010 and only their second since 2006, and it's the team's home opener. Here's your game preview for Colts vs. Eagles.
What Happened Last Week?
The Eagles started very slow, falling behind the Jaguars 17-0 in the first half behind a dominating performance by Chad Henne and Allen Hurns. The Eagles righted the ship, however, rattling off 34 consecutive second half points to win comfortably, 34-17. At the same time, though, the Eagles didn't look great, and Nick Foles especially was bad. But, as the saying goes, a win is a win.
The Colts didn't come out in the winning column, but they made it competitive. The Denver Broncos jumped out to a 24-0 lead on the Colts, but Andrew Luck rallied his team back in and the Colts had a number of opportunities to win the game on the road against the Broncos, but they ultimately just didn't get it done, losing 31-24.
Key of the Game for the Colts
Chuck Pagano has finally worn off on me, I guess, because I'm going to say the key of the game for the Colts is stopping the run. LeSean McCoy is a very dangerous back and there's a good chance the Colts will be without several defensive starters. We know that starting linebacker Jerrell Freeman will be out, and then starting defensive linemen Josh Chapman and Arthur Jones are both questionable. The Eagles are going to be without two starting offensive linemen. The Colts have to find a way to slow down the Eagles' rushing attack and McCoy or else it will be a long game.
Matchup to Watch: Colts Offense vs. Eagles Defense
Watch out for T.Y. Hilton. Last week, Allen Hurns caught 4 passes for 110 yards and 2 touchdowns on this Jaguars defense. Hurns was an undrafted receiver. T.Y. Hilton is an established NFL receiver who figures to have a big year. The Eagles will certainly focus more on Hilton than they did on Hurns, but I still think the matchup of Hilton on either of the Eagles' corners (Cary Williams or Bradley Fletcher) is one that the Colts have to like and one that the Colts should take advantage of in this game. Last week, the Colts weren't too active in trying to get Hilton involved. I expect them to be this week, however, and that's a matchup to watch.
Matchup to Watch: Colts Defense vs. Eagles Offense
I already mentioned the run defense, which will be huge. But if we're looking at one specific matchup to watch, I think it'll be Eagles tight end Zach Ertz. He caught 3 passes for 77 yards and a touchdown last week and is rising among the ranks of receiving tight ends in the NFL. He's a talented pass catcher (out of Stanford!) and one that will give most opponents trouble. He might trouble the Colts even more. They couldn't cover Jimmy Graham in the preseason. They couldn't cover Julius Thomas last week. Can they cover Zach Ertz this week? In a league in which the receiving tight end is growing in prominence, a team unable to defend a tight end like that isn't going to do great. The Colts have had major issues defending the tight end (mainly thanks to D'Qwell Jackson and LaRon Landry's awful play) and there's a real risk that the same thing will be true this Monday night. This one is definitely a matchup to watch.
Why the Colts Will Win
Under Chuck Pagano and Andrew Luck, the Colts have not lost back-to-back games. Not even once. The Colts lost last week, so of course that means that history would suggest they'll win this week. Plus, they're playing at home for the first time this year. This is a team that generated next to no pass rush on the road against the defending AFC champion Broncos, led by perhaps the greatest quarterback of all-time leading a record-setting offense, and fell behind 24-0 - to lose by just 7 points in a game in which they had plenty of opportunities to win it. If ever a loss could feel encouraging, last week would seem to be it. It's hard to imagine the Colts facing a tougher situation this regular season than they did last week, and yet they still lost by just 7 points. The Eagles, on the other hand, struggled against the Jaguars. Oh, and as if I almost forgot, the Colts have Andrew Luck. That guy is pretty good.
Why the Colts Won't Win
Chip Kelly versus Chuck Pagano. LeSean McCoy versus an injured Colts front seven. Zach Ertz against D'Qwell Jackson and LaRon Landry. If you're a Colts fan feeling overly confident about this game, just think about those three match ups and you'll realize what a tough game this truly will be for the Colts. The Eagles are a good team with a unique hurry-up offense. It's enough of a concern to the Colts that they're likely going to adjust their offense scheme to a more slowed-down, keep away approach.
Although most games don't live up to the hype, this game should. These are two good teams and I don't see either team really pulling away at any point in the game (unless, of course, the Colts get behind early and have to come back to make it close. With Chuck Pagano and Pep Hamilton, you can't rule that gameplan out). This game should be a very good one and it could go either way, but the fact that the Colts have Andrew Luck (and have yet to lose back-to-back games with him at quarterback) and are playing at home leads me to give the edge to the Colts. I'm taking Indy in a close one.
Colts 31, Eagles 28
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