The Indianapolis Colts will host the San Francisco 49ers in Lucas Oil Stadium for their final NFC West match-up of the year. This team should have won both of its home games this year, but managed to allows the Arizona Cardinals back into the game in the fourth quarter and lost in overtime.
Second-year quarterback Jacoby Brissett has performed relatively well overall, but also shown the propensity to make mistakes. We discussed earlier this week that he needs to continue working on developing his pocket awareness and mobility on passing plays. He also needs to know when to eat the ball and not make forced throws to his receivers.
This team cannot continue to allow opponents to score defensive touchdowns. The defense has done a relatively good job of containing opponents throughout much of the season. The failure to put together offensive drives and putting opponents in the driver’s eat on the scoreboard based upon offensive mistakes will make the job for defense (and the likelihood that the defensive coaching staff will make bad adjustments) even more likely.
Some important pieces will be returning the field for the Colts offense who could help make the job a bit easier. Former first round center Ryan Kelly will start his first game of the 2017 season and should help a struggling offensive line — particularly running the football. Additionally, rookie running back Marlon Mack will join Frank Gore and Robert Turbin in the backfield to give Rob Chudzinski more flexibility with the offensive play-calling that could make things a bit easier for Jacoby Brissett.
The Colts offense will need to get these guys back because Jack Doyle will miss the first NFL game of his career due to injury. He has been a safety valve for a few years in Indianapolis and it won’t be easy to replace his production as a lead blocker on the ground and pass catcher in the flats.
The defensive side of the football is also a mixed bag from a health perspective. Rookie cornerback Quincy Wilson will play after missing the last two games and Chris Milton will finally be available as well. Rookie inside linebacker Anthony Walker will return from a hamstring injury and give the inside linebackers some more depth and athleticism.
However, Nate Hairston has made a big early impact for the Colts from the nickel spot and will be unable to play. Rashaan Melvin is off to the best start of his NFL career and is questionable after failing to fully practice this week.
The biggest 49ers player that slated to miss the game due to injury is LB Reuben Foster. Pair his absence with the return of Ryan Kelly and that could help get something going on the ground for the Colts.
5 big questions:
Will the offense make mistakes that lead to defensive points for the 49ers?
Will the Colts figure out how to fix their second half woes?
Can the Colts defense contain Carlos Hyde and Matt Breida?
Will the return of Ryan Kelly lead to an improved Colts running game, setup more play-action, and allow Jacoby Brissett to be more comfortable in the pocket?
Will the injuries to Rashaan Melvin and Nate Hairston expose the depth and inexperience for the Colts at cornerback?
In a surprise twist, rookie corner Quincy Wilson will not play today. Injured corner Rashaan Melvin will. I guess this is a net win as Melvin has been playing so well but it’s unfortunate that Wilson is unable to go. Hopefully he didn’t aggravate his knee injury.
1:00 PM ET on Sunday, October 8, 2017
Lucas Oil Stadium — Indianapolis, IN
FOX — Thom Brennaman, Chris Spielman, Peter Schrager (sideline)
WFNI (107.5FM/1070 The Fan) and WLHK (Country 97.1 Hank FM) — Bob Lamey, Jim Sorgi, Matt Taylor (sideline)
TV National Broadcast Map
See which games will be shown in your area, from 506Sports.com.
(Retractable roof stadium) 84’F, partly cloudy, 20% chance precipitation, wind SSE 8 mph
Walt Coleman. He is in his 29th year of NFL officiating.
Over/Under: 44.0 | Spread: Indianapolis (-1.5) (topbet)