The 2017 season is on the line today when the Colts host the Cleveland Browns. As has been highly discussed, the Browns enter the game as favorites on the road for the first time in three years. We also discussed earlier this week that teams who start 0-2 are very unlikely to get into the playoffs and this week pits two teams against each other facing the prospect of an even more insurmountable hole at 0-3.
Some familiar faces will be returning to Indianapolis on the Browns sidelines, including 2017 Colts draft pick Zach Banner. Former defensive lineman T.Y. McGill will also come back to Indianapolis but will not to get his shot at putting a big hit on second-year quarterback Jacoby Brissett. Both former Colts find themselves on the inactive list for the third straight week.
There’s also a guy in the front office Colts fans might be familiar with — Ryan Grigson is a member of the Browns staff as a Senior Personnel Executive. While there is no report about whether he plans to attend the game today, the Browns future will have a Grigson influence.
Stampede Blue’s Chris Shepherd pointed out that Hue Jackson’s offense will test the Colts young secondary. Expect to see a lot of pre-snap motion and games to create match-ups the Browns favor. Also, the Colts face the first rookie quarterback of their young season so expect for the defense to have opportunities to generate pressure, especially if the secondary can do their job in coverage.
As for the Colts offense, they will need to be ready for Gregg Williams to dial up regular blitz schemes to generate pressure. This could really challenge undrafted free agent rookie center Deyshawn Bond and first-year starting guard Jeremy Vujnovich. It could also encourage Colts offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski to go with two tight ends and keep his running backs in to block.
The upside to having the running backs in to block is that they may be able to leak out of the backfield as safety valves when pressure is not coming and give Jacoby Brissett easy outlets. The downside is that the more players are kept in to block, the fewer players are out stretching the field.
Additionally, in games like this one, special teams can play a huge role. It could all come down to who wins the field position battle and that means rookie punter Rigoberto Sanchez will need to pin the Browns deep in their own territory and give the defense a chance to get the ball back to the offense with a short field. Adam Vinatieri will similarly need to be on target today as field goals will likely play an important role in the outcome of the game.
The Colts inactive list includes seven players: QB Andrew Luck (shoulder) OUT, RB Marlon Mack (shoulder) OUT, WR Chester Rogers (hamstring) OUT, C Ryan Kelly (foot) OUT, ILB Anthony Walker (hamstring) OUT, CB Quincy Wilson (knee) OUT, and CB Vontae Davis (groin) OUT.
A bit of a surprise: Colts will start Pierre Desir at cornerback today with Vontae Davis and Quincy Wilson out.— Zak Keefer (@zkeefer) September 24, 2017
The Browns inactive list includes: LB Jamie Collins (concussion) OUT, DE Myles Garrett (ankle) OUT, WR Sammie Coates (hamstring) OUT, OL Zach Banner, OL Marcus Martin, DL T.Y. McGill, and QB Cody Kessler.
Today’s game will also represent another historic first for women in NFL football. The first female official was hired in 2015. Today will be the first time a woman, Beth Mowins, handles the play-by-play during CBS’ live broadcast of the game.
1:00 PM ET on Sunday, September 24, 2017
Lucas Oil Stadium — Indianapolis, IN
CBS — Beth Mowins, Jay Feely
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. 90’F, sunny, 10% chance precipitation, wind ESE 5 mph
Ed Hochuli. He is in his 28th year of NFL officiating.
Over/Under: 41 | Spread: Cleveland (-1.5) (Bovada)