60 minutes of football riddled with penalties and three-and-out drives. It was a defensive battle on Sunday, but the Colts ultimately took a 19-11 victory against the Bears. This is the third consecutive victory for the Colts as they head to Cleveland this Sunday to take on the Browns.
The team has shown a lot of promise for a potential playoff run this year. Let’s check in on their temperature.
The offense couldn’t keep the fire going after a decent start to the game on Sunday. At the very start of the game, the Bears were forced to punt and that punt was blocked by Jordan Glasgow, giving the Colts great field position. After several consecutive penalties, and a key reception by Zach Pascal, Philip Rivers found Mo Alie-Cox in the end zone for a touchdown.
The Colts didn’t record a single touchdown for the remainder of the game, and ultimately racked up four field goals to account for the rest of Indy’s points.
The Bears defense is pretty strong, and the Colts are already banged up on offense, but after such a strong start, it was a disappointment to continuously settle for field goals. Red zone efficiency has been one of the bigger concerns for the offense this season, but I am confident Frank Reich and Nick Sirianni are working to fix that.
My biggest quarrel with the offense on Sunday is the usage of Mo Alie-Cox. Alie-Cox has been a massive playmaker for the Colts the past few weeks including one game where he put up over 100 receiving yards. This week, tight end Trey Burton made his Colts debut after returning from injury. Burton played 50% of offensive snaps and was even targeted five times pulling in two catches for 16 yards.
Alie-Cox deserves a bigger role, and I believe you will see it this Sunday against the Browns. He has been nothing short of spectacular when utilized correctly, and we all know how much Rivers loves his tight ends. Mo is hot right now, keep feeding him the ball.
Unfortunately, a trend of the negative category is injury concerns. Injuries continue to pile up for the Colts, and they seem to happen to the biggest impact players.
This week it was star linebacker Darius Leonard with a groin injury and left tackle Anthony Castonzo with a rib injury, both are ruled out of Sunday’s game in Cleveland. Big hits on both sides of the ball for the Colts.
News: Colts LT Anthony Castonzo officially ruled OUT for Sunday's game vs. Browns. Le'Raven Clark will start in his stead.— Zak Keefer (@zkeefer) October 9, 2020
Same with LB Darius Leonard.
Colts will be without two of their very best players.
When Leonard went to the sideline on Sunday, second year linebacker Bobby Okereke took his place and to no one’s surprise performed very well. He banged up his thumb in the game and has been practicing with it wrapped up. We’ll see what effect his wrapped hand will have on Sunday while he takes a much more important role with the absence of Leonard.
The obvious positive from both Sunday, and the season as a whole… The defense.
I’m hesitant to call this defense elite because they haven’t played a totally dominant offensive team yet, but when you look at how they have performed so far, it is hard to argue against their greatness.
On Sunday, the Colts held an undefeated team, who put up three touchdowns in the fourth quarter alone the week before, to just 11 points. The Bears recorded 28 rushing yards for the duration of the game which is almost laughable when you think about it.
Individual accolades go out to Julian Blackmon who got his first career interception of the season, and Justin Houston who put up another sack adding to his season total of 3.5. Rock Ya-Sin and Xavier Rhodes made a few big plays as well.
This defense is a serious problem for opposing teams. Don’t just take my word for it. I’ll let the numbers speak for themselves.
Through four weeks, and with the Monday night games in the books, the Colts' defense ranks first in the NFL in:— Zak Keefer (@zkeefer) October 6, 2020
— yards/game allowed (236.3)
— passing yards/game (159.3)
— points allowed/game (14.0)
— interceptions (7)
— safeties (2)
— 3rd downs allowed (31%)
— defensive TDs (2)
Some might see these numbers and still point to the competition that the Colts have had up to this point, so allow me to take it a step further.
Excluding the Colts game, the Vikings’ offense puts up 31.6 points per game. The Colts held them to 11.
Excluding the Colts game, the Jets offense averages 25.3 points per game. The Colts gave up 7.
Coming into Sunday’s contest, the Bears were scoring 24.6 points per game. The Colts held them to 11.
Read into that however you would like, but that proves dominance.
After Sunday, it would be unfair to keep the temperature at the same spot for a third consecutive week. The Colts are heating up, and I am cautiously moving them up to a hotter zone. My biggest hesitation is this never ending flow of injuries. A hurt roster makes every game much more difficult. A huge game sits in front of the Colts on Sunday.
The Browns are 3-1, but haven’t looked absolutely phenomenal this year. They put up just 6 points against the Ravens and barely beat the Bengals. However, last week they scored 49 points against the Cowboys and accumulated over 300 rushing yards. The Colts defense is much stronger than the Cowboys, but the Browns proved they can put up points. I expect an exciting game on Sunday. The Colts defense will continue to dominate, let’s see if the offense can follow suit.