The 4-2 Colts are coming off a bye week as they head to Detroit to play the Lions this Sunday. The Lions had a rough start to the season, but after two consecutive victories against the Jaguars and Falcons, they find themselves with a .500 winning percentage.
Here are the two players that in my eyes will need big games for the Colts to leave Detroit victorious:
Jonathan Taylor (RB)
With as strong as the offensive line for the Colts is, the running game has been slacking all season long. Averaging just 98 yards per game on the ground as a team, Indy needs a more dominant rushing attack in order to control the pace of games.
Jonathan Taylor took over the starting running back spot this year after Marlon Mack tore his Achilles in week 1 of the season. Taylor has averaged 61.2 rushing yards per game with an average of 4.1 yards per carry.
The Lions defense has been on and off all season long, but in their past two games, they held the Jaguars to just 44 rushing yards and the Falcons to 66. It seems that this may be the recipe for success in Detroit.
Those two games appear to be outliers for the Lions who are giving up an average of 131.8 rushing yards per game.
The Colts should look to establish the run game early on Sunday, and hope Taylor can find the openings the offensive line provides him. This is something he has struggled with since week 1.
Indy is still waiting on Taylor to have a monster game this season, and this may be the week Colts fans finally see it. Coming off the bye, I would not be surprised if Reich gives Taylor a ton of opportunities to run the ball. How Taylor performs depends on which Lions defense comes to play on Sunday and how the offensive line can handle them.
XAVIER RHODES (CB)
The Lions offense has several threats in their passing game, which is why Rhodes is my key player for Sunday.
Between receivers like Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones Jr, not to mention a quarterback like Matthew Stafford, the air game is always a danger for defenses playing the Lions.
This season, Rhodes has been targeted 10 times on 3rd downs and has allowed a 0.0 passer rating on those plays. To give you an even better idea of Rhodes’ dominance this year:
Lowest passer rating allowed by CBs:— PFF (@PFF) October 29, 2020
1. Kendall Fuller - 9.3
2. Jason Verrett - 23.2
3. Xavier Rhodes - 46.6
4. Xavien Howard- 49.0 pic.twitter.com/gHM0dQO1GY
If the Colts can find a way to shut down the Lions passing game, they should have no problem finding a way to win. The defensive front for the Colts has been strong all year long, and I expect that to continue. Darius Leonard should be making his return to the field on Sunday as well, which makes it that much easier for the defense.
All Rhodes needs to do is continue to dominate the way he has for the majority of this season. If he can keep tight coverage on his receivers and maybe come out with a pick, Indy will improve to 5-2 on the year.