For a third consecutive week, the Colts have a tough test ahead of them where a full 60 minutes of their best football is needed for victory. On Sunday, the 7-2 Packers come to Indy for what is one of the best matchups in the NFL this week.
This will be a good test for the Colts. Let’s check out which players will be keys to leaving the week 1-0.
Nyheim Hines (RB)
The Packers have just two losses this season. The first was against the Buccaneers who rushed for 158 yards and picked Aaron Rodgers off twice early on in the game. The second was against the Vikings who were led by Dalvin Cook and rushed for 173 yards.
I’m sure you are picking up the theme here. The way to beat the Packers is dominating the run game.
So that limits my offensive player to three guys. Jonathan Taylor, Nyheim Hines, and Jordan Wilkins.
While I think all three are viable options, Wilkins doesn’t get nearly as many touches as the other two. Taylor is used a lot more in the ground game, while Hines is utilized more for his versatility, both rushing and receiving.
I’m going to ride the hot hand with this pick, like I think Frank Reich should, and pick Nyheim Hines as my key player.
Hines is coming off one of the best games of his career last week against the Titans. Hines had 12 carries for 70 yards and a touchdown on the ground while bringing in five receptions for 45 yards and a touchdown in the air.
Just a couple weeks earlier, Hines had another fantastic game against the Lions. He brought in three catches for 54 yards and two touchdowns in that game. Yes, I realize his rushing stats weren’t quite there for that game, but Taylor did nothing on the ground and it took until the fourth quarter for Reich to make Wilkins the lead back.
I think Hines’ versatility will prove to be an asset in this game against a Packers defense that has been less than stellar for the majority of the season.
The Packers are however likely to get their top corners, Kevin King and Jaire Alexander back this week. Assuming they are both completely healthy, that would likely make it more difficult for the Indy receivers. Hines being in the backfield could make for a good option when Rivers drops back.
A few check downs never hurt anybody. Especially since Hines is so dangerous when he has the ball with space to run. Look out for him this week, I think you’ll like what you see.
Xavier Rhodes (CB)
I think the position group is obvious here for my key player. It has to be someone in the secondary.
Rodgers’ numbers this year are just like every other season, impressive. He is seventh in the NFL in passing yards, second in touchdown passes, and first in quarterback rating. Not to mention, he only has three interceptions this year.
The Packers are averaging 30.8 points per game and over 400 yards of offense. 286 of those 400 yards are coming from Rodgers in the passing game.
The Colts secondary has what is probably the toughest test of the season coming up. To make matters worse for the Colts, the Packers’ receiving core is something special.
Davante Adams is a top receiver in the NFL with 741 yards, and nine touchdowns which is top in the League. Marquez Valdes-Scantling has caught his stride the past two weeks for Green Bay with over 200 yards and three touchdown receptions in that two week span. Allen Lazard may be making his return to the field this week as well. He has only played in three games this season, but picked up 254 yards with two touchdowns of his own.
While this is absolutely a challenge for all of the Colts’ corners, I picked Rhodes for this game because he seems to be the lead for the unit and has had a great season so far in 2020.
Rhodes has played against Rodgers and the Packers many times in his career, and knows the challenges that come with it.
Had a chat with Colts CB Xavier Rhodes today, who had plenty of battles with Aaron Rodgers while in Minnesota. He was adamant on this:— Zak Keefer (@zkeefer) November 18, 2020
"This is not an individual game Sunday. This is a team game. An entire defense type game. We need all 11 — literally — to beat this team."
The Colts have been sneaky good covering the pass all season long. A total of 286 passes have been attempted against them so far this season. 60 of these passes have been defended or intercepted, according to Pro Football Reference. A coverage percentage of 21% which tops the NFL with the Steelers behind them at 18.2%.
This game features some of the League’s best players going head to head. Rhodes will likely take on Davante Adams on Sunday who did miss some practice this week with an ankle injury. Should make for a fun matchup to watch.