Before diving into the matchups, injuries threw a huge wrench into the Colts’ game plan, and also into my expected matchups to watch for the game.
Nyheim Hines vs. Eric Kendricks
Parris Campbell’s injury and the flow of the game meant Hines’ involvement in the game was much less significant than I expected. The Colts relied a lot more on the ground attack and used Taylor and Wilkins much more than Hines. Kendricks still had a solid game and was all over the field. Hines will most likely be used a lot this season, but it was certainly surprising to see how little he was involved on Sunday.
Parris Campbell vs. Holton Hill
Well, Campbell suffered a severe knee injury in the Colts first drive, so we did not get to see the encore to his breakout performance. Sucks for a player that was poised for a big season after struggling so much with injuries his rookie year. Hopefully he can make a full recovery and come back before the year ends, because he showed plenty of promise and looked like he had some decent chemistry with Rivers.
Ya-Sin/Rhodes vs. Adam Thielen
Yet again, in what seems like a curse, Ya-Sin was ruled out a few hours before the game due to an illness and then Rhodes cramped up and could not return. Still, T.J Carrie and the Colts secondary did an excellent job shutting down Thielen after a first drive where he caught all 3 passes thrown his way. Cousins forced the ball to Thielen a lot during the course of the game, but Indy’s banged up secondary managed to keep up thanks in part to Carrie and also rookie safety Julian Blackmon.
Leonard/Walker vs. Rudolph/Smith Jr.
Once again, the Colts did an excellent job at containing the opposing team’s tight ends. Cousins threw 5 times combined to Rudolph and Smith and completed just one pass for 3 yards. Special mention to Julian Blackmon who had a beautiful pass breakup on Irv Smith Jr. Eberflus’ coverage seems to be really effective against tight ends, which is good news considering the emergence of Jonnu Smith for the Titans.
Colts’ IOL vs. Vikings’ IDL
Nelson, Kelly, and Glowinski continue to show why they might be the best interior offensive line in the NFL, as they paved the way for Taylor’s big debut and managed to keep Rivers clean in the interior. Nelson and Kelly’s dominance was certainly expected, but Glowinski is a pleasant surprise this season, after being the offensive line’s weak link the past season.
T.Y. Hilton vs. Cameron Dantzler
Dantzler was also ruled out before the game in a week where it seemed like everyone was getting injured. Still, Hilton had his second bad game in a row, struggling to get open and also having a bad drop in the endzone. The main theory is that the bad drop was because of the sun, which makes sense considering Hilton rarely struggles with drops. Hopefully he reverts to the norm and becomes the valuable red-zone threat he was last season.