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Matchups to watch: Week 16 Colts at Cardinals

NFL: DEC 18 Patriots at Colts Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Colts’ edge rushers vs. Kyler Murray

The Colts’ edge rushers failed miserably the last time they faced a quarterback with athleticism like that of Kyler Murray, allowing Lamar Jackson to post arguably the best game of his career. Kwity Paye has seemingly come a long way since that matchup, but the rest of the Colts’ edge rusher group is terrible. AQM will probably get over 85% of the snaps, and at this points it is just impossible to know why, Isaac Rochell brings very little to the table, Kemoko Turay is out with COVID, and Dayo Odeyingbo is still not back at 100%. Perhaps this might be the Ben Banogu game?

Eric Fisher vs. Chandler Jones

Yikes, this could get ugly very quickly. Not only will Fisher not have Quenton Nelson next to him, but the Cardinals would be wise to put Chandler Jones in front of him every single snap. Jones has been once again one of the most prolific edge rushers in the NFL, and he will give Eric Fisher his toughest test of the season. I am not expecting much from Fisher, and I am not asking him to block Jones one-on-one perfectly all game long, just at least keep it interesting.

Xavier Rhodes/Isaiah Rodgers vs. Christian Kirk

#1 cornerback Rock Ya-Sin is out for Saturday’s matchup because of the COVID outbreak (luckily DeAndre Hopkins is also out), but still, the Colts will have to cover wide receiver Christian Kirk, as his connection with Murray has shown up plenty of times this season. Rodgers and Rhodes have both been playing amazing over the past 4 games, and will need to step up once again against one of the most explosive passing offenses in the NFL.

Colts’ IOL vs. Miscommunication and mistakes

The Colts will be rolling out 3 backup interior offensive linemen on Saturday. Center Ryan Kelly is still out dealing with personal issues, while Nelson and Glowinski have both been placed on the COVID list. As a result, Matt Pryor will take over the right guard spot, Danny Pinter will once again fill in at center, and Chris Reed will take over the left guard spot. Rolling out an entire new unit on the interior could lead to several miscommunications and blown blocking schemes, so that issue is definitely worth monitoring.

DeForest Buckner vs. Josh Jones

The Cardinals’ weak link in their offensive line has clearly been right guard Josh Jones this season, and they will also probably be without starting center Rodney Hudson. Colts’ Pro-Bowl defensive tackle DeForest Buckner could have a field day against those two. The problem here is that whatever pressure he generates might be useless if the edge rushers cannot capitalize on it.