After falling to the Los Angeles Rams 27-24, the Indianapolis Colts now have three straight road games which await them.
The first could be the most important of all three, as Indy faces division rival Tennessee in Nashville. We know all too well what losing a divisional game early on in the season can mean for playoff chances and seeding.
Tennessee’s coming off a comeback performance against the Seattle Seahawks, defeating them in overtime 33-30. Indy could very well have its hands full Sunday afternoon with Derrick Henry, who’s fresh off a 182-yard and 3 touchdown rushing performance.
Playing well against the run, which has been a strength of the Colts’ over the last couple of seasons, has mysteriously become somewhat of a weakness over the first two weeks, as the team has surrendered over 4 yards per carry against both the Seahawks and Rams in back-to-back weeks.
Additionally, Indianapolis could be missing several key players in Xavier Rhodes and Braden Smith, both of whom play a significant role at their respective positions and didn’t practice on Wednesday.
Quarterback Carson Wentz, who also didn’t practice Wednesday or play the final drive of last Sunday’s game due to spraining his ankle on the previous possession, is not guaranteed to start this Sunday. If Wentz is unable to start, it would likely mean either Jacob Eason or Brett Hundley would get the nod from Reich.
For context, Hundley hasn’t started a game since 2019 when he was with the Arizona Cardinals, and Eason hasn’t ever played in a regular-season game before.
Yes, the other injuries are significant. We’ve seen over the last two weeks what the Colts’ secondary and offensive line have played like without both Rhodes and Smith in the starting lineup. But the biggest question is the status of Wentz going into Sunday’s game. He’s that important to not just the offense’s success, but the entire team.
Wentz did provide an update on where he currently is from a heath standpoint in a press conference with local media members Wednesday afternoon.
“Still sore, both of them,” Wentz said regarding his two sprained ankles. “We’ll kind of see how it continues to progress and listen to the doctors, and listen to my body and see where we’re at.”
Should Indianapolis view Week 3’s matchup as a ‘must-win’? Sure, starting 0-3 isn’t ideal, but let’s remember they play in the AFC South with the dysfunctional Houston Texans and struggling Jacksonville Jaguars.
To be clear: I’m not suggesting playing Jacksonville and Houston are going to equal ‘free wins.’ What I am saying, however, is that it would be much easier to climb out of an 0-3 hole when you’re playing in perhaps the worst conference in the entire NFL as opposed to, say, the NFC West.
For the Colts, a team that’s looking to avoid an 0-3 start for the first time since 2011 when Curtis Painter was the team’s starting quarterback, having Wentz out there would without question give them the best chance at coming away with their first victory of the season.
Now Indy is forced to play the waiting game with the hope their quarterback, who’s helped keep them afloat during the first two games, is able to play in undoubtedly one of the biggest games of the teams’ entire season.