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Colts vs. Eagles Week 11 preview: Can Jonathan Taylor exploit a struggling Eagles rush defense?

The Eagles have desperately scrambled to fix their rush defense after a surprising loss to the Washington Commanders. Did they have enough time to prepare for Jonathan Taylor, or could the Colts follow the same game plan?

Indianapolis Colts v Las Vegas Raiders Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

DraftKings Sportsbook has the Colts as 6.5-point underdogs at home against the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles will look to wash a nasty taste out of their mouths as they just suffered their first loss. Additionally, Nick Sirianni is good friends with former Colts head coach Frank Reich and might feel extra inspired to punish his former team, who unceremoniously sent his mentor packing. Can the Colts' defense hold sway, and can the offense follow the blueprint the Commanders laid out earlier in the week?

How about some context?

The Colts beat a bad Raiders team in Las Vegas a week ago. It was a notable win because it ended a losing streak and because interim coach Jeff Saturday silenced his loud critics for at least a few days. The win gave the fan base something to feel good about because the offensive line didn’t look awful, and Jonathan Taylor finally broke a big touchdown run.

On the other hand, the Raiders’ defense is bad and the worst in the NFL at generating pressure on opposing quarterbacks. In that regard, perhaps the whole situation was a bit of a mirage.

What happens today should be a wake-up call, one way or the other. The Eagles are the most dominant team in the NFL this year. They are one of the best rushing offenses in the league, with one of the most dangerous rushing quarterbacks, with receiving weapons like AJ Brown and Devonta Smith. Nick Sirianni orchestrated the Colts’ offense for years, is familiar with what the team likes to do, and has used his experience under Frank Reich to help unlock Jalen Hurts’ and Miles Sanders’ potential in Philadelphia.

What makes matters worse, the Eagles’ defense is mostly good too. Their biggest weakness was exposed last week in a loss to the Washington Commanders. Philadelphia is susceptible on the ground. It should mean a good day for Jonathan Taylor, and when Taylor has a good day, it often means a Colts win - or at least a close game. It’s no surprise Linval Joseph and Ndamukong Suh were signed to beef up the defensive interior. Joseph is 6’4” and 328 pounds. He is expected to play, even though he didn’t arrive at the Eagles facility until Wednesday.

Ultimately, this game will come down to the same things that matter each week. Can the offensive line look anything like it did for the past two seasons? Can the defense limit a high-octane offense and keep the playbook open for Parks Frazier to use Jonathan Taylor in his plans? Can the offense avoid costly turnovers, especially on their side of the field — putting the defense in an impossible situation?

This game will be about efficiency on both sides of the ball. There's at least a chance if Indianapolis gets a strong performance from both sides. If the Colts manage to beat the Eagles this week, the media circus surrounding the Jeff Saturday hiring will get a bigger budget and new acts.