DeForest Buckner vs. Ed Ingram
Despite the emergence of Grover Stewart, Buckner is still the guy on the defensive line rotation, and is the only one getting consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks. He has an amazing matchup in his hands against Ed Ingram, who has been struggling a lot this season, as he has allowed 49 pressures on 580 pass blocking snaps. Pass rush from the inside is crucial against pocket quarterbacks like Kirk Cousins, so Buckner will have to have a great game.
Bernard Raimann vs. Za’Darius Smith
Za’Darius Smith is an experienced pass-rusher that is posting yet another solid year, racking up 70 pressures so far (Ngakoue and Paye have 59 combined on more snaps played). Bernard Raimann has been improving every single week since taking over the starting job, posting the best PFF overall grade by a Colts’ offensive lineman since Week 10, as he allowed just 3 pressures in 83 pass blocking snaps.
Stephon Gilmore / Isaiah Rodgers vs. Justin Jefferson
Justin Jefferson is probably the best wide receiver in the NFL right now. He leads the NFL in receiving yards with 1500, and is one reception away from a hundred. J-Jettas is the entire package, he can beat you deep, he can get yards after the catch, he can moss you, there is just nothing he cannot do. Gilmore and Rodgers have been no slouches this season, especially Gilmore, who has been as good as advertised after being signed as a free-agent. Watch out if Jefferson gets matched up against Facyson, as it could get ugly.
Gus Bradley vs. Kirk Cousins
Despite the abysmal regression by the offense, the defense is still more than holding up their own, posting better than average numbers in both Rush EPA / play allowed and in Dropback EPA / play allowed. Kirk Cousins is a solid quarterback, but not the type of guy that defensive coordinators lose sleep about. It is pretty well known by now what his strengths and weaknesses are, and Bradley is coaching for his job right now, as it remains to be seen whether the new head coach will look to keep him or if he will be out of a job once again.
Colts vs. Getting in the way of a top 5 pick
I don’t know why, but this feels exactly like the type of game the Colts have no business winning and will surprisingly do. To tank or not to tank is a sensitive subject, but I for one am firmly on team tank. I don’t see the point in both playing injured players and trying to win meaningless games that will alter our draft position. This is a very good quarterback draft class, and the Colts have the perfect chance to pick inside the top 5 and set themselves up for future success. I understand, you have to respect your culture, and losing hurts the locker room, and whatever, but the truth is, the team is going nowhere without a talented quarterback, and the best way to get those is picking early in the draft, those are the facts.