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Colts set to make second NFL International Series appearance in Germany

Only two of the eight remaining teams on Indianapolis’ regular season schedule – Cincinnati and Pittsburgh – enter Week 10 posting a winning record.

Indianapolis Colts v Carolina Panthers
Indianapolis Colts linebacker Segun Olubi (50) celebrates with teammates after making his first career interception against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium — November 5, 2023 in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Photo by Kara Durrette/Getty Images

It’s been over seven years since the first and only time the Indianapolis Colts flew overseas to compete in the NFL’s International Series.

Colts defensive coordinator Gus Bradley was on the opposite sideline back then at the helm of Jacksonville and commanded the Jaguars to their first victory in 2016 with a 30-27 win over the Colts at Wembley Stadium in London.

Indianapolis has scored 20 points in every game, while New England (2-7) ranks 31st averaging an abysmal 15.0 points per game and has surpassed 20 points just once this season. Bradley mentioned during Tuesday’s coordinator zoom meeting tackling was the key area to focus on this week, acknowledging every NFL team can score a lot of points.

“Last week we went back and said, ‘Let’s get back to being fundamentally who we are and get back to doing the things that we do’,” Bradley said. “Shane’s (Steichen) big words were execution, communication, being on the details and I think that we went back more to that.”

Despite a reluctance to blitz, Indianapolis (4-5) was able to generate a crushing pass rush against Carolina, compiling four sacks as five players rotating in the front line wrapped up rookie quarterback Bryce Young. According to Pro Football Focus, Colts defensive tackle DeForest Buckner holds the sixth-highest pass rush grade (84.2) among defensive linemen and his five sacks are the sixth-most in the NFL.

“That is what we are trying to do. I mentioned that when we first got here – we need to somehow find a way to generate rush,” Bradley said. “If we can get eight or nine guys deep – that’s what we’re looking for. Nate (Ollie) does a great job substituting. You saw Zay (Isaiah Land) get in there at the end and get eight or nine reps so we can take a look at him in a pressure situation, and I thought he did a good job rushing.

“It’s that constant journey of trying to find eight guys that we can count on that can generate rush from a four-man look. A lot of guys are getting a lot of opportunities and we are just trying to see who those guys are. It’s a highly-competitive unit right now and we are seeing who we can consistently count on.”

Kenny Moore II led all cornerbacks in Week 9 with a 93.9 PFF coverage grade after returning two interceptions for touchdowns, while allowing just one first down reception. Moore has allowed the lowest passer rating (13.2) in single man coverage this season and his 0.79 yards allowed per snap is the third-fewest among qualifying cornerbacks.

According to Sharp Football Analysis, the Colts entered this season with the third-easiest schedule. Only two of the eight remaining teams on Indianapolis’ regular season schedule – Cincinnati and Pittsburgh – enter Week 10 posting a winning record. With Sunday’s kickoff in Frankfurt, Germany scheduled at 9:30 a.m. ET, a 20-point threshold is vital to enter the BYE week with consecutive wins.