Andrew Aziz of Everything Colts checks in with another preview this week.
What the Colts Need To Do To Win
The most important thing is that the Colts need to play mistake free football. The main reason why they lost last week is because they turned-over the ball 3 times, one of which resulted in a defensive touchdown for the Bengals. I firmly believe that if the Colts did not make any turnovers last week, they would have won. Joseph Addai should be back so he should add a spark like he did last year vs the Raiders. The Saints defense is nothing to go crazy about being ranked 17th in total yards, 14th in rush defense, and 19th in pass defense. The offense is not a huge problem, they just need to keep the ball away from hawks like Jabari Greer, Tracy Porter, and Roman Harper. The offensive line has to also come through as Will Smith, Shaun Rogers and Cameron Jordan are great pass rushers and if they get to Painter, turnovers could happen.
The dependent variable. The defense has to come through. Their rushing game is not a huge problem as Mark Ingram is only averaging 3.6 yards per carry. Darren Sproles could come in on some running plays, but he's mostly effective and used in the passing game. The pass defense has to be spot on, like the Steelers game, plus the linebackers need to be very active making tackles. I don't want to see Antoine Bethea having to make touchdown saving tackles. The big thing on defense is stopping Drew Brees. For starters, he's the guy who beat the Colts in Super Bowl 44, and has passed for more than 350 yards in the last 4 games (NFL Record). Marques Colston is back, plus they have the best tight end in football right now in Jimmy Graham. They also have deep threats in Devery Henderson and a great reliable receiver in Lance Moore. Also, they can dump it off to Darren Sproles and he can turn a 2 yard pass into a 75 yard touchdown... just look at the 2007 and 2008 Colts - Chargers playoff game. The Colts have to cause turnovers, cause they ain't shutting down one of the best QBs in the league. I'm being completely honest, they need some tip balls or they need to pressure him and let him throw the long bomb and hopefully a safety will be there to pick it off. Turnovers is what we need to win. The Colts should also watch out for Darren Sproles on punt return, because he could definitely take it to the house.
What The Saints Need to Do To Win
They don't have do much. It all comes down to their offense. Their defense is not going to allow the Colts offense to score more than 24 points, and that D is great at causing turnovers, something that has killed the Colts in the last couple of weeks. If the Saints can stop the Colts D-line from sacking and pressuring Brees, Drew will have time to find his receivers and pick the Colts D apart. It's what he's famous for, picking apart defenses. He could find Jimmy Graham, who has been his favourite target, and with the Colts defense, they should target short and dump it off to him. All they need to do is pick apart this weak Colts pass defense and they win this game.
Breakout Performers/ Key Matchup
For the Colts, it's the secondary. It's simple, if they play well and manage to control and semi-stop Drew Brees, the Colts can win. If they can't, they'll get picked apart and lose.
For the Saints, it's Darren Sproles. He's killed us before, and he's so fast. He's going to take a lot of the snaps, plus he could take a kick to the house. Expect a big game from him.
What I Think Will Happen
I think the Colts will come out firing, but won't do anything big. I think the Saints start out hot, and run heavy. Mark Ingram and Darren Sproles will pound the ball until the Colts 30 yard line, then they'll really start throwing it. The Colts will get their first score at the end of the first, as the Saints will get theirs on their first or second drive. The halftime score will be 14-7 for the Saints. The Colts will make it close in the middle of the 3rd quarter, by driving down to their 12 yard line, and make a 29 yard field goal. The Saints will come back on the next drive and not score, and then the Colts will not score either. The Saints will come back on the next drive and score 3 points to end the 3rd quarter. The Colts will come back out at the start of the 4th quarter, and score off a great drive that included a 50 yard pass to Austin Collie. The score will be 21-17 with 10 minutes left. The Saints will not score, and neither will the Colts. There is going to be around 5 minutes left and the Saints will drive down to the Colts zone and make a field goal. The Colts will have 1 and a half to score, and Painter will lead them down to the Saints 35, but will be stopped on 4th and 3. Curtis Painter will go 19 for 29 for 311 yards and 1 touchdown. Joseph Addai will have 14 rushes for 66 yards with 1 touchdown. Reggie Wayne will be the best receiver with 7 catches for 81 yards and a touchdown. Austin Collie will have 3 catches for 67 yards, Pierre Garcon will have 4 catches for 45 yards, and Dallas Clark will 5 catches for 51 yards. Joseph Addai and Brody Eldridge will have the remaining 2 catches. For the Saints, Drew Brees will go 23 for 30 with 278 yards and 2 touchdowns. Mark Ingram will have 10 rushes for 40 yards and Darren Sproles will have 6 rushes for 35 yards and 4 catches for 39 yards. Marques Colston will have a big game having 8 catches for 101 yards, and Jimmy Graham will have 5 catches for 67 yards and a touchdown. Lance Moore will have a good game with 6 catches for 41 yards, and Devery Henderson will have 2 catches for 36 yards and a touchdown. The Saints will have the lead from the beginning and not relinquish it, but the game will be closer than expected.
Saints 24 vs Colts 17
Last Time They Played
Super Bowl 44
Saints 31 vs Colts 17