7 Things to Watch for in Sunday's Colts-Saints Game
So creepy. So hard to understand.
Last week, the Colts made Andy Dalton look like Drew Brees. This week, they play Drew Brees. So yeah. Good luck with that, guys. Here's what to watch for:
1. Watch the mirror image. They came off the Super Bowl and saw their defense regress. They won 10 games in 2010, but lost a heartbreaking first round game to an inferior team. They've become a largely one dimensional offense, and on defense they can't stop the pass at all. Their entire franchise rests upon their quarterback who threw an uncharacteristically high number of interceptions in 2010.
The Colts? Nope. I'm talking about their NFC doppleganger, the Saints. The Saints ARE the Colts, only without the catastrophic injury to their Hall of Fame quarterback. They have nearly identical defensive metrics, and the only difference in the record comes down the fact that they've scored 29 points a game, and won a couple of close games.
2. Watch for inefficiency. The Colts run DVOA is up over 2010. Curtis Painter has been surprisingly effective at quarterback. Normally, those two components should mean a respectable offense. Even with the move to Painter, the Colts are still languishing at the bottom of the league in points and offensive efficiency. The question is why? The Colts are 30th in the NFL in first downs per game. They have the worst average starting field position in the NFL. They are 28th in drive success rate. The Colts have put together some big plays this year, mostly by Pierre Garcon. Those big plays are keeping them in games. They are prettying up some stat lines, but they are also hiding the fact that on the whole, the passing offense isn't generating consistent drives. The Colts aren't moving the chains and sustaining drives. Oh, they'll hit you for a big pass interference call 40 yards downfield, or Garcon will slip behind the defense, but most of the time, the offense is bogging down too quickly. The result is an offense where no one's numbers look to bad, but the team doesn't score enough to win.
3. Watch for time. Drew Brees is among the least sacked quarterbacks in the league and the Colts have one of the worst pass rushes in the league. Since Foster and Nevis went down, the Colts have only managed two sacks. Indy hasn't forced a turnover since the first half of the Steelers game. So what do you get when you combine the Colts secondary with a defensive front that isn't getting to the quarterback? Points. Lots and lots of them. The Colts have been ineffective blitzing in recent weeks, and if they don't figure out some way to get their hands on Drew Brees, it's going to be the second half of the Super Bowl all over again.
4. Watch the other ghost of playoffs past. Darren Sproles destroyed the Colts in the 2008 playoff loss in San Diego. He signed a 4 year $14 million contract to go to the Saints, where he has done a little bit of everything. He's averaging 7 yards a carry, but only 4 carries a game. He has 39 catches already. He scored a touchdown on a punt return. In other words, he's what Reggie Bush was supposed to be. If the Colts have any hope to win the game, they'll have to come up with a way to keep Sproles from making a big play. The problem is that there are so many ways he can beat you, you can't prepare for just one.
5. Watch for happy Purdue fans. Painter versus Brees! It's a Boiler-gasm down in ol' New Orleans! So, you are telling me that Joe Tiller recruited three NFL quarterbacks to play in West Lafayette? I'll grant you that Kyle Orton and Curtis Painter aren't amazing players, but someone remind me why Boiler fans were actually happen to get rid of a guy that gifted at recruiting NFL talent? Whatever. Hope you enjoyed those bowl games, Boilers. You aren't getting back there any time soon.
6. Watch the replay. You'll see it over and over again this weekend on the pregames and during the game. It'll be the same thing every time. Reggie Wayne will stumble. Porter will pick off the ball. It'll all be over. And they'll play it again five minutes later. It will be set up as this moment of supreme meaning. It's going to hurt every time they show it. And they are going to show it and show it and show it. Get ready now. It's going to be a long weekend.
7. Watch for a massacre. I wish I could say that I saw some path to victory for the Colts. I don't. Frankly, if it's even close, the Saints should be ashamed of themselves. I can't imagine Indy stays within 14 points. Saints 45 Colts 17.