12 Things to Watch For in Sunday's Colts-Dolphins Game
This...is...awesome! I have no idea what it means, but I like it!
Last week, the Colts pulled off a stunning upset of the Titans. The win thrust them into the playoff hunt, and now the equally surprising Miami Dolphins invade Lucas Oil Stadium with the winner facing a real shot of claiming a post-season berth. Here's what to watch for...
1. Watch for the arm. The Dolphins have a shut-down run defense, and we all know that when push comes to shove, Andrew Luck has no qualms dropping back 55 times. Look for the Indy run game to struggle as the Dolphins shut down power runs, long runs, all runs. Luck's going to have toss his way to victory, so be prepared for plenty of drop backs, especially early in the game.
2. Watch for diddlypoo. The Dolphins haven't been a legitimate playoff contender in quite some time but suddenly they're in the mix. Likewise the Colts have indeed shocked some people by making their way into the discussion as well. Thanks in no small part to a historically bad AFC, these two teams both need to win this game in an attempt to get a leg up in the AFC Wild Card race. I still can't figure out how the AFC can be this bad but I won't look a gift horse in the mouth. Rather than question it I'm going to spend the rest of the day watching Jim Mora's famous rant on YouTube.
3. Watch the multiplier. Why are the Colts so bad at forcing turnovers? In part because their two best defensive players have yet to be healthy at the same time. It's hard to say how much Freeney and Mathis are actually healthy, but at least they'll be on the field together. That's got to count for something. At some point it becomes statistically impossible for the Colts to not force a turnover, even by accident. Best guess is that the two of them playing together will coincide with loose balls and picks. Their combined force multiplies itself and could maybe lift the Colts' defense away from being 31st in the NFL.
4. Watch for the Vontae Davis story. While Vontae Davis will miss this game with an injury the Dolphins are smiling all the way to the bank. The Dolphins have an emerging young corner in Jimmy Wilson and a second round pick to boot. Davis has yet to show any of the upside that demanded that second round pick and rookie GM Ryan Grigson may have his first real bust on his hands. Either way this is going to be something the talking heads address.
5. Watch for the development. Dwayne Allen is growing weekly. The Colts desperately need a second weapon to emerge, and the best bet is Allen. With Donnie Avery killing the offense weekly, and T.Y. Hilton very much a work in progress, it's Allen who has shown the most growth in his game. He put the ball on the turf twice against the Titans, so watch for him to grip it tight and get seven to ten targets as the Colts decide to abandon the run.
6. Watch for the need for a savior. Dolphins C Mike Pouncey is quietly putting together another very good year, and likely will completely control NT Antonio Johnson for the entire game. This will lead to Colts fans crying out for Josh Chapman to get on the active roster as soon as possible, and into a game, especially if the Colts are in a playoff hunt. Chapman may or may not be the long term solution to the nose tackle position, but the expectation is there that he will be, and will single-handedly fix all of Indianapolis' defensive problems.
7. Watch for the apocalypse. I'm not saying the world is coming to an end, but I'm some what suspicious of the Colts and 'Fins playing meaningful football in November. It seems like one of those rivers turning to blood kind of deals. I'm half expecting Ryan Tannehill to suddenly trot off the field, wave and thank us for all the fish on the way out. In that case, the Colts would probably win by forfeit, allowing me to salute R.E.M on the way to Mayantown because I feel fine.
8. Watch for envy. The home fans may get a little green when watching the Dolphins' offense on the field. Last week, the Dolphins' offensive line allowed just two quarterback pressures against the Jets. Meanwhile, in Nashville, the Colts were busy allowing 27 pressures on Andrew Luck. For Luck to succeed, he'll have to be scary good in the face of pressure, as he was last week. But fans will merely be salivating over how good he could be if he ever had an offensive line that gave him the kind of protection the Dolphins offensive line will give Tannehill.
9. Watch for the right side. The one weak spot on the Dolphins' offensive line is the right side, especially rookie right tackle Jonathan Martin, Andrew Luck's former teammate. If the Colts are going to get any pressure on the Miami QB, it will likely come from that side. Drake Nevis and Robert Mathis are the Colts' best bets to get pressure this week.
10. Watch for the crowd. There's a vibe around Indianapolis these days. People want to believe. Make no mistake, this Colts team needs plenty of help to win, and it's an easy team to get behind. It's like the whole team has taken on the personality of Reggie Wayne. It works hard. It's personable. It's not scientific, and there's no metric for it, but I expect the home fans to come unglued on Sunday afternoon. I hope that's enough.
11. Watch for a dirty jersey. While that other guy in Denver is having a pretty good year I've not felt the kind of envy I expected to feel due in large part to the gritty performance by Andrew Luck. Luck's uniform after most games looks like a poster child for a Tide commercial, a trend that makes me cringe. That said, there's nothing better than seeing this kid get up off the ground, pick the sod out of his helmet and run toward the endzone to celebrate with his teammates. That indominable spirit, scrappy attitude and ability to persevere despite a tough situation is remarkably endearing. Yeah, I kind of like this new guy. While I'd love to see him walk away unscathed for just one game this year I kind of like seeing him wipe off the dirt and smile. He's going to get knocked down quite a bit against the Dolphins but I sort of expect to see him laugh it off and play his best when it counts.
12. Watch for the end of my resistance. I'm done. I'm done trying to figure them out. There's no way to look at this team and arrive at the conclusion that they are in the playoff hunt, but they are. I'm laying down my arms. 31st ranked defense in DVOA be damned, they seem to have something special going that defies all logic and explanation. They shouldn't beat the Dolphins, but they will. Colts 20 Dolphins 17.
Nate, nice job on the HHGtotheG (well to the 4th book in the trilogy) reference. A little disappointed (though not surprised) nobody else commented on it.
I did not know you were so well rounded in useless trivia, thought you mainly stuck to sports and Star Wars. You a fan of old Doctor Who as well?
@JeffWagner I was hoping someone would get it!
I've never done Inspector Spacetime. I've thought about it several times, but I just can't deal with 50 years of back episodes.
1) davis has been anything but a bust. he got hurt a couple times. he plays football for a living. that happens. he is by far our best corner. it isnt even close. we would have been hard pressed to get somebody with his talent in the 2nd round
2) colts fans are pretty bad. the crowd wont be into it. as usual
@omahacolt Dude, the metrics on Davis are horrible.
He's allowed completions on 15 of 19 targets for 8.9 YPA with a passer rating fo 143.6 against.
He's been abjectly awful. On tape or by metrics, he's been nothing but a bust. There's no defense for that trade. He's not good.
Where do you live, man? When was the last time you were at a game?
and how many yards has he given up? he had a rough day against the bears but other than that he has been very solid. i really dont know how anyone can watch our corners and have a bad word to say about davis.
hell, he is rarely thrown at when he is on the field.
@omahacolt Well, if it's any consolation, I find your position equally incomprehensible. I certainly hope he plays great from here on out.
@Nate Dunlevy your take on davis just baffles me.
i look forward to davis proving you wrong. hopefully you dont just have a boner for hating on the guy
@omahacolt Gabbert only completed 10 passes total against the Colts. Until the 80 yard bomb, he only had 75 total yards passing. Let's be honest here.
I refuse to give Davis undue credit for that game.
He had a 'great' game in a game against Gabbert and was solid in a game against Weeden.
He was terrible in two other games and basically missed 3 more. I don't see how you can possible justify his play.
Agree to disagree, I guess, but I see no reason to be optimistic about him. He's been more bad than good.
@Nate Dunlevy wow. i really don't know what to say about that. i think you are way off the mark here.
i don't care who the qb is. this is the nfl. only 6 targets in 2 games is very good. allowing 20 yards in 2 games is very good.
every corner is going to get completions against him. what we have seen the last few games is that when they do throw his way (which is rare) he is right there for the stop.
@omahacolt First off, it's only his "past 3 games" if you count the Tennessee game as a whole game.
He played 5 snaps and gave up a completion for 8 yards, so that hardly counts.
In his other two games (against Gabbert and Weeden-two of the lowest rated QBs in football), he gave up 3 completions in 6 targets for 20 yards.
So he's had two awful games, and two solid (not awesome) games against the two worst QBs in football. Even so, his work v Weeden was just ok (2 for 4 for 18 yards). His Gabbert game was 1/2 for 2.
And he's essentially missed 3 other games.
@Nate Dunlevy credit colt_following for this stat in another thread
In his past 3 games he's only allowed 4 receptions for 28 yards and no TDs (in fact he hasn't allowed a TD since week 1)
how is that awful?
@Nate Dunlevy i fail to see how he has been awful when targeted. giving up a completion happens. davis has been getting better and better as the season went on.
he is by no means awful.
@omahacolt He's allowed 191 yards on 19 attempts.
He was targeted 7xs in 71 att v Chi
5 in 69 v Minn (w/ 5 completions btw)
2 in 52 and 4 in 58 in other games he played significant snaps (just played 5 v TN)
Powers was targeted once every 8.5 snaps played.
Davis once every 13.5 snaps played.
So, that's less, but not so much less as to account for how completely awful he has been when targeted.
Colts leading rusher (cringe): Andrew Luck, 60 yards on 8 carries. 5 first downs, 1 TD. I agree that we'll abandon the run (much more than I'd like) and he'll drop back like the labratory love child of Vinny Testaverde and Drew Bledsoe, so I think the fins will also play a lot more "fill the lanes" pass coverage, giving 12 a good number of running lanes for 5-7-10 yards. (Which, eventually, should bring defenders in a bit and open up a couple receivers) I hope he remembers to slide--a few extra fifteens added to the end of his runs would be appreciated, so long as they're not REALLY deserved. I, too, thinik an extra TE would be a nice thing to have and Fleener's history with Luck would be a bonus. I don't think we win this one, just a feeling, but it's a toss-up in my mind.
20-16 Colts. They do play better in that dome, and I just like this team right now. Their defense does seem to play badly, but still end up giving up less than 24 points or so.
I fear Luck will get battered in this game against a good Dolphins rush, but there should be plays out there. I'll take them to continue their hot streak in the Luke.
Can't believe this team might easily be 5-3. I really hope they draw Baltimore/Pittsburgh in the 1st round if they do somehow make the playoffs. Would hate to see them against either New England or Denver.
Great stuff, Nate! I'm glad you are more optimistic than I regarding this game.
Also, correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't Chapman supposed to be no better than an early third round pick if healthy? I know the hype around him continues to grow, but I don't think we can expect so much around him. I get the feeling that you guys also seem to think we should temper our expectations.
I think the Colts are really going to miss Fleener this game.
But it won't matter with the D flying around with the extra incentive of knowing they can get to an incredible average of forcing .5 turnovers a game. (C'mon guys, it just takes one this game!!!)
@DougEngland why the hell would they miss fleener?
It's difficult to replace 2-3 first downs a game.
In an offense that is desperately challenged for viable targets, losing Fleener will almost certainly have some impact.