Aaron Rodgers will be key to the Packers avoiding a trap game against the Indianapolis Colts
By Bill Walton
The Packers take their roadshow to Indianapolis on Sunday to face the Colts.
At 1-2 and coming off their early-season bye week, the Colts should not be looked upon as anything other than a dangerous, perhaps even desperate, team. The old “any given Sunday” adage certainly seems to fit this game. Several Colts starters are out with injuries. Unable to go for the Packers game are cornerbacks Vontae Davis and Justin King, linebacker Pat Angerer, and guards Joe Reitz and Seth Olsen. Linebacker Dwight Freeney is questionable and doesn’t think he can go. Indy’s first-year head coach Chuck Pagano is undergoing treatment for Leukemia.
The emotional impact of Pagano’s absence from the game may be an underappreciated intangible in the Colts’ favor. Hurting both physically and emotionally, the Colts will probably be overmatched physically but their intensity level will probably be sky-high.
The Packers come into the Colts game with a 2-2 record. With only receiver Greg Jennings ruled out for the game they are as healthy as they have been all season. Jennings’ absence will mean that the remaining receivers, widely judged to be the best crew in the NFL, will have to pick up the slack. They have done so in the past. The offense can also rely on their newfound ability to reliably run the football, courtesy of one Cedric Benson. Aaron Rodgers should be able to work the ball to his receivers downfield effectively thanks to a vulnerable Colts pass defense. The Packers defense, tested but not bested by Drew Brees and New Orleans last week, will face rookie quarterback Andrew Luck. Veteran safety Charles Woodson has had consistent success playing against rookie quarterbacks. The defense in general has shown a much-improved pass rush. Tackling has also improved. It all adds up to what, at least on paper, seems like a beatdown coming down in Indianapolis this weekend. As long as the Packers don’t play “down” to the level of their opponent, they should come out of this game at 3-2 looking up at Houston next Sunday night.
One interesting news item coming out of Indy is that interim head coach Bruce Arians has expressed concern about how well the Packers fans travel when the Packers are on the road.
This has been illustrated many times over the years. It’s not uncommon to hear chants of “Go Pack GO” and loud cheering for successful Packers plays in road stadiums around the league. Arians probably needs to try to control what he can control. Packer fans travel well. They’ll show up in droves, and they’ll try to take over Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday. Deal with it.
On a personal note, good luck, spirits up, and fight’s on to Chuck Pagano. Your most important fight has just begun, but it’s a fight you can win.