Indianapolis Colts @ Green Bay Packers
This is another one of those games that could be a trap.
The Packers are home again, but have an upcoming 3 game road trip on the schedule. The Colts are an inconsistent team, but one that has scary explosive potential; T.Y. Hilton is one of the NFL’s premier deep threats, and Andrew Luck (when healthy) has been the kind of QB who takes hits and extends plays in the way that has gotten players ingrained into NFL lore.
Already in his short career, we’ve seen Luck garner 14 game-winning drives and 10 4th quarter comebacks (including an endlessly impressive 45-44 playoff comeback versus Kansas City in 2013 and a 30-27 victory over these Packers in 2012); other QBs may have better numbers, but the feeling of seeing Luck lined up trying to win the game brings up an innate feeling of inevitability few current players can manage, likely due to his ability to extend plays and strike deep on any given one.
The Colts as a team are pretty boom-or-bust however; Luck may feel like an inevitability at times, but his performances across entire games rarely have been dominant, too often putting his team in the very holes he has had to drag them out of.
The running game, even with the addition of Frank Gore last year, has never been a source of worry for the opposition. His offensive line has never been good either beyond left tackle Anthony Castonzo, and even with drafting a potential long-term answer at center in Ryan Kelly and the ascendence of Jack Mewhort at LG, there’s plenty of work to be done before the unit can be considered serviceable.
Their defense on the other hand may be better than perceived.
The unit has felt like a weak link going back to the Peyton Manning days, but last year it was that side of the ball which ranked well (#10 in Weighted Defensive DVOA) while the offense cratered with and without Luck.
Robert Mathis can still be a pass-rushing force, Vontae Davis is a good cover man on the outside, and multiple guys across the unit simultaneously underwhelm statistically while making key plays at opportune moments.
This would be a great week for the offense to hand the ball off the Lacy and Starks, grind down the clock, and use a good dosage of play-action to exploit the non-Davis back seven players.
The Colts’ offense may have explosive tendencies, but the multiple talents in the Green Bay secondary should be able to do pretty well at preventing monstrous gains by bracketing Hilton with a non-Shields corner (his biggest weaknesses are ones a small, speedy guy like Hilton can take advantage of) and a safety (likely Clinton-Dix).
I’ll be worried of the chance of a comeback until the game ends, but there should be more than enough opportunity for the Packers to put the game out of reach, especially if they take advantage of some early mistakes by Luck.
Green Bay 27
Green Bay Record: 7-1
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