Colts Try to Put the Brakes on Brady

Facing a healthy Tom Brady in January often spells disaster for AFC foes

Facing a healthy Tom Brady in January often spells disaster for AFC foes

By Ian Stone:

After upsetting the Denver Broncos, the Colts will look to do so again as they head to New England to take on the Patriots. The Pats were nearly beaten by a surging Ravens offense a week ago, and will be tested once again by Andrew Luck and his high-powered offensive attack.

The Patriots seem destined to make it to the Super Bowl once again and it’s hard to see the young and inexperienced Luck getting in their way. The former number 1 overall pick has gone 0-3 against the Pats in his career, losing by a combined score of 144-66 in those contests. The two teams only met once this season, and the Colts lost 42-20 at home as Jonas Gray rushed for 214 yards and 4 TDs. Expect to see a similar outcome in the final score, but the means of scoring should differ greatly.

The Colts defense finished the season ranked 18th in allowing 113.4 rushing yards per game, and the Pats should be able to run them into the ground. Earlier in the season, Gray exploded in a breakout performance, but his role has been reduced significantly since that Week 11 meeting. LeGarrette Blount has begun to receive more of a workload, and should be able to find the end zone, in addition to around 50 rushing yards.

As for the passing game, Indy was more successful in giving up just 229.3 passing yards per game this season, ranking 12th in the category. However, Tom Brady’s postseason experience should allow him to find success against this difficult opponent.

Expect Brady to overcome this tough matchup through use of his TE Rob Gronkowski, as well as his lesser targets in Brandon LaFell, Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola. Gronk should be a lock for at least 10 targets, turning that into 90-100 yards and at least 1 touchdown.

In addition to Gronk, hopefully Amendola can keep up his high level of play as he erupted for 81 yards and 2 TDs on 5 receptions in last week’s victory. He should see plenty of action in slot routes across the middle, and secure at least a few catches for around 40-60 yards. QB Tom Brady should turn in another solid performance of at least 300 yards and 2-3 TDs in an easy win.

The toughest part for the Patriots will be limiting Andrew Luck and company, as their defense was not too good against the pass this season. New England finished the season ranked 17th in allowing 239.8 passing yards per contest, and they will really have to be on their game to slow down the Colts. Luck has solid targets in Reggie Wayne, T.Y. Hilton, Dwayne Allen, Hakeem Nicks, and former college teammate Coby Fleener at his disposal, and it will be more than difficult to shut them all down at once.

Luck has shown the ability to extend plays outside the pocket with his legs, so New England will have to be diligent in its approach to stopping them even after it seems as if the play is over. The Colts have been pretty successful in running the ball through use of tailback Boom Herron, and they will also have to try and limit his impact, as he gets it done when it counts. The Patriots ranked 9th this year in allowing 104.3 rushing yards per game, and should be able to limit his effectiveness.

Expect Andrew Luck to have a solid game in terms of yards and touchdowns, but to also turn the ball over a couple times in a hostile Foxborough environment, against a well-experienced Patriots football team.

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Patriots vs Colts Preview

Luck needs to have his best game of the season to beat the Pats

Luck needs to play his best game of the season to beat the Pats

The Patriots and Colts showdown this week comes as a pleasant surprise as many football fans feared the days of the Pats and Colts playoff battles were over after Peyton Manning departed for Denver two seasons ago. In steps Andrew Luck, and the rivalry may still be alive. A great game this week could renew the classic Colts and Patriots  rivalry for years to come.

Andrew Luck has been working wonders with a very pedestrian team all year and Tom Brady has willed his injury-plagued team to an impressive 12-4 season.  Neither team has elite offensive or defensive weapons so this game could very well come down to which all-star quarterback has a better game or which kicker has ice in his veins.

Obviously Luck and Brady are not playing directly against each other and how well both teams run the ball and get pressure on the opposing quarterback will play a big role in this game. Let’s take a look at both teams game plans and see who has the best chance to win this game

Patriots Game Plan

On offense, the Patriots will try to establish a run game and have Tom Brady dink and dunk his way down the field with what’s left of his receiving core. They will feature LeGarrette Blount in the run game and a combination of Shane Vereen, Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola in the passing game. If they can in fact run the ball well, the Pats shouldn’t have any problems putting up enough points to win.

On defense, the Patriots will try to eliminate the big plays from T.Y. Hilton and shut down Coby Fleener at tight end. If they can do this, the Colts will have a real hard time keeping up with Brady and company and Luck might have a few turnovers which would likely prove detrimental to his team.

Colts Game Plan

On offense, the Colts will likely try to take advantage of all the Patriots injuries to their front seven and run more than normal. If they can have some success in the run game, Luck should be able to move the chains and make enough plays with his arm and his feet to keep the Colts in the game.

On defense, the Colts will try to stop the run and put Brady in long third down situations so they can let Robert Mathis pin his ears back and get after the Brady. Look for the Pats to chip Mathis with an extra tight end or running back on passing plays.

At the end of the day, a game plan is only as good as the coaches who put it together and the players executing the plan on the field. Given the fact that the Patriots are playing at home and have arguably one of the best coaches and quarterbacks of all time, it’s hard to argue that the Colts have any sort of edge coming into this game. The Colts barely squeaked by a Chiefs team that lost key players at almost every position during the Wild Card game and gave up 44 points to what was left of the Chiefs offense.

The Colts time will come soon enough but all signs point towards the Patriots winning this one at home and setting up another classic rivalry Manning – Brady duel in Denver against the Broncos…… assuming Denver can beat the Chargers on Sunday night.

 

 

Wild-Card Weekend – Colts vs. Chiefs

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This Colts team only seems to play well at home in the dome

Wild-Card weekend is here and it’s one of the best weekends of the NFL season. Football fans get to sleep in and watch football all day Saturday and Sunday.  Let’s take a look at some of the key factors and who has the edge in the Chiefs at Colts match-up.

Chiefs Year in Review

Both the Colts and the Chiefs have had their ups and downs this year.  The Chiefs were the last undefeated team in the NFL as they raced off to a surprising 9 – 0 start. They were led by Jamaal Charls and their stellar defense early in the year but they came down to earth after they got hit with the injury bug and played a few quality opponents.  After their impressive 9 – 0 start, the Chiefs finished the year 2 – 5 in their last seven games including a 23 – 7 loss at home to the Colts in Week 16.

Colts Year in Review

The Colts have had probably the most up and down season of any playoff team. The Colts seem to play up or down to their competition beating arguably the best three teams in the NFL (Denver, Seattle and San Francisco) but losing at home to Miami and St. Louis.

Many experts gave the Colts a slim chance to make a run in the playoffs once Reggie Wayne was lost for the year but the Colts have finished the year strong surrendering just 20 points combined in their last three games.

Who has the edge?

All signs point towards Indy winning this game.  No matter what way you slice it, Indy appears to have the edge.  For starters, they are playing at home. When two teams are evenly matched, odds strongly suggest taking the home team.  At full strength these teams are evenly matched but the Chiefs are far from playing at full strength with Tamba Hali (questionable, knee) and Justin Houston (probable, elbow) nowhere near 100 percent.

With the Chiefs two best pass rushers likely being ineffective, it could be a long day for the Chiefs secondary that relies heavily on man coverage. The Chiefs have also struggled stopping the run all year and with injuries and match-ups considered, the Colts offense has an edge over the Chiefs defense.

When looking at the Chiefs offense against the Colts defense, there is only one thing to discuss and that’s whether or not the Colts can slow down Jamaal Charls.  The Chiefs don’t take deep shots down the field and they don’t have any offensive weapons to speak of not named Jamaal Charls.  Charls led the Chiefs in rushing attempts, rushing yards, rushing touchdowns, receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. He might need back surgery after carrying the Chiefs offense on his back the entire season.

If the Colts can somewhat slow down Charls and  get an early lead, they can let their pass rushers get to work and force Alex Smith to beat them with his arm on the road in a hostile environment.  With only one weapon to prepare for, the Colds defense should have the edge over the Chiefs offense.

It should be a great game but with Indy playing their last game of the year at Lucas Oil Stadium, it will be hard for the Chiefs to overcome Indy’s electric crowd and deny Andrew Luck of his first playoff win. If the Colts can eliminate turnovers on offense and create a few on defense, they will likely be taking on the Patriots or Broncos next weekend.

 

 

Wild-Card Weekend – Colts vs. Chiefs

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This Colts team only seems to play well at home in the dome

Wild-Card weekend is here and it’s one of the best weekends of the NFL season. Football fans get to sleep in and watch football all day Saturday and Sunday.  Let’s take a look at some of the key factors and who has the edge in the Chiefs at Colts match-up.

Chiefs Year in Review

Both the Colts and the Chiefs have had their ups and downs this year.  The Chiefs were the last undefeated team in the NFL as they raced off to a surprising 9 – 0 start. They were led by Jamaal Charls and their stellar defense early in the year but they came down to earth after they got hit with the injury bug and played a few quality opponents.  After their impressive 9 – 0 start, the Chiefs finished the year 2 – 5 in their last seven games including a 23 – 7 loss at home to the Colts in Week 16.

Colts Year in Review

The Colts have had probably the most up and down season of any playoff team. The Colts seem to play up or down to their competition beating arguably the best three teams in the NFL (Denver, Seattle and San Francisco) but losing at home to Miami and St. Louis.

Many experts gave the Colts a slim chance to make a run in the playoffs once Reggie Wayne was lost for the year but the Colts have finished the year strong surrendering just 20 points combined in their last three games.

Who has the edge?

All signs point towards Indy winning this game.  No matter what way you slice it, Indy appears to have the edge.  For starters, they are playing at home. When two teams are evenly matched, odds strongly suggest taking the home team.  At full strength these teams are evenly matched but the Chiefs are far from playing at full strength with Tamba Hali (questionable, knee) and Justin Houston (probable, elbow) nowhere near 100 percent.

With the Chiefs two best pass rushers likely being ineffective, it could be a long day for the Chiefs secondary that relies heavily on man coverage. The Chiefs have also struggled stopping the run all year and with injuries and match-ups considered, the Colts offense has an edge over the Chiefs defense.

When looking at the Chiefs offense against the Colts defense, there is only one thing to discuss and that’s whether or not the Colts can slow down Jamaal Charls.  The Chiefs don’t take deep shots down the field and they don’t have any offensive weapons to speak of not named Jamaal Charls.  Charls led the Chiefs in rushing attempts, rushing yards, rushing touchdowns, receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. He might need back surgery after carrying the Chiefs offense on his back the entire season.

If the Colts can somewhat slow down Charls and  get an early lead, they can let their pass rushers get to work and force Alex Smith to beat them with his arm on the road in a hostile environment.  With only one weapon to prepare for, the Colds defense should have the edge over the Chiefs offense.

It should be a great game but with Indy playing their last game of the year at Lucas Oil Stadium, it will be hard for the Chiefs to overcome Indy’s electric crowd and deny Andrew Luck of his first playoff win. If the Colts can eliminate turnovers on offense and create a few on defense, they will likely be taking on the Patriots or Broncos next weekend.

 

 

Week 17 Running Back Sit and Start Report

Donald Brown could have a banner day against the Jags defense

Donald Brown could have a banner day against the Jags defense

Although most fantasy leagues have come to a close, some of them ride the season out to its very end. With those leagues, owners should be mindful of who they plug in at the running back position for this week. The following players should either be started or avoided based on an in depth examination of their contest.

Start:

Donald Brown, IND:

Brown has overtaken Trent Richardson for the starting job and has produced convincingly enough to keep the position. Coming off a stellar 110 total yard and 2 total touchdown performance against Kansas City, he will look to continue his momentum against a vulnerable Jags run defense.

The Jaguars have shown little resistance to the run, allowing a horrific 135.2 rushing yards per game, ranking them 30th. Expect Donald Brown to rack up a ton of yards while carving this abysmal Jacksonville rush defense to shreds this Sunday, while possibly scoring a touchdown or two in the process.

Sit:

Frank Gore, SF:

The San Francisco back had another solid year and has already found success against Arizona earlier in the season, but don’t expect that success to continue. Gore rushed for more than 100 yards at home against the Cardinals in Week 6, but that still stands as the only game where Arizona has failed to limit an opponent’s leading rusher to below that total.

The Cards are hot, riding a 3 game winning streak and their defense is strong, especially their rush defense. Arizona allows an average of 84.5 rushing yards per contest, ranking them first in the league. Expect them to contain Frank Gore at home in Sunday’s game.

 

 

Steer Clear of Donald Brown Against the Chiefs

Colts running back Donald Brown was back participating in drills at Fridays practice. Brown left Sundays contest against Houston after dealing with severe neck pain. His participation on Friday bodes well for his chances to start on Sunday vs. Kansas City.

The 5th year back out of Connecticut has clearly been the more trusted option in the Colts backfield all year. Even after the addition of Trent Richardson, Brown has shown he is invaluable to the team because of his knowledge and comfort in the offense.

Starting the former Husky in your fantasy lineup will still be a risky move this week. There is a chance he can re-tweak his neck while getting run down by one of the league’s best defenses. The Chiefs have not been quite as stout against the run lately allowing almost 120 rush yards per game over their last 6 games, but are very capable of clamping down at any point in time.

Trent Richardson has been getting a better feel for the offense and filled in admirably for brown last week gaining 64 yards on 19 carries. He also contributed in the pass game, he was targeted 6 times catching 4 of them for 38 yards and a touchdown.

We may see more of Richardson’s involvement in the offense Week 16 even if Brown does get the start.

Brown is no more than a marginal flex start Week 16 vs. The Chiefs.

NFL Week 14 Running Back Sit and Start Report

RAMS-MURRAY-COVER

Murray should have no problems running right through the Bears defense

With Week 14 finally here, many fantasy leagues have begun playoff competition. To keep your dreams of a fantasy title alive, check out this week’s best and worst plays at the running back position. Congratulations on making it this far and good luck in Week 14!

Start:

DeMarco Murray, Dallas Cowboys – Coming off a huge Thanksgiving game against the Raiders in which he scored three times, DeMarco Murray now gets a very favorable matchup against the Chicago Bears in Week 14. The Bears have been awful against the run all year, giving up an average of 153.6 yards per game on the ground. The Bears have also surrendered 10 rushing touchdowns in their last 7 games. Murray may not score three times again, but look for him to hit pay dirt at least once against the horrible Bears D.

Eddie Lacy, Green Bay Packers – While Aaron Rodgers has been out, Eddie Lacy has begun to struggle against the 8 man fronts teams have been employing in the star QB’s absence. However, Lacy may get back to his scoring ways this week against the Atlanta Falcons. Last week, CJ Spiller and Fred Jackson ran wild against this struggling unit which has surrendered a rushing touchdown in 5 of its last 6 games. Expect Lacy to do much of the same this week.

Sit:

Rashad Jennings, Oakland Raiders – Since taking over the starting running back duties from Darren McFadden, Jennings has been a solid fantasy performer, scoring in double digits for five straight weeks. However, that streak is about to come to a screeching halt on Sunday. Not even a lock to play this week as he has yet to pass all concussion tests, Jennings has a tough matchup against a Jets defense which has been dominant against the run all season long. Don’t expect much this week.

Trent Richardson/Donald Brown, Indianapolis Colts – Both Colts running backs make the list this week as neither should be started. While Richardson has been one of fantasy’s biggest busts, teams are still starting him (57% in NFL.com leagues). He should be an obvious sit by now. Donald Brown, now the team’s starter, may also struggle this week against a Bengals team which has been great against the run at home. The Bengals haven’t allowed a rushing touchdown since Week 3, and Brown is not the guy to end that streak.

NFL Week 14 Wide Receiver Sit and Start Report

Bowe has a great Week 14 matchup against a porous Redskins defense

Bowe has a great Week 14 matchup against a porous Redskins defense

Week 14 is upon us and most fantasy leagues are likely beginning their playoffs. It is now more important than ever to make sure you get your matchups right. In today’s pass-happy NFL, receivers now have the ability to post huge numbers.

Start:

Dwayne Bowe- Kansas City Chiefs receiver Dwayne Bowe has not been having an eye-opening season, however, his Week 14 fantasy matchup makes him a favorable starter. The Chiefs will travel to Washington to take on a struggling Redskins secondary, which is allowing an average of 265.2 yards per game through the air. Fantasy owners can expect a lot of targets for Bowe on Sunday.

Harry Douglas- Ever since fellow receiver Julio Jones’ season ending injury, Harry Douglas has been an every week fantasy starter. Douglas has 50 receptions and three 100+ yard receiving games since stepping in for Jones. The Falcons will be taking on the struggling Green Bay Packers on Sunday, a team who’s pass defense ranks 11th worst in the NFL. Keep Douglas in a starting role in Week 14.

Sit:

T.Y. Hilton- Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton started the season off as one of the hotter receivers in the league, recording four 100+ yard receiving games through the first 10 games. However, Hilton has slowed down as of late, not eclipsing the 50-yard receiving mark in each of his last three games. His matchup is again less than favorable, as the Colts will be taking on the league’s 8th best pass defense in the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. Sit Hilton in Week 14.

Michael Crabtree- San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree was one of the hottest names after last season. Unfortunately due to a torn Achilles in the off-season, Crabtree has not been able to make an appearance until last week. When healthy, Crabtree is a must start, however given the circumstances and the opponent, the Seattle Seahawks, fantasy owners should look else where for receiver help.

NFL Week 13 Wide Receiver Sleeper Report

Titans Justin Hunter could have a solid outing against the Colts

Titans wideout Justin Hunter could have a solid outing against the Colts

For Week 13, a couple of wide receivers stand out in having big game potential. With the slew of injuries and disappointing wide receivers that fantasy owners have had to deal with, these sleepers could come in and provide a spark for teams lacking stability at the position.

1. Donnie Avery, KC:

Avery should succeed in Kansas City’s contest with the abysmal Denver Broncos pass defense. The game looks like it will shape up to be a high scoring shootout, with all receivers involved racking up big numbers. Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith should look to Avery as Denver will have to focus on standout running back Jamaal Charles, as well as wide receiver Dwayne Bowe. Avery is coming off a 4/91/1 line and should carry his momentum through to this week’s game.

2. Justin Hunter, TEN:

Hunter had a lackluster rookie season thus far minus a few bright spots, including last week’s strong performance against the Oakland Raiders. Hunter is the riskiest of these 3 sleepers. but has earned himself a spot on this list after bringing in six catches for 109 yards and a touchdown while only playing 41 of 81 offensive snaps.

Titans coach Mike Munchak stated that Hunter has earned himself more playing time, which should help him to produce heavily more often. The 22-year-old wideout will look to keep the ball rolling against a struggling Indianapolis defense.

3. Anquan Boldin, SF:

Boldin may seem like a sleeper to most due to his inconsistent play this season, but he should be a no-brainer for fantasy owners. The 49ers are facing off against the St. Louis Rams, which gives a solid advantage to Anquan Boldin and the rest of their receiving corps.

The Rams rank 21th in allowing 247 passing yards per game. Boldin should take advantage of that accordingly. He should be seeing a lot of targets and hopefully will be able to extend his two game touchdown streak.

Week 13 Running Back Sit and Start Report

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Donald Brown should run all over the Titans run defense

Week 13 is here and that means the last week of the fantasy regular season for most owners. If you’re one win away from that last playoff spot, every roster decision is extremely important. Check out this week’s sit/start report for the running back position.

Start:

Andre Brown, New York Giants – Since coming back from injury in Week 10, Andre Brown has absolutely dominated the touches out of the New York Giants backfield. He’s racked up at least 93 total yards during each of his three games since coming back and has rushed for 100 or more yards in two of the three. With the Giants facing the Washington Redskins this week, Brown may have his best matchup yet. The Redskins have surrendered the most rushing touchdowns in the league and give up the third most fantasy points to opposing running backs. Start the Giants workhorse back with confidence this week.

Donald Brown, Indianapolis Colts – With Trent Richardson competing with Ray Rice as fantasy’s biggest bust, Donald Brown has become a decent fantasy play when the matchup is right. That is the case this week as the Colts take on the Tennessee Titans. When the two teams faced off back in Week 11, Brown turned in his most productive fantasy performance of the season, posting 94 total yards and two touchdowns. Look for Brown to come close to these totals once again against a team that ranks in the bottom half of the league against the run.

Sit:

Lamar Miller, Miami Dolphins – While Miller may finally get his chance due to Daniel Thomas’s recent injury, this is not the week to take a chance with Miller. Facing the NFL’s number one ranked rush defense, Miller is going to have a tough time finding any success against the New York Jets this week. Add that to the fact that the Jets play much better at home, and you have a recipe for disaster for Miami’s rushing attack on Sunday.

Bobby Rainey, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – The clock struck midnight for Bobby Rainey’s Cinderella story last week and the matchup gets even tougher this week against the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers give up a measly 81 yards a game on the ground and have given up only 1 rushing touchdown in the past seven weeks. Don’t expect much from Rainey against one of the NFL’s best front sevens.