A difficult week for the Indianapolis Colts is about to get even more challenging.
The Green Bay Packers invade Lucas Oil Stadium in Week 5, and the Colts will have to battle more than their emotions if they want to pull off the upset.
Given the way the Packers stomped the Chicago Bears just days after the Bears rolled over the Colts, it's natural to assume Indianapolis has little chance against Green Bay.
While it will certainly be an uphill climb, here is what Indianapolis can do to pull an upset.
Feature Reggie Wayne
Wayne's resurgence has been a bright spot for the Colts early in 2012, and they'll need a huge game out of him to keep the offense moving.
Green Bay has been slack against No. 1 receivers, and corner Tramon Williams has been just mediocre early in the season. Of course, given the way Indianapolis moves Wayne around the formation, there's no telling who will draw the assignment.
Wayne has been much better at finding holes in zones and making plays than Donnie Avery on the other side.
Green Bay is going to put up points, so the Colts must sustain drives with the passing game, and that means Andrew Luck should be looking to Wayne on third downs.
The Packers have an average run defense overall, but are 32nd in the NFL on runs around the left end. Likewise, left end is the only direction Indianapolis has been effective at all running the football.
Anthony Castonzo is the only dependable blocker the Colts have, and the stretch left gives Donald Brown the chance to use his speed out on the edge to find a lane.
It's rare that the Colts ever have a matchup advantage in the run game, but against Green Bay, they may have an exploitable advantage.
Controlling the clock in football is largely overrated except in cases where there is a massive disparity in overall team strength. This is one of those instances.
Green Bay is demonstrably better than the Colts, even given the Packers' early-season inconsistency. The Colts need to limit possessions, which is difficult considering they are a terrible running team.
When a team can't run but needs to control the clock, the solution is high-percentage passing and strategic running.
Give Luck an Out
Anyone who has watched the Colts knows they haven't done a good job in pass protection, but the numbers say they have the sixth-lowest adjusted sack rate.
Why the discrepancy? The answer is Andrew Luck's legs.
The Packers bring a hellacious pass rush lead by Clay Matthews, and on the surface, the Colts are ill-prepared to deal with it.
The only weapon they have against an aggressive pass rush is for Luck to tuck and run. Against a lesser defense, Luck would be better advised to show patience, but pulling the ball down and bolting isn't a bad play against a defense built around the sack.
Dwight Freeney Must Show Up
The Colts are paying $14 million dollars for Dwight Freeney, and so far, they've gotten about eight plays from him.
Now that he's back, we should finally get a glimpse at the exotic looks that were promised in the offseason. The Colts' pass rush has been lackluster, with just seven sacks in three games. Four of those were generated by Robert Mathis, who looks as good as he ever did.
The only chance for the Indy secondary to hold up against the Packers is to force Aaron Rodgers to throw quickly and under duress. Rodgers is going down about four times a game, so he can be had.
The Colts have been the worst team in football in 2nd-and-long situations, in part because their corners are bad and if they don't blitz, they don't get enough pressure on the quarterback.
Freeney has to be the answer for Indianapolis.
Beg the Packers to Run
With Vontae Davis and Justin King both ailing for the Colts, Indianapolis does not want to see Aaron Rodgers drop back 40 times.
They are going to have to play the safeties deep all game and give the Packers as many favorable run looks as possible.
Indy isn't great at stopping the run, but they'd rather see Aaron Rodgers hand off for a six-yard gain than pass for a 15-yard gain. Again, running the ball limits possessions and the shorter the game, the greater the possibility for a Colts upset.
The Colts will be fired up and emotional. Given the difficult news about Chuck Pagano this week, they should be playing with a fine edge.
Unfortunately, those fired up, emotional players will still be the same group who lost to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
This game won't be close. If the Colts can keep it within three touchdowns, they'll be doing well.
Emotion and passion are no substitutes for talent and execution. Green Bay has them. The Colts do not.