This is a matchup of two teams that won't make the playoffs but feature young (well, sort of) and promising quarterbacks.
The Cleveland Browns got their first win of the season on Sunday as they defeated the Cincinnati Bengals, 34-24.
Quarterback Brandon Weeden has his moments as an NFL rookie where you say, "This guy is going to be really good." Then there are moments that make you say, "At 29 years old, I'm not sure there is enough time for him to really be worth the first-round pick."
For now, this is a mildly dangerous 1-5 team heading into Indianapolis.
The Colts have been on a "win one, then lose one" pattern all season. They followed up an emotional win over the Green Bay Packers with a clunker versus the New York Jets on Sunday. It was disheartening because they should have had more success against the Jets.
Instead of sitting at 3-2 and having the second-best win percentage in the conference, they are 2-3 and lagging behind.
The Colts hope to right the ship in this one.
Here are the particulars on this matchup:
When: October 21, 1 p.m. ET
Where: Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Ind.
Live Stream: DirecTV Sunday Ticket (Pay Service)
Radio: WFNI (AM1070) and WLHK (FM 97.1) in Indianapolis, and WBWR 105.7 FM in Columbus
Spread: Colts (-3), per OddsShark.com
The official injury report hasn't been released for either team at this point. However, we do know Donald Brown of the Colts will still be out after knee surgery, per ESPN.
Expect to see Vick Ballard get his second consecutive start.
Per CBS Sports, these players are listed as injured, but their status is unknown:
10/16/12—RB Trent Richardson (Ribs), Left Week 6 vs. Cincinnati
10/14/12—WR Travis Benjamin (Hamstring), Missed Week 6 vs. Cincinnati
10/14/12—LB Scott Fujita (Shoulder, neck), Missed Week 6 vs. Cincinnati
10/14/12—DB Tashaun Gipson (Knee), Missed Week 6 vs. Cincinnati
10/14/12—WR Mohamed Massaquoi (Hamstring), Missed Week 6 vs. Cincinnati
10/14/12—DB Dimitri Patterson (Ankle), Missed Week 6 vs. Cincinnati
10/14/12—DL Ahtyba Rubin (Calf), Missed Week 6 vs. Cincinnati
10/14/12—LB Pat Angerer (Foot), Missed Week 6 at N.Y. Jets
10/14/12—RB Donald Brown (Knee), Missed Week 6 at N.Y. Jets
10/14/12—LB Robert Mathis (Knee), Missed Week 6 at N.Y. Jets
10/14/12—DL Fili Moala (Knee), Missed Week 6 at N.Y. Jets
10/14/12—DL Cory Redding (Knee), Left Week 6 at N.Y. Jets
10/14/12—DL Martin Tevaseu (Ankle), Missed Week 6 at N.Y. Jets
Fantasy Start 'Em, Sit 'Em and Sleeper
Start 'Em: Andrew Luck and Reggie Wayne
The Cincinnati Bengals' A.J. Green is one of the top three receivers in the league. The seven catches for 135 yards and two touchdowns he put up against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday could be an example of a great player going off.
I think the production is a mixture of Green's amazing talent and the Browns' poor pass defense.
The Browns are ranked 30th in the NFL in passing yards allowed, and I see the combination of Andrew Luck and Reggie Wayne having a nice day in this one. I'd start them for sure.
Sit 'Em: Brandon Weeden and Josh Gordon
Don't get too gassed up on what Brandon Weeden and Josh Gordon did the last two weeks.
Gordon has five receptions for 181 yards and three scores in that time, but the Colts have been solid against the pass. They are ranked third in the NFL in passing yards allowed. I expect to see the Browns pound the ball on the ground in this one.
This is still an inexperienced duo that is depending on the deep ball a ton. I'd sit them both.
Sleeper: Coby Fleener
The Colts tight end hasn't had a really big game yet. He and Luck just missed connecting on what would have been Fleener's first NFL touchdown on Sunday. Something tells me he'll get it against an underwhelming pass defense.
This could be the biggest day of Fleener's young career.
What's At Stake
If the Browns want to add some respectability to this season, stringing two wins together is a great start. They haven't exactly had an easy schedule thus far, but this is about as winnable of a road game as they'll have this season.
If they don't get this one, they may be looking at a winless season on the road.
The Colts have to be holding out hope that the Houston Texans will come back to the pack a bit. By losing to the Jets, they squandered an opportunity to gain a game on the Texans, who were blown out by the Green Bay Packers.
If the Colts want to compete in the AFC South, these are the types of games they have to win.
What They're Saying
Kevin Brown of Colts.com talks about the team's inability to get points after moderate to long drives:
The Colts have scored at least two touchdowns in their first four games but the inability to finish off drives and protect the football limited the Indianapolis offense.
In starting out each half, quarterback Andrew Luck and the Colts offense marched into Jets territory before drives stalled out on what interim head coach/offensive coordinator Bruce Arians called ‘manageable’ third downs.
This type of situation will drive coaches, fans and the Colts defense crazy. It is demoralizing when a team can't convert on third down. The Colts were 3-of-11 in these situations on Sunday. Ouch.
On the Browns side, and away from the field, a little thing called an ownership change officially took place. Jimmy Haslam's purchase of the Browns was approved by the NFL owners, and this, of course, means change.
President Mike Holmgren is out, and will retire at the end of the season, per ClevelandBrowns.com. The new owner seems to have a good understanding of the Browns fanbase and the team's history. He certainly has the endorsement of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
Goody Mob is quoted in the ClevelandBrowns.com article, saying:
I know, from having spent an awful lot of time in Cleveland, there’s a tremendous fan base there, and I know Jimmy understands that and he’s committed to building a franchise that everybody’s going to be proud of.
I think it’s good for Cleveland, but it’s also good for the NFL because he’ll be very active on the league-level matters also.
We'll see if it ultimately turns into more wins on the field for the Browns.
Browns Player To Watch: Joe Haden
He didn't have the best game against Green and the Bengals on Sunday. He won't get much of a break matching up with the veteran Wayne this week.
Haden needs to play better to try to limit the production from the Colts' main passing target. Wayne's 593 receiving yards is more than twice the number of any other Colts receiver.
Colts Player To Watch: Andrew Luck
The No. 1 pick has been more good than bad in his first NFL season, but last week's performance was probably the low point of a promising rookie season. He airmailed a few throws that could have turned the momentum in his team's favor.
Seeing how he responds to that performance is one thing to watch in this game.
Key Matchup: Wayne vs. Haden
If Wayne is allowed to go off in this one, it'll be very difficult for the Browns to keep pace. This offense isn't made to win shootouts just yet, and the Colts defense is solid against aerial attacks.
Wayne has the ability to make big plays and big catches that can stem the tide. Haden should draw the primary responsibility of holding him in check.
I mentioned earlier that the Colts were on a "win one, then lose one" pattern. According to that train of thought, they should win this game. Beyond that simplistic look, they are at home against a poor defensive team, and they'll be looking to rebound from a disappointing performance.
The Colts will win this one, 32-21.
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