When the Cleveland Browns square off against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 3 of the NFL preseason, the focus will be on which AFC team looks more prepared for the regular season.
Cleveland recently named Brandon Weeden its starting quarterback for the regular season, per the Browns’ official Twitter account:
Now the focus will be on how well Weeden plays when put up against the caliber of QB Indianapolis has with Andrew Luck. This will be an intriguing battle with regular-season ramifications.
When: Saturday, August 24 at 7 p.m. ET
Where: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Ind.
Watch: Not nationally televised.
Live Stream: Preseason Live
Listen: Online at NFL Audio Pass
Betting Line (via Covers)
Over/Under: 42.5, Spread: Indianapolis (-2.5)
The key in this preseason matchup will be how well the offensive units play. With neither defense shining too bright thus far in the preseason, Saturday’s game looks to be a lock to go over 42.5 points. The Colts are more explosive and will win by at least three points.
Injury Report (via ESPN)
Barkevious Mingo, LB, Out (bruised lung)
David Nelson, WR, Questionable (knee)
Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, Doubtful (foot)
Kelvin Sheppard, LB, Questionable (foot)
Griff Whalen, WR, Questionable (groin)
Hugh Thornton, G, Questionable (ankle)
Dwayne Allen, TE, Questionable (foot)
Lawrence Sidbury, LB, Questionable (shoulder)
Fili Moala, DE, Probable (knee)
Coby Fleener, TE, Probable (knee)
Browns Player to Watch: Brandon Weeden, QB
Now that Weeden is the unquestioned No. 1 quarterback in Cleveland, how he performs under intense scrutiny as the team prepares for Week 1 will be the focus of the team.
Weeden has a talented offensive coordinator behind him in Norv Turner which should make his job easier. Add in the lackluster play of the Colts’ defense, and this is the second-year quarterback’s chance to shine.
Top wide receiver Josh Gordon will have to serve a two-game suspension to start the season, and the top storyline for the Browns will be centered on which wideout Weeden develops chemistry with. Look for a player like Greg Little to step up and shine bright.
Colts Player to Watch: Andrew Luck, QB
After a stellar freshman season, Andrew Luck has been hard at work trying to develop into a more complete quarterback who can keep the ball out of trouble. Luck will have ample chances to sharpen his game against a tough Cleveland secondary.
While the front seven for the Browns is less than stellar, the secondary led by cornerback Joe Haden will be tough to beat this season. With Haden taking Reggie Wayne out of the equation, how Luck handles the adversity will be a great test for the regular season.
Luck managed an impressive 4,374 yards and 23 touchdowns last season, but his biggest drawback was the 18 interceptions and nine fumbles. The QB has a chance to set the tone for 2013 by not turning the ball over Saturday.
Prediction: Indianapolis 31, Cleveland 21
The starters will have a better chance to shine in Week 3 of the preseason, and fans should expect the best out of both Luck and Weeden Saturday night. These young stars are under immense pressure to perform well this season, and the outcome of this matchup will be a great gauge of where each team is in terms of contending for the playoffs.