While the prospect of Warner and Peyton Manning battling it out will be great TV, I really like the Colts' defense to bounce back this week.
The Colts are built to face teams like Arizona.
Let's focus on the defense first.
How can a defense bounce back after the shellacking they took against the Dolphins?
The Colts will be facing a Cardinal team currently ranked 25th in the league in rushing. The Cardinals are averaging a mere 79 yards per game. They are a face first (then second, then third) offense and running the ball isn't exactly their focus. When the Cardinals do run, they only get 3.5 yards per carry.
The Cardinals will live and die by the pass. That just happens to be the Colts' defense's specialty.
The Colts are leading the league in passing yards allowed. A 26 yard gain is the longest passing play the Colts have allowed so far, also best in the league, and they have yet to allow a touchdown pass.
All this, even with Tim Jennings involved.
Yes, I know the arguments against these facts.
The Colts play soft coverage. Defense backs seem to stay seven yards off their receivers. Jennings is usually somewhere in the next area code. But, the Colts don't give up any big plays. Even with the cushion, the Colts are only allowing a 59 percent completion percentage.
Granted, the Colts have great stats because Jacksonville and Miami ran the ball. However, Jacksonville actually passed more than they ran, and Miami put the ball in the air 33 times. 61 passes have been thrown when the Colts defense is on the field, and they have only given up 278 yards.
That's barely 4.5 yards an attempt.
Remember, this is a Colts' passing defense that sent an NFL record for the lowest number of touchdown passes allowed: six. That's less than one for every two games played.
Sure, they annoy you with their ability to play six yards off on third and five, but there's no denying that the Colts play well against the pass.
Warner, Fitzgerald, and company may not have the field day you expect.
So, what about the Colts' offense? How will it stack up to the Cardinals’ defense?
The Cardinals' defense is currently fifth in rushing yards allowed. That's a stout defense, and I'm sure the numbers will be just as good after the Colts' game since the Colts simply don't run the ball.
The Colts are 29th in the league in rushing. They don't run the ball particularly well, but they also don't try particularly often.
The Colts' strength, like the Cardinals, is passing. The Colts are third in passing, and Manning is second in passer rating, only behind the Saints' Drew Brees. Despite being 25th in attempts, the Colts are averaging nearly 300 yards per game passing.
Opposite them will be a Cardinal defense that gives up over 230 yards in the air per game, which gets them no better than 18th in the league. These mediocre stats were compiled against the aerial circuses of San Francisco and Jacksonville. Those aren't exactly pass heavy teams.
Make no mistake about it, the Cardinals are a strong team, but their one weakness is going against the Colts' strength.
While the casual NFL fan will tune in to see two of the league's better passers dual it out, the teams' fans will know this game will be won by whichever defense can slow the other's passing attack down the most.
The Colts clearly have the edge there.
Now, if I could only convince Jennings the game is actually in Indianapolis...
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