The Colts did something in week one that it seems they never do; they lost. The Houston Texans were 1-15 against Indianapolis entering last Sunday's contest and reversed their fortunes with a 34-24 victory over the defending AFC and AFC South champions.
Peyton Manning is 9-4 all-time in week one games after Sunday's contest but some were predicting that a Colts' loss was eminent. Whether you predicted it or not (it surprised me like Cristal Taylor surprised Dirk) the Colts have some major issues on defense and pass protection problems on offense.
The Colts' rush defense surrendered 257 yards on the ground, 231 of which were gained by Arian Foster on 33 carries. A repeat performance against the New York Giants could spell an 0-2 start for a team that has had seven straight season of 12 victories or more.
Unlike many in the Bleacher Report community, I'm not pushing the panic button just yet. Does anyone remember Week 13 of the 2006 season? The Colts allowed 375 yards rushing at the hands of the Jacksonville Jaguars. The following week against the Bengals, they allowed a mere 133 yards.
Just because the Colts are dreadful one week doesn't mean they will be nearly as bad the next. Here are 10 things to look for in the second edition of the "Manning Bowl".
As you can see in the photo above the Houston Texans were more often than not, draped all over Peyton Manning. Whether you blame the pass protection or simply credit the talent of Houston's front four, the Colts face a talented pass rush this week and Indy cannot win with No.18 on his back.
Last week’s loss could largely be attributed to the defense of the Colts but Indy’s pass protection was less efficient than Matt Millen on draft day
The Texans sacked Manning twice, hit him 10 times and hurried him several more. Injuries and other factors have left Manning with a makeshift offensive line which resulted in hurried throws and/or nasty hits on the four-time MVP.
The Giants recorded four sacks and 10 quarterback hits against the Panthers in week one. Peyton’s quick release allowed him to rack up yards last week but with Osi Umenyiora, Justin Tuck and company waiting in the wings, Indy could face another uphill battle.
The spotlight in this game is obviously on the two brothers but it could potentially come down to the two defenses. The rush defense last week for the Colts was like a good episode of Jersey Shore, nonexistent.
If the Giants run for 200 yards or more against the Colts on Sunday night, it is more than likely Indy will be looking at an 0-2 hole. The Colts' only hope is to either tackle better or generate that lethal pass rush fans of Indianapolis are more than familiar with.
If Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw get going on Sunday night, New York could find themselves keeping pace with the Pro Bowl laden offense on the other side.
Let's see if the dynamic duo and the Giants can do some fist pumping of their own.
Eli Manning threw for 263 yards, completed 30-of-40 pass attempts with three touchdowns and three interceptions in a 31-18 win over the Carolina Panthers. Not horrible statistics when you consider the touchdown passes but the three interceptions should be a major concern for New York fans entering Sunday night's game.
That many mistakes can still translate into a win against Carolina but Indianapolis is an entirely different beast to tame. If Eli makes that many mistakes against the Colts, his brother will capitalize on those turnovers and turn those interceptions into touchdowns.
I expect Eli to take less risks against the Colts than he did in week one against the Panthers. I also expect Tom Coughlin and crew to attempt to establish the running game against the floundering rush defense of the Colts.
Both Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney recorded sacks against Houston in week one but a more consistent pass rush will be required against the Giants.
Eli Manning had a lot more time against the Panthers who felt the free agent departure of Julius Peppers (so did the Detroit Lions) recording only one sack as a team. The Colts didn't do much better, only sacking Texan quarterback Matt Schuab the two times I mentioned.
Eli is not a mobile quarterback, nor does he play well in the face of pressure. If the Colts can generate a pass rush, the defense will fair much better this week then last.
Dallas Clark creates more match-up problems than Lady Gaga makes (horrible) wardrobe changes. He is the definition of a receiving tight end. If you put on a linebacker on him, he'll outrun the guy. If you put a corner on him, he'll out muscle him. If you put a safety on him, well I guess we'll see how that works out on Sunday night.
Giants' safety Kenny Phillips should see plenty of one-on-one time with Mr. Clark and unless he can contain him, Clark could be in for another big day. Last week he caught 11 passes for 80 yards and a touchdown pass, as a fantasy owner I hope for repeat numbers.
Clark is coming off 100 catches, 1.106 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2009. After week one he is well on his way to replicating 2009 in 2010.
Hakeem Nicks had a career day against the Panthers' secondary last week and looked like Eli Manning's new favorite target. Nicks scored three times on four catches for 75 yards.
The trio of Nicks, Mario Manningham (four catches, 85 yards in week one) and Steve Smith (107 catches, 1,220 yards and seven touchdowns in 2009) will create problems for the Colts' secondary.
Indy had bigger problems with the run last week than the pass but with Eli and this group, it may turn out to be just the opposite. Kelvin Hayden and the rest of this secondary will need to be more physical with these wide outs and bump them off the line.
The first five yards should be bump city, if not the Colts are in for another long day.
Reggie Wayne and Austin Collie had a field day against the Houston Texans in week one. Collie had a career day catching 11 passes, 163 yards and one touchdown. Wayne had seven catches for 99 yards and a touchdown.
As a defensive coordinator scheming against the Colts' wide receivers, you have to pick your poison. If you decide to take away Wayne and Dallas Clark, you have to deal with Collie, Pierre Garcon and Anthony Gonzalez. Last year that choice proved to be of deadly consequence, even if defenses never really shut down either Wayne or Clark.
Defending the Colts' offense is like defending a dominant scorer in the NBA, you'll never shut them down completely, you simply try to slow them down and limit the damage. That's the Giants' strategy this week; a consistent pass rush and limiting big plays.
It's time to address the elephant in the room: The Colts' rush defense was horrible in week one. You know it, I know it and the Giants are more than aware that the Texans racked up more rushing yards than Antonio Cromartie has children.
If the Colts' D were a book it would be entitled,"The Great Gap-sby." Betty White could have gained 100 yards last week behind that offensive line and against this rush defense. OK, enough with the pop culture references, the point is the Colts have to cut down on mistakes and play better defense.
The Texans wore the Colts down in week one, rendering the pass rush useless. Indy's defense is built on speed, leans on speedy pass rushers and requires smaller, quicker players. Which means when they're confronted with a big and physical opponent, they often struggle tremendously.
Although week one was horrible, I promise you the Colts will be better and there is no way the Giants rush the ball 42 times like the Texans and rush for that type of yardage. The Giants aren't that team anymore, they are a pass first offense and I expect that to fall right into the hands of Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis.
Trivia question of the week: When was the last time prior to Sunday's 433 yard outburst against Houston, did Peyton Manning throw for more than 400 yards? It depends on if you mean during regular season play or postseason play. The last time he threw for over 400 yards in the playoffs was on Jan. 13, 2008 against the San Diego Chargers but the last time he did it in the regular season?
On Dec. 5, 2004 in a 51-24 rout of the Tennessee Titans, Peyton threw for 425 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. Manning threw a lot last year, 571 times to be exact but had the third lowest yards per completion average (10.8) in his career. Why? Because he was more accurate, more methodical and the Colts had no running game.
Indy has no running game this year either but the difference is the Colts' defense is up to their old tricks again, they couldn't stop the run if you paid them (oh, wait...they do, do that don't they?). If Peyton has to keep pace like he used to years ago, we might see even bigger numbers out of the future Hall of Fame inductee.
Will he throw for 40+ touchdowns this year? I don't know but it looks like he might dwarf the 4,500 yards he passed for last year and Dan Marino's mark of 5,084 yards, the most ever in a single season, could be in jeopardy. I'm not sure what that means for the Colts' championship hopes but it sure could be fun to watch.
I know it was just one game and that he may throw for 265 this week but if things continue about the way they are currently and a perfect storm occurs, it would not surprise me if Manning broke another passing mark this year.
Prior to my comments on the running game for the Colts I would just like to take a moment and compliment Joseph Addai on that excellently ferocious beard of his. I tip my cap to you kind sir, I hope the stunning beard translates into stunning performances on the field.
Now on a more serious note, Joseph Addai didn't look bad this past week. He was only allotted 10 rushing attempts because the Colts were playing from behind from the get-go but 44 yards, including a 17-yard scamper, gives me room for optimism.
As long as the Colts defense can find a way to keep the score within reason and closer than screaming distance (Colts' fans know what I'm talking about) the running game could actually provide some balance to this pass heavy offense. Addai is very skilled and multidimensional, if he and potentially Donald Brown can produce as he did last week, the Colts can right the ship.
Oh and Joseph, kudos once again on that beard.