Sunday November 7th, 2010 4:15 PM EST
Line: Philadelphia -3
The 5-2 Colts still remain the standard in the AFC South. The pressure has been intensified with the Titans' acquisition of Randy Moss, but Peyton Manning’s only focus is the task at hand. This week, that task happens to be the 4-3 Philadelphia Eagles, who are looking to put some heat on the New York Giants in the NFC East race.
Keys to the Game
Mike Vick is back in action, which completely alters the way the Colts would approach this game if Kevin Kolb were under center. The Colts have been firm against the pass this season, but how they will handle a scrambling quarterback is yet to be seen.
The Colts will do well to constantly spy Vick. They have very adept linebackers, but none who can compete with Vick’s raw speed. If the Colts don’t stress containment, Vick is going to run rampant.
Dallas Clark and Joseph Addai are out, but Peyton Manning will always be Peyton Manning. In Indy, Manning is everything. He is the most innovative quarterback in the NFL and knows more about opposing defenses than they know about themselves.
Who covers on Sunday?
Philadelphia gives up 206.1 yards per game through the air. Manning has thrown 15 touchdowns and only two interceptions all season long. He is on track for his fifth NFL MVP award and will take advantage of the Eagles, regardless of who his weapons are. The absence of one player spells an opportunity for another to come in and make something happen.
Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney are ferocious and aggressive, two characteristics they need to avoid at all costs on Sunday. The Eagles love to get the ball to LeSean McCoy on screens and get Vick out in space. By staying home and being patient, Mathis and Freeney will find themselves in the play more often than not. The Colts need to seal the edges with their defensive ends and avoid over-pursuit at all costs. Dare Vick to throw the ball in the pocket, as he is much more dangerous when he is improvising.
Mike Hart could find himself on Peyton Manning’s good side. Hart finishes all of his runs, runs downhill and sticks his nose in blitz pick-ups when he needs to. He is a key contributor to the Manning offense and can help the Colts be better on the ground.
Several times in their win against Houston, Manning audibled to a run, including one fourth-down run in particular. Hart is gaining Manning’s respect, which could lead to big-time numbers.
Addai is out, but he was struggling despite being injured. This could be Mike Hart’s time to shine.
DeSean Jackson is back from the concussion injury he sustained against Atlanta. Jackson is one of the most feared deep threats in the NFL and will make it tough for the Colts to keep an eye on Vick at all times while keeping Jackson in front of them.
Jackson stretches the entire field and makes opposing defenses spread out. This opens up big-play potential for Michael Vick, who has made a career out of running the ball on broken plays.
The Eagles have done considerably well without Jackson, but will need to be at full strength when they take on the Colts.
I will take Peyton Manning and the Colts +3 against just about anyone. The Eagles have received far too much praise, simply because Vick and Jackson are coming back and they are coming off a bye week. Vick looked great against Detroit and Jacksonville. Let’s see what he can do in a shootout with the Sheriff.
Free NFL Pick: Indianapolis +3