On Sunday afternoon, the 0-5 Indianapolis Colts travel to Cincinnati to take on the surprising 3-2 Bengals. While neither team's record may truly describe the team that they have, this is going to be a battle of two teams who have a lot of inexperience on offense.
While the Colts team has been looking better and better with the adversity they are facing, the fact that they do not show up in the fourth quarter is starting to become similarly to the play of one LeBron James. Each of the past two weeks have been games that the Colts are in position to win late, but they just could not finish and hold on.
My personal stock in Jim Caldwell may be down, but the fact that he is a good coach is clear. There are enough veteran guys, along with this coaching staff who are tired of losing and tired of being in a place the Colts haven't seen in the past ten years, a five game losing streak.
Looking ahead to Sunday's matchup, it is a very winnable game for the Indianapolis Colts. While it will not be a popular win in the "Suck for Luck" followers, it will be a credit to a lot of people stepping up.
In the first two games Curtis Painter has started off having a great first half, playing within himself and connecting with Pierre Garcon for four touchdowns. We should start to ignore the second half when Painter has played where his completion percentage is well below 50 percent and the offense collapses.
This trend, however, is a thing of the past all thanks to one man, Peyton Manning.
Painter has one of the greatest, if not the greatest, offensive minds in football on his sideline watching the game and in the film room with him. There is a larger sample now of what Painter is doing, and I feel that with a whole week of preparation this week we will see a different quarterback.
Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark have been somewhat non-existent in the offense as of late with Painter's connection with Garcon, but we can look to see these two make an impact in this game.
While the Bengals' pass defense is third in the NFL, they haven't faced a test of wide receivers like the Colts can throw at them. They have played against four run oriented teams, but to their credit they did shut down the Bills and their high powered offense.
Overall, I feel that the Bengals will try to bring a lot of pressure at Curtis, and our receivers will have the opportunity for some one-on-one matchups to expose this defense.
Once upon a time, the Colts drafted a first-round running back by the name of Donald Brown. A majority of Colts fans thought that he would take over for an under-producing Joseph Addai, and we saw glimpses of just that.
Brown has young, fresh legs which would come in and bring a spark to the game, whether in the pass or run game.
Come back to present time and Brown seems to be locked in the doghouse for unknown reasons. While the Colts have the third worst run offense in the NFL this season, they keep feeding the now injured Joseph Addai carries and have moved rookie Delone Carter ahead of Brown on the depth chart.
Thankfully on Sunday the Colts fans got to see a look at this caged beast, who carried the ball eight times for 38 yards. While they aren't the flashiest numbers, they were his first carries of the season and he did show the ability to break away with a 16-yard run.
Brown has the opportunity Sunday to come in and find the hole while the Colts are obviously in a passing mentality moving forward. While the Bengals have some skilled linebackers, the power running of Brown could be what the Colts need to get a run game going that can pick up short yardage downs.
It will be interesting to see if Caldwell will continue to give him carries or if he just locks him up back on the sideline.
The play of the dynamic duo of Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis has been remarkable again this season. Their motors are constantly on high when they are on the field and have even made noticeable strides in their run stopping.
Combined this year, the two have eight sacks and three forced fumbles, which is quite the pace for how poor this team has performed.
The Colts will need these two on top of their game on Sunday, something which we know they will be. The Bengals have a young offensive line, protecting the rookie quarterback they drafted in the second round Andy Dalton.
The Bengals have yet to face any pass-rush that can only send four and rush the quarterback into bad decisions.
On the other side of this, the Colts need these two on top of their game to help the linebackers stay focused on stopping Cedric Benson and the run game. While the undersized linebackers fit the Tampa 2 defense, they have constantly been beaten up on the ground by opposing teams.
This year is no different, with the Colts ranking second to last in this category, giving up 145 yards a game.
For the Colts to be successful on Sunday, it will all start up front with the two Pro-Bowl defensive ends. The two of them will combine for three sacks on Sunday with a forced fumble leading this defense to their best performance of the year.
There have been few receivers, minus Megatron, in the past two weeks who have put up the performances that Pierre Garcon has given the Colts. This once shaky receiver from Haiti had gone in and out of graces from Manning's precious targets has a new confidence that is showing on the field.
While Wayne and Clark will continue to get the coverage from opposing defenses, Garcon is taking the five yards they give him and turns it into a long run after catch with a one way ticket to pay dirt. The way that Garcon turns on his speed is amazing to watch, and it looks straight out of a video game.
With the improvements to Painter at quarterback, he is finding even more ways to help his receivers get wide open. I know most of you saw the long throw to Garcon, but the pump fake before the throw made that coverage non-existent, making it a pitch and catch for a touchdown.
Looking ahead to Sunday, I do not know if the Bengals have enough weapons in their secondary to stop all the threats that the Colts will throw at them, which means that there very well could be another opening for Garcon to make all Colts fans celebrate when the former Mount Union star crosses the goal line for six.