Seven Things To Watch For: Falcons at Colts
Seven Things To Watch For: Falcons at Colts
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INDIANAPOLIS – It’s finally time for the 2019 Colts to play in front of the home faithful.
The Colts (1-1) and Falcons (1-1) will meet inside of Lucas Oil Stadium in Week Three.
Here are 7 things to watch for on Sunday afternoon in the 1:00 PM kickoff:
1. Attention For Julio
From a skill position standpoint, you won’t find many (if any) better players the Colts will see in 2019 than Jones.
At 6-3 and 220 pounds, Jones is a stud. And he showed that again in Week Two, with the Falcons coming back to beat the Eagles.
The Colts need to make sure they use proper attention to Jones. That means Malik Hooker knowing where No. 11 is at all times and the entire secondary realizing that Matt Ryan isn’t afraid to throw up the ball to his best receiver no matter what the coverage looks like.
It appears that the Colts will have taller, veteran corner Pierre Desir (knee) in the lineup.
2. Replacing Leonard
Darius Leonard (concussion) is not playing this week.
Leonard ranks right up there as one of the most indispensable players on the roster, and for just about any defender in the NFL.
Rookie Bobby Okereke at the MIKE and Anthony Walker at the WILL is the best guess at how the Colts will look on Sunday.
It’s a huge amount of responsibility on that duo because Leonard has missed just 1 snap this season, and played every single snap in the 11 of 15 games he played in last year. The sample size is small, but the Colts defense has definitely struggled when their All-Pro linebacker hasn’t been on the field.
3. Neutralize Atlanta’s Speed
On paper, there’s a lot of similarities in how the Falcons and Colts wanted to build their respective defenses.
Speed is a common theme.
Atlanta isn’t the biggest defense, especially in the front seven. So you know the Colts will try to assert their physical dominance up front and stay away from the obvious passing situations against one of the league’s better pass defenses through the first two weeks.
4. Adam Vinatieri’s Right Leg
Yes, this is something to watch for a second straight week.
It has to be with Vinatieri starting the 2019 season 3-of-8 on kicks.
Now, the good news for Vinatieri: The Colts have been away from home for their last 5 games, in which Vinny has had these struggles. Last year at home, Vinny was 12-of-15 in field goals and 23-of-25 on extra points.
Frank Reich remains steadfast in his confidence in Vinny, but the team did their due diligence this week in working out kickers, just in case.
Any short-ish miss (or misses) from Vinny on Sunday would likely bring out some rare boo birds for the future Hall of Fame kicker.
5. Chunk Passing Plays
Frank Reich knows the offense must deliver more in the passing game, especially if Marlon Mack (calf) is limited or can’t go on Sunday.
Yes, the run game has been really, really good through two weeks. But that doesn’t mean the passing game should rank 29th in yards per pass play.
Several factors have played into the Colts being more limited in pumping it down the field, but for this offense to evolve, things must open up vertically.
6. Handling A Better Quarterback
Week One brought a Hall of Fame quarterback in Philip Rivers.
Week Two brought a below average starter in Marcus Mariota.
Well, Matt Ryan in Week Three slots in between those two guys.
Defensively, we saw about what you would expect against the likes of Rivers and Mariota.
Ryan has struggled with turnovers early in 2019, but he’s still got a strong pedigree in this league and will be a good challenge with a very talented opposing wideout trio, as well.
7. Protecting Homefield
When the 2019 schedule came out in April, the home games definitely offered a much more manageable slate.
For the Colts to make the playoffs this year, it seems like they will need to go at least 6-2 at home.
The Falcons are one of the more talented teams visiting Lucas Oil Stadium this season, with Matt Ryan’s resume better than any other road QB coming to Indy in 2019.
It’s important for the Colts to build off Week Two and try to play from ahead, record wise, early in the season.
Bowen’s Prediction: Colts, 27-20. With the Colts favored by 1.5 on Sunday, those in Vegas clearly feel that this a pretty even matchup. The (potential) loss of Darius Leonard is massive. Do the Colts have enough linebacker depth to mask this loss a bit and keep a potentially high-powered offense under 30 points? Probably the biggest advantage for the Colts this week comes in the trenches, on both sides of the line. I see the Colts handling that aspect of the game, and that being the difference. But if the Colts can’t win that area, they might be looking at another 1-2 start.