OK Indianapolis sports fans, its Friday, its rainy out and by the looks of things it wont be getting much better. So let us transport ourselves in mind and spirit to somewhere warm and sunny like I don’t know Glendale, Arizona, where the Indianapolis Colts will be this Sunday night taking on the Cardinals of the NFL. The Colts will look to stay undefeated against a 1-1 Arizona team that was last year’s Super Bowl runners-up.
When the two starting quarterbacks are named Peyton Manning and Kurt Warner you can expect to see a lot of pigskin flying through the air. The two signal-callers are ranked second and third respectively in career QB passer rating, Manning 94.7 and Warner 93.8. The two also go second and third in career completion percentage, this time Warner with the edge, 65.5 to Peyton’s 64.5.
The similarities don’t end just with the teams having two of the league’s best signal-callers. Both squads are known more for their aerial attacks rather than their running game. That being said, the Cardinal’s second year back Tim Hightower is a versatile back who can run hard and catch a bunch of quick passes out of the backfield. Indianapolis‘ running game is very much still a work in progress. With no defined roles as to who is the featured back, Joseph Addai and Donald Brown will most likely share the hand-offs. Donald Brown saw most of the fourth quarter action during the few plays the Horseshoes had on offense last week against Miami, so pay attention and see if this is a recurring theme.
Yet another area where both teams lead the league is the wideout position. Arizona has the slight advantage with Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin, who are both legitimate #1 receivers, and Steve Breaston who would be a one or a two most other places. With Anthony Gonzalez still out due to sprained knee ligaments, Indiana‘s favorite receiver Reggie Wayne will most likely see double-teams all day long. With extra help on Reggie, watch for Dallas Clark to have another big day down the middle of the field. Dallas is coming off of a record setting performance last week against the Dolphins in which he caught seven passes for 183 yards and a touchdown. Those 183 yards are the most ever by a Colts tightend.
Donald Brown was not the only new Circle City hero to emerge last week in Miami. The Flying Frenchman Pierre Garcon, scored his first NFL touchdown late in the fourth quarter to give Indy the lead for good. First year receiver Austin Collier had a big third down reception late in the final frame to extend the Colts winning drive as well. As the season progresses look for Peyton’s confidence to grow in these two receivers. When it does, corners all over the league are going to lose a lot of sleep.
On the defensive side of the ball neither team stops the run all that well. This should not be a huge problem for either side because the air-attack is where most plays will be called. If the Colts can protect against the deep ball and force Warner to throw short routes, Indianapolis’ speedy linebackers should be able to handle the task.
Our prediction is that we don’t know. It is too early in the season to know if Arizona is for real or not. Their week one lose to San Fransisco showed a team that might be feeling a Super Bowl losers hangover, but last week they handled the same Jacksonville Jaguars team that pushed Indy to the limit in their home opener at Lucas Oil Stadium. That said, Manning already seems to be in mid-season form and his game management has never looked better. While this has all the makings of a good old western shootout, my advice to you is bet on blue. Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis will apply enough pressure on Warner to force the old man into a few turnovers that will help the Colts go 3-0.
Check back Monday morning for the Colts week 3 wrap up.