After a dirty trick which sees Halloween fall on a Saturday this year– giving kids ALL DAY to drag their less than enthused parents around the neighborhood for free candy, which will just promote quicker tooth decay, ultimately causing more visits to the dentist– Sunday brings you a treat of your own. The Indianapolis Colts are coming home to Lucas Oil Stadium to take on the San Fransisco 49ers at 1:00 p.m. After nearly a month off from playing in downtown Indianapolis, the Colts kick off a three game home stand.
This Week 8 game features two former #1 overall draft picks taking the snaps for their respective teams. Alex Smith, who San Fransisco took #1 in the 2005 draft, has struggled from the word go out in the Bay Area. While his counterpart Peyton Manning, #1 in the 1998 draft, doesn’t seem to know what the word struggle means this season.
Under the eerie gaze that made him such a frightful sight during his playing days in Chicago, head coach Mike Singletary and the 49ers got off to an impressive 3-1 start this season. But in a league that is all about what have you done lately, San Fransisco has stumbled recently, losing their last two games. While quarterback Shaun Hill had started every game up until this week, Singletary felt it time for a change.
After being down 21-0 at halftime against the Houston Texans last week, Smith was inserted into the game and nearly brought the 49ers all the way back, only to throw an INT on their last drive in a 24-21 losing effort. The head coach liked enough of what he saw and has tabbed the former #1 as the starting quarterback this week in Indianapolis.
What a way to be welcomed back into the starter’s position. Congratulations Alex you’re a starter again, now try and avoid Dwight Freeney, Robert Mathis and the rest of the Colts ninth-ranked overall defense. In what maybe his final chance to prove he is not a total bust, we will see if Alex Smith is the real deal or the human equivalent of pyrite…fool’s gold.
If San Fran is to have any chance to keep up with the Blue Horseshoes this week in Indy, they will have to rely heavily on the running of Frank Gore and tight end Vernon Davis. While the fourth-year Davis is emerging as one of the better tight ends in the NFL and is said to have a great report with Smith, the Indianapolis Colts defense has been clamping down on opposing TEs all year long, so Davis might be a wash this week.
The 49ers defense is middle of the road as shown by their 14th overall ranking. However, they are a better run stopping defense than passing defense. When the opposing offensive assault goes aerial, San Fransisco ranks as the 21st defense in the league, allowing an average of 236 yards per game through the air. I’m thinking #18 for the Colts likes this, I’m thinking he likes this a lot.
Now for the Colts.
The Circle City‘s favorite Indianapolis sports franchise will look to extend their undefeated record for this season to 7-0 on Sunday. With Peyton Manning looking better than he ever has before, which is saying a lot about the man, it is hard to get nervous about any game where the Indianapolis Colts are not playing a team with a winning record. Even if the 49ers make this a close game, their is just a feeling around all of Indiana that Manning & Co. will guide us on to victory. Pretty soon the state motto will stop being the Hoosier State and start reading “In Peyton We Trust.”
In no way am I saying that this week’s game will resemble last week’s laugher of win over the St. Louis Rams, but if it does, there will still be plenty of subplots to keep your eyes on.
First, try to pay attention to just how healthy the Indianapolis Colts are. While wide receiver Reggie Wayne and running back Donald Brown are scheduled to play this week, both suffered injuries in last week’s game that side-lined them for part and most of the game respectively. Second, after seeing his first action all year against the Rams, the Colts starting safety and emotional leader Bob Sanders will be making a consecutive start for the first time in what seems like forever. Sanders was on a play count last week which limited his play time, lets see if coach Jim Caldwell lets loose the reigns on Sunday.
Watching Peyton and his receivers go to work is a joy few football fans enjoy as much as Colts fans, but this week there are added questions. As mentioned before, the 49ers have a possible star in the making in their tight end Vernon Davis. Well the Colts already have a super-nova status tight end in Dallas Clark who might just want to show V. Davis what it is to be the best of the best.
Second year wide out Pierre Garcon had a tough game last week in which not too many things went his way. It will be interesting to see if Manning tries to help Garcon forget his faux pas of the past week by looking to him often, or if he will give the newbie time to work out the kinks on the practice field. Rookie wide receiver Austin Collie has been all over the field these past few weeks and is turning into a legitimate slot receiver. Peyton must be loving the fact that he now has an additional threat across the middle when Clark is being doubled.
My prediction this week, as it’s been every week so far, is that you have to go with the hot hand. Until someone can find a way to stop Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts there is no reason to pick against them. This game is the poster child for what all teams hope for when drafting a QB #1 overall (Peyton Manning) and what most teams actually get picking a QB #1 overall (Alex Smith.) While Manning has turned the Indianapolis Colts into one of the NFL’s premier teams for the past decade, the 49ers are just another example of a team that has been handicapped by pouring millions of dollars into an unproven player in the hopes that he pans out.
The Colts win by double digits and Peyton starts a new 300+ yards per game streak.
WAIT THERE”S MORE!!!
This week’s visit from the 49ers to Indianapolis marks the first time San Fransisco has played pigskin in Indy since the Thanksgiving game in November of 2001 when then Colts head coach Jim Mora…..well had a few thoughts about the Colts potential playoff chances. What ensued has become one of the greatest soundbites in the history of sports. Take a bow Jim, take a bow.
|Although Jim Mora will forever be known best for his playoff rant, Tony Dungy has often credited Mora for putting in place the pieces that turned the Colts into a Championship caliber team.|
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