Hoosiers are bleeding blue once again this weekend. Sunday’s game at Reliant Stadium against the Houston Texans marks the beginning of a new season and, as Colts fans can attest, an opportunity to return to dominance. Having only missed one playoff of the 21st Century, the Colts are a model franchise. And sports fans of Indianapolis couldn’t be more pleased (considering their once beloved Pacers haven’t made the playoffs since Reggie Miller’s departure).
The Colts embark led by their superstar quarterback and four-time MVP, Peyton Manning, who posted an astonishing 282.2 passing yards per game last season. Unfortunately, this was second only to their week 1 opponent. Texans’ QB Matt Schaub averaged 290.0 passing yards in 2009. Ironically enough, Indianapolis and Houston’s rushing offense were ranked 31st and 30th respectively. But in spite of the high powered passing game the Texans displayed, the Colts bested them in both of their division meetings in 2009, giving them a 15-1 all time record against the club.
But alas, it’s a new year, and new stories are unfolding.
The Colts retain the entirety of their starting offense, even bringing back Wide Receiver Anthony Gonzalez. He spent the entirety of the 2009 season nursing a right knee injury (thus ruining my fantasy football team). The biggest question marks are two of the men assigned to protect Manning. Center Jeff Saturday and Left Tackle Charlie Johnson are hoping to play Sunday, but are listed as questionable. Both linemen missed the entirety of the preseason, poking enormous holes in a wall built to protect that ten-time Pro Bowler lining up behind them. Assuming Johnson can’t play, his replacement will likely be undrafted rookie Jeff Linkenback. Linkenback’s opponent: former number one draft pick from NC State, Mario Williams – no stranger to knocking Peyton to the turf. In fact, four of the Colts’ ten offensive linemen have no NFL game experience whatsoever. And the cherry on the cake, a new offensive line coach, Pete Metzelaars. Pete replaces the recently retired Howard Mudd. But please Colts’ fans don’t fret; it’s beginning to seem the Colts enjoy adding the drama of injury to keep fans on the edge of their seats. If not for injury, we wouldn’t know Wide Receivers Pierre Garcon or Austin Collie or Defensive Backs Melvin Bullitt and Jacob Lacey (pictured left). Perhaps this is a mere chapter in the Colts’ soap opera that ends in a 9th consecutive playoff birth.
Ultimately this particular game Sunday will bring a bountiful reward for fantasy owners (Unless you’re starting either defense). And although it will be something of a shootout, it comes down to which defense can hold their ground better. That’s the Colts.
Parker Stancato Prediction:
Colts 31 — Texans 20