Andrew Luck tries to lead his Indianapolis Colts to his second career victory Sunday against Jacksonville at home in Lucas Oil Stadium. Luck impressed last week in the win over Minnesota, particularly in marching the offense down the field with 30 seconds to go to allow Adam Vinatieri to kick the winning field goal. Luck will need to improve on that performance, but has shown early that he could be a very special player very soon for the Colts. Lucks season numbers so far: 533 yards, 3 touchdowns, 3 interceptions, with a 75.2 passer rating.
Luck, while an (obviously) important story this week, is far from the only story. At half-time tomorrow, the Indianapolis Colts will welcome back former running back Edgerrin James who will be inducted into the Colts Ring of Honor. Every Colts fan knows how crucial Edge was to the teams success in the early Peyton years. And more than one of use feels that, had it not been for a torn ACL in 2001, the imprint he left on the organization could have been a lot bigger than what it is now. But it’s still plenty big. In his Indianapolis years, James rushed for over 9,200 yards, scored 56 touchdowns, caught 356 passes with an additional 11 touchdowns, and was one of the best pass blockers on the team. Unfortunately, James never made it to the Promised Lands with Colts, but was still given a Super Bowl ring in 2006 by Colts owner Jim Irsay in a real class move.
But the past is gone, and the future is now for the Colts. The teams is going to have to figure out how to keep the Jaguars defense away from Luck. The Indy offensive line has struggled mightily so far this season, and has not yet fielded the same group of guys, mostly due to injury. G Joe Reitz is out again this week, and T Winston Justice, recovering from a concussion, is probable after missing last week’s game. C Samson Satele, who went out with a knee injury in the Vikings game, is expected to start. If this unit can finally begin to gel, it could lead the Colts to some surprising performances.
3 Things to Watch
Donnie Avery -Avery has managed to make himself a key player in the Colts offense. In the Bears loss, he caught Andrew Luck’s lone touchdown pass, and in the Vikings game managed to catch a team-high 9 passes for 111 yards. With Austin Collie still questionable from his latest concussion, and Reggie Wayne drawing a lot of attention, look for Avery to put up some decent receiving numbers again against the Jags.
Andrew Luck – After the loss to Chicago, most analysts and bloggers (such as myself) pointed out how eerily similar Luck’s numbers were to those of Peyton Manning’s in his first game. But, like I predicted in my week 2 preview, Luck improved greatly in week 2, totally blowing away Manning’s week 2 effort in 1998. I don’t know that we will necessarily see another huge leap forward this early in the season, but anything’s possible.
The Colts D – If you’ve followed the NFL at all in the past few years, you know the kind of damage Maurice Jones-Drew has done to the Indianapolis defense. The 2012 incarnation of the Colts D is surrendering 104.5 yards per game on the ground, and has allowed 3 total rushing touchdowns in 2 games. Jones-Drew in two games is averaging 4.4 yard per carry and has amassed 137 yards. The Colts defense last week was able to contain Adrian Peterson; this week will be another indicator of their progress.
My 5 Predictions
Luck – I’m going to go with a similar stat line as I did last week – 60% completions, 275 yards, 2 touchdowns, no interceptions.
Indy tight ends – I expect the wide-outs to get a lot of attention by the defense. Tight ends Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen will reap the benefits – they combine for 12 receptions for 100 yards and a touchdown.
Jones-Drew – Even with the new defensive scheme, OLB Dwight Freeney is still nursing an ankle injury and could miss a second consecutive game, and Pat Angerer is still out with a broken foot. Jones-Drew goes nuts for the first time this year: 25 carries, 140 yards, 2 touchdowns.
The Colts O-line – They’re going to struggle again this week. Not necessarily because of anything specific they are doing wrong, but because there is no cohesiveness to build upon. because of that, the run game suffers, and therefore the offense as a whole suffers. The big guys will give up another 3 sacks to Jacksonville.
Final Score – This could be the last Indianapolis win for a while, Colts fans. Enjoy it – Indy takes it 27-23.
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