The Philadelphia Eagles (1-0) bring their high-octane offense to Lucas Oil Stadium on Monday night as the Colts (0-1) look to bounce back from an opening week loss in Denver.
Let’s just pull off the band-aid and get it over with. The Colts – despite some late-game heroics – looked awful Sunday night. The play calling was suspect at best in key situations. The running game was a non-factor. And as far as the defense is concerned – it looked like Manning was playing against the practice squad in the first half.
Now, the Colts must face off with the Eagles in another prime time match-up. During the Manning-era, the Colts typically looked unstoppable in prime time games. But, since Pagano and Luck took the reins – not so much. Maybe the lights are too bright for this young team, but in the past five prime time games (including playoffs) the Colts have been outscored 104-44 in the first half.
The Eagles come to town with tons of momentum. Despite being down 17-0 to Jacksonville at halftime last week, their offense, led by QB Nick Foles, eventually caught fire and scored 34 second-half points and cruised to victory.
Honestly, I have no idea what to expect Monday night. In their opening games, the Eagles and Colts were trailing by a combined score of 41-7 at halftime but rallied and outscored their opponents 51-7 in the second half. Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde were out in full force.
Let’s be honest – there’s no way the Colts will jump out to a 17-0 lead against the Eagles – not as long as Pep Hamilton is calling the plays. For the Colts to jump out to a fast start Pep must abandon the run game – leave T-Rich and Bradshaw on the sidelines – and allow Luck to play out of the shotgun and go 5-wide with Wayne, Hilton, Nicks, Allen & Whalen. Richardson & Bradshaw combined for 35 yards on 9 carries against Denver. It is safe to assume that had Luck thrown on those running plays we would have gained more than 35 yards – and probably would have won the game. Do we even need to run the ball when we have as talented a receiving core as we have this year? My guess is no.
Also, based on how the Colts D performed – it is also safe to assume Luck will need to put up at least 30 points to have a shot against the Eagles. The Eagles averaged 27.6 points per game last year and scored 30+ in six of those games which could spell doomsday for the men in Blue.
The key to a Colts victory will be to limit offensive touches for the Eagles. If they run 70+ plays this could be a laugher in favor of the team from the city of Brotherly Love. But, if the Colts can score points early on and the defense generates some turnovers and can limit 3rd down conversions for Philly then it should be a barn-burner and the team with the last possession will win the game.
Prediction: Despite their abysmal effort for much of the game against Denver, I believe the Colts will not disappoint in their home opener. I envision Luck hitting Hilton or Nicks on a deep TD to start the game and the Colts D comes up big when it matters in the final minutes.
Colts 34, Eagles 31