When I think of this weekend's matchup between the Indianapolis Colts (5-0) and St. Louis Rams (0-6), the boxing term “Puncher's Chance” comes to mind. “Puncher's Chance” is used when one fighter is significantly better than the other, and the only chance the weaker fighter has to win is if he connects with a lucky punch and knocks out the highly skilled fighter. In looking at the records of each team, I was wondering if the Rams had a “Puncher's Chance” to actually win this game. But then I realized that if the Rams were characterized as a fighter based upon their performance this year, they would be a boxer that didn't have any arms. So even in boxing terms, it doesn't look as though the Rams have a prayer to beat the Colts on Sunday. All kidding aside, looking at the stats and records of each team, this game looks like a huge mismatch. However, taking the term “Any Given Sunday” into consideration, let's take a look at the matchup from each team's point of view, on both sides of the ball.
Rams Offense (27th in total offense, last in points per game, 23rd in passing, 17th in rushing)
Colts Defense (7th in total defense, 2nd in points allowed per game, 9th in passing defense, 14th in rushing defense)
I think I'm going to compare talking about the Rams offense with spraying cologne on a giant turd. No matter how good you try and make the offense seem (cologne), it's still going to be a giant turd (turd). The Rams offense has been enemic, and I'm putting that nicely, so far this season. The St. Louis Rams have scored 54 points this season. To put into perspective how bad they've been, the New England Patriots last week scored 52 points in the first half, in the snow I might add, against the Tennessee Titans. (I think we should call them the Tennessee Quitans because they've already “quit” on their coach, but I digress.) The only bright spot for the Rams offense so far has been running back Steven Jackson; he's rushed for 501 yards and is averaging 4.2 yards a carry. But even this bright spot has a black stain on it; Jackson has yet to score a touchdown this season. As far as the quarterback position is concerned, it doesn't matter if it's Marc Bulger or Kyle Boller at the helm, the ball is not going to be moved through the air. Both of them have combined to throw for 5 TD's this season, did I mention that Drew Brees threw for at least that many TD's in the first game of the season? (Sorry St. Louis fans, but I gotta call em' like I see em') Moving over to the other side of the ball, the Indianapolis Colts defense has played really well so far. The defense is 7th in the NFL in total defense and 2nd in points allowed per game. The Colts defense is not a very intimidating one, they play a cover two scheme which keeps everything in front. So in essence, they are a bend but don't brake style of defense. This has worked for them so far, a lof of their opponents' drives have ended in field goals and they've haven't allowed many big plays. The Colts' two standouts on defense so far have been defensive ends Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis. They've combined for 10 sacks so far; with Freeney having 6 and Mathis having 4. The Colts passing defense has been stellar so far, their rushing defense however has been suspect at times. In two games against premiere running backs they've struggled. (Maurice Jones-Drew of the Jaguars in week one had 90+ yards with 1TD and Ronnie Brown of the Dolphins in week 2 had 130+ yards with 2TD's) In going against the Rams, they're playing against another stud running back in Steven Jackson. I feel that one of these days, Jackson's going to have a breakout game where he gets 150 yards and 2 or 3 touchdowns. Will it be this week? Time will tell. (Huge tease I know, but I'll give my opinion in the prediction)
Colts offense (3rd in total offense, 5th in points per game, 1st in passing, 29th in rushing)
Rams defense (30th in total defense, 30th in points allowed per game, 27th in passing defense, 26th in rushing defense)
Besides Drew Brees, is there anybody in the National Football League that's playing better than Peyton Manning. I know they call Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols “The Machine,” but I think that Peyton should take that nickname. Manning is averaging 320 yards per game through the air and right now he's on pace to break Dan Marino's all time record for passing yards in a season. (Marino 5,084, Manning on pace for 5,216 yards) Going into the season, people wondered who Peyton was going to throw the ball to, being that the Colts let go of Marvin “Desert Eagle” Harrison. Then when number two receiver Anthony Gonzalez went down with an injury in week one, the questions doubled. Those questions apparently angered Peyton Manning, and you won't like Peyton when he's angry. So far this season he's made fantasy studs out of receiver Reggie Wayne and tight end Dallas Clark. I know that because Dallas Clark is on my fantasy team (go me!). Manning's also made unknowns Pierre Garcon (torched the Dolphins in week two) and Austin Collie (2nd on the team with 3 TD receptions) relevant. For as good as the Colts have been passing the ball, the rushing attack has not been great. Running backs Joseph Addai and rooke Donald Brown have only combined for 78.8 yards a game, which is 29th in the league. If a defense were to ever stop the Colts' passing attack, they might be in trouble. Lucky for them, this week won't be the week. The Rams defense so far this year has struggled, really struggled. The standout for them defensively has been rookie James Laurenitis, who leads the team in tackles and has 2 INT's. What's bad about that statistic is that Laurenitis has more interceptions than any cornerback on the Rams (ut-oh!). The best thing that the Rams' defense does right now is defend against the run, (Hey I know it's 26th in the league, but give them something already!!!!) but lucky for them (SARCASM!) the Colts won't be doing any of that (ut-oh!).
Indianapolis Colts (-13) 30
St. Louis Rams 10
The only way the Rams have a shot in this game (besides if Peyton Manning loses his right arm, Dwight Freeney misses his flight, or if the whole Colts team got Swine Flu) is if they control the clock with Steven Jackson and keep the Colts offense off of the field. For this to occur Jackson has to have a mammoth day. However, seeing how the season has gone for him and the offense so far, I don't see it happening. Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne and company will pick apart the St. Louis secondary and put up a lot of yards and points. Then, once the Colts jump out to a lead, Freeney and Mathis can pin back their ears and reak havoc on whoever the QB is for the Rams. In addition, Bob Sanders is back this week for the Colts, like they need anymore playmakers. This means it will be harder for the Rams to control the clock by running the ball because Bob Sanders is one of the best safeties in the league at playing against the run. I don't see this one being close at all, Colts win big and go to 6-0.
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Written by Andrew Gifford