Heading into week three, the Colts face, by far, their most difficult opponent. Heading into the City of Brotherly Love to take on the Eagles is no easy task, for any team. This week, though, presents more of a challenge than most. Philadelphia has looked vulnerable over the past two weeks but that was with Nick Foles under center. Against the Colts, Carson Wentz will be starting. Philadelphia does, still have key injuries (Alshon Jeffery) and key suspensions (Timmy Jernigan) but the Eagles’ roster is strong. They’re talented, tenacious, and well coached. The Colts’ ace in the hole will be Frank Reich, due to his knowledge in the system. Still, going into Philadelphia and stealing a win won’t be simple.
DT/DE Denico Autry (Ankle)
OT Anthony Castonzo (Hamstring)
TE Jack Doyle (Hip)
OT/G Denzelle Good (Knee/Wrist)
RB Marlon Mack (Foot/Hamstring)
DT Hassan Ridgeway (Calf)
CB Quincy Wilson (Concussion)
S Clayton Geathers (Knee)
CB Chris Milton (Concussion)
OT/G Denzelle Good (Knee/Wrist)
WR T.Y. Hilton (Quadricep)
RB Christine Michael (Illness)
RB Jay Ajayi (Back)
RB Darren Sproles (Hamstring)
RB Cory Clement
LB Kamu Grugier-Hill
WR Alshon Jeffery (Shoulder)
T Jason Peters (Quadricep)
LB D.J. Alexander (Knee)
LB Nathan Gerry (Groin)
QB Carson Wentz (Knee)
Colts’ Wide Receivers vs Eagles’ Cornerbacks
Of any position on the Eagles’ defense, cornerback is the most exploitable. After allowing the Buccaneers to bomb all over the defense, it is clear that there is room to exploit the secondary. Malcolm Jenkins is an elite safety but aside from him, there isn’t any standout talent. Ronald Darby leads the group; he is the closest corner on the roster to a true number one but has his flaws. Jalen Mills is solid but exploitable and the depth behind him in Sidney Jones and Avonte Maddox is young and inexperienced.
In the short passing game, the Colts have been surgical this year. Leading the NFL in third-down conversion success rate at over 60%, the quick passing game has been a major asset for Frank Reich and Andrew Luck. Using a combination of motion checks and quick route combos such as rubs and crossing patterns, the Colts have been able to tear up underneath coverages. The Colts have gone deep very sparingly but have seen great success when throwing the ball deep. Setting up the deep ball with the short pass could be a key for the Colts in breaking down this elite Philly defensive unit.
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Colts’ Offensive Tackles vs Eagles’ Edge Rushers
Over the first four weeks of the season, the Colts offensive line has faced and will face a gauntlet of defensive lines. First, it was Geno Atkins and the Bengals, then Ryan Kerrigan and the Redskins, now the vaunted Eagles line, and next, the Texans and J.J. Watt. This week, they deal with Brandon Graham and Derek Barnett on the edge. Exacerbating this issue, star left tackle Anthony Castonzo will miss his third game of the season.
Denzelle Good is back in the lineup but the starting tackles will likely remain Joe Haeg and Le’Raven Clark due to their solid play, giving up three sacks in two games. This may be overperformance but both have been fairly solid. Containing Graham one on one just isn’t going to happen. The Colts have to scheme their protection in such a way that allows for them to have a numbers advantage at any moment.
Spotlight Player of the Week: Carson Wentz
The return of Carson Wentz here it tough for the Colts. Under Nick Foles, the Eagles’ offense has been unspectacular. The Colts would certainly be able to compete with that, if not overpower it. Now, though, Carson Wentz brings a whole new dynamic. Wentz was impeccable last season, in the midst of an MVP campaign before an injury. He has elite arm talent and play extension, making him a hassle to defense. Put him against a weak Colts defense and you have a recipe for quite a few points.
This game will be a slugfest between two of the game’s best quarterbacks. Ultimately, Philadelphia’s elite offensive line and defense will help them prevail.
Ben Pfeifer is the Managing Editor of the Colts for Full Press Coverage, the AFC South Division Editor, and head NBA editor. Want to continue the discussion? Contact Ben Pfeifer on Twitter @Ben_Pfeifer_, @FPC_NBA and @FPC_Colts.