2019 Colts Season Preview: Colts/Falcons, Week 3

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INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts square off with their NFC counterparts in the South division this year, beginning with their 2019 home opener against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 3.

Matt Ryan arrives in Indianapolis flanked by Julio Jones, Devonta Freeman and Atlanta's high-flying offense. The key will be on defense, as both units will have their work cut out for them on this particular afternoon.

BROADCAST INFORMATION

  • Sunday, Sept. 22 at 1 p.m. ET
  • Indianapolis; Lucas Oil Stadium
  • TV: CBS

ALL-TIME SERIES

  • Colts lead, 14-2, and have won four of the last five matchups dating back to 2001.
  • Last game — Week 11 of 2015. Colts won, 24-21.

COACHING STAFF

Colts:

  • HC Frank Reich
  • OC Nick Sirianni
  • DC Matt Eberflus
  • STC Bubba Ventrone

Falcons:

  • HC/DC Dan Quinn
  • OC Dirk Koetter
  • STC Ben Kotwica

KEY NEW FACES

Colts:

  • DE/LB Ben Banogu
  • WR Parris Campbell
  • WR Devin Funchess
  • DE Justin Houston
  • CB Rock Ya-Sin

Falcons:

  • G James Carpenter
  • DE Adrian Clayborn
  • G Chris Lindstrom
  • OT Kaleb McGary
  • TE Luke Stocker

OTHER SIGNIFICANT CHANGES

Colts:

  • Overall, this was a pretty quiet offseason for the Colts for a change. It was about building onto and shaping the current roster rather than shaking things up or making sweeping changes. Former starting receivers Ryan Grant and Dontrelle Inman both departed in free agency, and veterans Mike Mitchell and Al Woods also were not re-signed by the team. Offensive lineman Matt Slauson retired following a 10-year career.

Falcons:

  • Dirk Koetter is replacing Steve Sarkisian as offensive coordinator after Sarkisian was let go following the 2018 season. Koetter was previously Atlanta's offensive coordinator from 2012 to 2014 before taking the head coaching job with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He was also let go this offseason. The Falcons also brought in former Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Mularkey as tight ends coach.
  • Familiar face and former Indiana Hoosier Tevin Coleman is no longer in the Falcons' backfield after signing with the San Francisco 49ers this offseason. It is now Freeman and Ito Smith as the one-two punch at running back.
  • Pro Bowl safety Keanu Neal tore his ACL in the first game of the 2018 regular season, missing the rest of the year. He is expected back and will be bringing his hard-hitting style to the field.

EARLY STORYLINES/THINGS TO WATCH

  • Shootout In "The Luke?" — This is a matchup between two top-10 offenses led by high-level quarterbacks and coordinators. Both signal-callers have a talented group of pass catchers which could lead to a barn-burner in the Colts' home opener.
  • Big Test For Colts' Secondary — Julio Jones is a tall enough order for a secondary, but Calvin Ridley should be expected to be even better than he was in his standout 2018 rookie campaign. Throw in Mohamed Sanu and Austin Hooper, and the Colts defense' will need to bring its "A" game in Week 3.
  • Lightning Fast Defenses — Both of these defenses are built on speed. Like Darius Leonard and Anthony Walker fly around the field for Indy, so do Falcons linebackers Deion Jones and De'Vondre Campbell, as do the lines and secondaries that surround them. Other than special teams, there will be one of the league's fastest, most athletic defenses on the field at all times.
  • Taking Advantage Of Atlanta's Retooled Offensive Line? — The Falcons took drastic measures to fix their offensive line this offseason, and although it took some resources, they picked up good players in the process. They used two first-round picks on guard Chris Lindstrom (No. 14) and tackle Kaleb McGary (No. 31) as well as signing free agent guards James Carpenter and Jamon Brown. The Colts have put a huge premium on their own defensive line, so will they be able to take advantage of Atlanta's work-in-progress front?

INTRIGUING MATCHUPS

  • Colts WR T.Y. Hilton vs. Falcons CB Desmond Trufant — Hilton had a modest performance in this matchup in 2015 with Andrew Luck injured and Matt Hasselbeck in the fold, but it should be much different this time around. Trufant is one of the league's best, most consistent corners — averaging a 75.3 Pro Football Focus grade over his six-year career — so this will be a fun one.
  • Colts IOL vs. Falcons DT Grady Jarrett — Everyone knows about guys like Aaron Donald and Geno Atkins, but Grady Jarrett is in that next group of outstanding three-technique defensive tackles. Luckily for the Colts, they have Quenton Nelson, Ryan Kelly and Mark Glowinski to answer the call.
  • Colts CB Pierre Desir vs. Falcons WR Julio Jones — Jones has made plenty of defenders look like little leaguers throughout his career, but Desir typically steps up to answer the call against opponents' bigger receivers. If Desir steps up in this matchup then he'll be impossible to ignore nationally.

BETTING LINE

RETURNING LEADERS

Colts:

  • Passing — QB Andrew Luck (4,593 yards)
  • Rushing — RB Marlon Mack (908 yards)
  • Receiving — WR T.Y. Hilton (1,270 yards)
  • Touchdowns — TE Eric Ebron (14)
  • Tackles — LB Darius Leonard (163)
  • Sacks — DL Denico Autry (9.0)
  • Interceptions — CB Kenny Moore II (3)

Falcons:

  • Passing — QB Matt Ryan (4,924 yards)
  • Rushing — RB Ito Smith (315 yards)
  • Receiving — WR Julio Jones (1,677 yards)
  • Touchdowns — WR Calvin Ridley (10)
  • Tackles — LB De'Vondre Campbell (94)
  • Sacks — DE Takkarist McKinley (7.0)
  • Interceptions — S Damontae Kazee (7)

COMPARING 2018 STATS

Colts:

  • Total offense — 7th (386.2 YPG)
  • Scoring offense — 5th (27.1 PPG)
  • Passing offense — 6th (278.8 YPG)
  • Sacks allowed — 1st (18)
  • Running offense — 20th (107.4 YPG)
  • Third down offense — 1st (48.6%)
  • Red zone offense — 5th (67.1%)
  • Total defense — 11th (339.4 YPG)
  • Scoring defense — 10th (21.5 PPG)
  • Passing defense — 16th (237.8 YPG)
  • Sacks — Tied-19th (38)
  • Running defense — 8th (101.6 YPG)
  • Third down defense — 23rd (41%)
  • Red zone defense — 11th (55.1%)
  • Time of possession — 18th (30:05)
  • Turnover differential — Tied-13th (2)

Falcons:

  • Total offense — 6th (389.1 YPG)
  • Scoring offense — 10th (25.9 PPG)
  • Passing offense — 4th (290.8 YPG)
  • Sacks allowed — 20th (42)
  • Running offense — 27th (98.3 YPG)
  • Third down offense — 4th (45%)
  • Red zone offense — 10th (64%)
  • Total defense — 28th (384.5 YPG)
  • Scoring defense — 25th (26.4 PPG)
  • Passing defense — 27th (259.6 YPG)
  • Sacks — Tied-22nd (37)
  • Running defense — 25th (124.9 YPG)
  • Third down defense — 31st (49%)
  • Red zone defense — 28th (70.4%)
  • Time of possession — 23rd (29:36)
  • Turnover differential — 18th (+1)

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