2020 Colts Preview: Colts/Bears, Week 4

Fresh off their second convincing win in a row, the Indianapolis Colts (2-1) on Sunday travel to take on the undefeated Chicago Bears (3-0) at Soldier Field. Check out the official game preview.

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INDIANAPOLIS — Can the Indianapolis Colts make it three in a row?

After a second straight dominating performance to earn win No. 2 on the year last Sunday against the New York Jets, the Indianapolis Colts (2-1) next hit Interstate 65 North to take on the undefeated Chicago Bears (3-0) this Sunday at Soldier Field.

Kickoff is at 4:25 p.m. ET.

The Colts set the tone early and often in last Sunday's 36-7 home victory over the New York Jets (0-3), as cornerback Xavier Rhodes picked off quarterback Sam Darnold's second pass attempt of the day and returned it 44 yards for a touchdown, the first of two pick-sixes by the Indy defense; cornerback T.J. Carrie would also have one late in the third quarter to put the game out of reach. Rhodes would add another interception in the end zone in the second quarter, and on Wednesday was named the AFC's Defensive Player of the Week. Philip Rivers had an efficient day moving the ball for the Colts' offense, meanwhile, completing 17-of-21 pass attempts for 217 yards and a touchdown for a quarterback rating of 125.6.

The Bears, meanwhile, were able to earn their third straight win to open the season last Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons — but it sure wasn't easy. Chicago trailed Atlanta by 16 points, 26-10, at the 9:58 mark of the third quarter, which was when Bears head coach Matt Nagy elected to make a sudden change at quarterback, benching starter Mitchell Trubisky in favor of veteran Nick Foles. Foles responded by completing 16-of-29 passes for 188 yards with three touchdowns to one interception the rest of the way, and the inspired Bears would erase a 16-point deficit in the final 6 1/2 minutes of the game to escape with a 30-26 win.

So what all should we be looking for when this thing kicks off? Here is the official game preview.

BROADCAST INFORMATION

  • Sunday, Oct. 4, at 4:25 p.m. ET
  • Chicago; Soldier Field
  • TV: CBS — Greg Gumbel (play-by-play), Rich Gannon (color) and Jay Feely (sideline)
  • Radio: ESPN Radio — Sean Kelley (play-by-play), Ben Hartsock (color)
  • Colts Official App (*Geographic and device restrictions apply. Local & primetime games only. Data charges may apply.)
  • Colts.com mobile website (Safari browser ONLY)
  • Yahoo! Sports mobile browser or app
  • Click here for MORE WAYS TO WATCH.
  • To find out what games will be on in your area, click here.
  • Local radio: Colts games can be heard in Indianapolis on 93.5, 107.5 and 1070 The Fan and 97.1 HANK FM, plus the desktop version of Colts.com with Matt Taylor (play-by-play), Rick Venturi (color), Larra Overton (sideline) and Bill Brooks (pregame/postgame analyst) on the call.
  • National radio: Fans can listen to the live local call on Colts.com (desktop only) and NFL Game Pass. Get your free seven-day trial by clicking here.

*Please check your local TV listing to confirm availability. iOS mobile web and app users should "Allow Location Access" (via Settings > Privacy > Location Services > Safari).

ALL-TIME SERIES

  • Colts lead, 24-19; Colts are 12-10 all-time against the Bears on the road.
  • Last game — Week 5 of 2016; Colts won, 29-23, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis

COACHING STAFF

Colts:

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

Bears:

  • HC Matt Nagy
  • OC Bill Lazor
  • DC Chuck Pagano
  • STC Chris Tabor

LAST WEEK

Colts:

  • Won vs. New York Jets (0-3), 36-7

Bears:

  • Won at Atlanta Falcons (0-3), 30-26

INJURY UPDATE

Colts:

  • OUT — CB T.J. Carrie; WR Michael Pittman Jr.
  • DOUBTFUL — N/A
  • QUESTIONABLE — N/A

Click here to read more on the injury report for Sunday's game.

Bears:

  • OUT — N/A
  • DOUBTFUL — DB Sherrick McManis
  • QUESTIONABLE — LB Khalil Mack; LB Josh Woods

STORYLINES/THINGS TO WATCH

  • Nick Foles gets the start at QB — Despite starting the season off with two wins, the Bears decided to make a sudden change at quarterback in the middle of last week's Week 3 matchup against the Falcons, moving from Mitchell Trubisky — who had completed 59.3 percent of his passes for 560 yards with six touchdowns to three interceptions on the year to that point — to veteran Nick Foles. Trailing by 16 points, 26-10, at the 9:58 mark of the third quarter, Foles would lead the Bears all the way back, and his 28-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Anthony Miller with 1:53 remaining would give Chicago the 30-26 come-from-behind win. Bears head coach Matt Nagy earlier this week officially named Foles — who completed 16-of-29 passes for 188 yards and three touchdowns to one interception against the Falcons — his starter moving forward. Fortunately for the Colts, they have plenty of familiarity with Foles. Head coach Frank Reich served as the Philadelphia Eagles' offensive coordinator the year Foles, replacing an injured Carson Wentz, led the team to victory in Super Bowl LII over the New England Patriots. The Colts also took on Foles last year when he was the Jacksonville Jaguars' starting quarterback Week 11 in Lucas Oil Stadium; while Foles had a solid performance, completing 33-of-47 passes for 296 yards with two touchdowns to one interception, Indy was able to come away with a relatively easy 33-13 victory. The Colts' defense, particularly its back end, will need to be on point in this one, as Foles isn't afraid to test things down the field; if Indy can limit Chicago's running attack, however, it can make things much easier on itself.
  • Chuck Pagano's defense — The Bears' defense is led by none other than Chuck Pagano, who, of course, was the Colts' head coach from 2012 through 2017, guiding the team to a 56-46 overall record (including the postseason). Pagano, who is in his second season as Chicago's defensive coordinator, employs the same 3-4 base defense that he utilized with the Colts, and has all sorts of stars he can lean on throughout the unit, including edge rusher Khalil Mack, defensive lineman Akiem Hicks, linebacker Roquan Smith, cornerback Kyle Fuller and safeties Tashaun Gipson and Eddie Jackson. The Bears' defense to this point of the season has mostly been about mediocre in most statistical categories ranking 15th in the league in total defense, including 17th in both passing and rushing defense, but has thrived in crucial situations; Chicago ranks second in the league in third-down defense and ranks third in red zone defense. Wide receiver T.Y. Hilton, who played for six seasons under Pagano and knows his defensive schemes well, laid out what he's expecting on Sunday. "They disguise a lot of stuff," Hilton said. "They play some man, they play some zone — a lot of zone — but they like to get up in your face and get physical and let their pass rushers get home. We just have to play all-around Colts football on offense and we'll be fine."
  • Put 'em away — The Colts the last two weeks have done a quality job getting out to sizable leads on their opponents and then not providing them any sort of daylight to possibly sneak back into the game. This will be huge in Sunday's game against the Bears, who have been a scrappy bunch to get two of their first three wins this season, becoming the first team in NFL history to come back and win two games in which they've trailed by at least 16 points in the fourth quarter. In Week 1, the Bears trailed the Detroit Lions 23-6 in the fourth quarter before getting three touchdown passes from Trubisky to earn a 27-23 come-from-behind win. Last week, as mentioned, it was Foles tossing three touchdown passes in the final six minutes and 20 seconds of the fourth quarter to turn a 26-10 deficit into a 30-26 win against the Falcons. The Colts absolutely cannot get comfortable if they jump out to a lead on Sunday, even if they're up by two or three scores in the fourth quarter; they must keep their foot on the gas in all three phases to ensure the Bears aren't able to continue making comeback history in this one.

INTRIGUING MATCHUPS

  • Colts RT Braden Smith vs. Bears EDGE Khalil Mack — The third-year Colts right tackle will mostly be responsible for keeping Mack, the 2016 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, in check throughout this one. Mack this season is off to a little bit of a slow start by his standards, with 12 tackles (one for a loss) with 1.5 sacks, three quarterback hits and one fumble recovery, but he's liable to take over a game at any time, and is still averaging an elite 90.9 pass-rushing grade from Pro Football Focus through the first three games. Smith, meanwhile, rebounded from a tough Week 2 outing against the Minnesota Vikings, when he was called for two penalties, to put in a solid outing last Sunday against the New York Jets. But this should be his toughest task yet.
  • Colts WR T.Y. Hilton vs. Bears CB Kyle Fuller — Just like Mack for the Bears' defense, Hilton is bound to break out for the Colts' offense at some point, and he's hoping it's against his former head coach on Sunday at Soldier Field. While Hilton has certainly produced to this point of the year, with 10 receptions for 133 yards and eight first downs to his credit, he's hoping to reach back to 2016 and his only other career appearance against the Bears, when he hauled in 10 receptions for 171 yards and a touchdown. But no defensive coordinator knows Hilton better than Chuck Pagano, so Fuller & Co. will be tasked with trying to ensure that breakout doesn't happen. The two-time Pro Bowler Fuller has one interception and four passes defensed so far this season, and is sporting a solid 76.0 coverage grade through three games.
  • Colts CB Rock Ya-Sin vs. Bears WR Allen Robinson II — Whoever is tasked with covering Robinson II — whether it's Ya-Sin, who could be playing for the first time since Week 1, or reigning AFC Defensive Player of the Week Xavier Rhodes going against his old NFC North Division foes — it's going to be a tall task against one of the best receivers in the league. Despite getting inconsistent play out of the quarterback position, Robinson II last season hauled in 98 receptions for 1,147 yards and seven touchdowns, and has 18 receptions for 230 yards and one score through three games this year. The 6-foot-2, 220-pound Penn State product will no doubt be a major target for Foles on Sunday in his Bears starting debut, and it'll take a team effort to try to shut him down.
  • Colts P Rigoberto Sanchez vs. Bears WR Cordarrelle Patterson — Yeah, that's right — a special teams matchup to watch. This will be a strength-on-strength theme throughout the afternoon, as Sanchez has been one of the league's best at flipping field position, while Patterson is one of the league's best kickoff returners. Patterson currently leads the NFL with nine kickoff returns for 284 yards, an average of 31.6 yards per return, so the Colts can't be caught off guard if he decides to return any kickoff out of the end zone. Sanchez and his top-notch coverage team, meanwhile, will try to limit any sort of big returns, which they've been able to do very successfully for the first three weeks of the season. "Patterson, he's the best in the league," Reich said. "He's an aggressive returner. He'll bring it out from anywhere. A lot of guys in this league, if the ball is kicked into the end zone are given the instruction to stay in, but he's given the freedom to take anything out at any time. He's just got great vision. The other thing that Patterson has as a returner is he's just got great strength. He's hard to bring down. He's a big, strong man and fast – and he's been consistently one of the best so it's really a good challenge for our special teams. We feel Rigo (Sanchez) is equally a great weapon for us. So, we felt that way from the beginning. He's been outstanding this year. He's outstanding in practice. So talented and you can't ever underestimate how important that plays into a game."

REFEREE ASSIGNMENT

BETTING LINE

REGULAR SEASON LEADERS

Colts:

  • Passing — QB Philip Rivers (794 yards)
  • Rushing — RB Jonathan Taylor (182 yards)
  • Receiving — TE Mo Alie-Cox (181 yards)
  • Touchdowns — RB Nyheim Hines, RB Jonathan Taylor (2 each)
  • Tackles — LB Darius Leonard (27)
  • Sacks — Justin Houston (2.5)
  • Interceptions — CB T.J. Carrie, CB Xavier Rhodes (2 each)

Bears:

  • Passing — QB Mitchell Trubisky (560 yards)
  • Rushing — RB David Montgomery (191 yards)
  • Receiving — WR Allen Robinson (230 yards)
  • Touchdowns — TE Jimmy Graham (3)
  • Tackles — LB Roquan Smith (21)
  • Sacks — DE Akiem Hicks (3.5)
  • Interceptions — S Deon Bush, CB Kyle Fuller & S Tashaun Gipson (1 each)

COMPARING 2020 STATS

Colts:

  • Total offense — 12th (384.0 YPG)
  • Scoring — 13th (28.0 PPG)
  • Passing offense — 10th (264.7 YPG)
  • Sack percentage allowed — 5th (3.13)
  • Rushing offense — 15th (119.3 YPG)
  • Third down offense — 32nd (30.30 percent)
  • Red zone offense — 23rd (54.55 percent)
  • Total defense — 1st (225.3 YPG)
  • Scoring defense — 1st (15.0 PPG)
  • Passing defense — 1st (132.0 YPG)
  • Sacks — 7th (9)
  • Rushing defense — 4th (93.3 YPG)
  • Third down defense — 3rd (32.26 percent)
  • Red zone defense — Tied-18th (66.67 percent)
  • Time of possession — 2nd (33:59)
  • Turnover differential — Tied-5th (+3)

Bears:

  • Total offense — 17th (368.0 YPG)
  • Scoring — 20th (24.7 PPG)
  • Passing offense — 23rd (230.0 YPG)
  • Sack percentage allowed — 17th (6.09)
  • Rushing offense — 11th (138.0 YPG)
  • Third down offense — 28th (35.71 percent)
  • Red zone offense — Tied-25th (50.00 percent)
  • Total defense — 15th (364.0 YPG)
  • Scoring defense — 9th (20.7 PPG)
  • Passing defense — 17th (245.0 YPG)
  • Sacks — Tied-12th (7)
  • Rushing defense — 17th (119.0 YPG)
  • Third down defense — 2nd (30.95 percent)
  • Red zone defense — 3rd (41.67 percent)
  • Time of possession — 5th (32:48)
  • Turnover differential — Tied-18th (+/- 0)

NOTES AND QUOTES

  • With one touchdown, Jack Doyle will pass Ken Dilger (18) and tie Tom Mitchell (19) and Dwayne Allen (19) for the fourth-most total touchdowns by a tight end in team history.
  • With one touchdown, T.Y. Hilton will pass Dallas Clark (46) for the 11th-most total touchdowns in team history.
  • With one receiving touchdown, Hilton will tie Dallas Clark (46) for the sixth-most receiving touchdowns in team history.
  • With one game with 10+ receptions, Hilton will pass Don McCauley, Lydell Mitchell, Joe Washington, Anthony Johnson and Dallas Clark, all with three, for the third-most games with 10+ receptions in team history.
  • With eight receptions, Nyheim Hines will pass Joe Washington (127) for the third-most receptions by a Colts running back in their first three seasons in the NFL. He would also pass Washington for the 10th-most receptions by a Colts player in their first three seasons.
  • With one game with 400+ passing yards, Philip Rivers will tie Ben Roethlisberger (12) for the fourth-most games with 400+ passing yards in NFL history.
  • With 20 passes completed, Rivers will reach 5,000 career passes completed. He would become just the fifth player in NFL history to reach that plateau, joining Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Brett Favre and Peyton Manning.
  • With three punts inside the 20-yard line, Rigoberto Sanchez will pass Chris Gardocki (80) for the fourth-most punts inside the 20-yard line in franchise history.
  • If he finishes one game with a 50.0+ punting average, Sanchez will pass Chris Gardocki (four) for the fifth-most games with a 50.0+ punting average in franchise history
  • "We're always searching for guys that can play eight guys on the defensive line. We really base it mostly off of our loaf system and the hustle system. If a guy comes in and he plays 25 plays but a third of his plays are loafs, we will decrease his reps until he can play at the level we need him to play at in terms of his hustle and his hitting and his execution. That's across the board. When a guy shows that he can be on our all-hustle team, which is a 90 percent hustle grade, then he can play as many plays as he's able to execute. There are guys in there that are doing that. Grover Stewart does a great job. (Al-Quadin) Muhammad does a great job. There are a lot of guys in there. (DeForest Buckner) Buck does a great job of hustling every single play and those guys are on the all-hustle team every single week. That's what we're searching for. The rotation will be based on those guys that can play hard every single snap with good technique." — Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus on how he decides the rotation from week to week along the defensive line.
  • "I don't think that's a concern. We're going to have plays that go to T.Y. (Hilton) each week. We know that the offense runs through T.Y. – the pass offense runs through T.Y. and getting him the football. We're just going to continue to do what we do as far as planning it and practicing it against the different looks we're getting. It will get going. I have no doubt about that, that it will get going and we'll get that part of our game going." — Colts offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni on if he has any concerns after a slower-than-usual start for No. 1 wide receiver T.Y. Hilton.
  • "Rigo, he's a great player. He's a great player, but the thing that a lot of people don't see is – because not everyone is at practice the entire time and the fans don't get to see practice – he works extremely hard at all of his tasks: kickoffs, punts, placement punts, alternative kicks. All of these things – we work these every week. So when we have the opportunity to hit the plus-50 kickoff, we know that the hangtime has to be at X-amount a number for us to have an opportunity to have a tackle inside the 15 (yard line). He executes the kick perfectly with hang and direction, and we played it well as a coverage unit. Playing fast and aggressive to the point, I would say the location on the kickoffs were really good this past week. For this upcoming week, we have a challenge. We're going against the best kick returner in the NFL. We have to play with discipline. We'll see how good we can respond. I think our guys are excited for the challenge and I think Rigo is too." — Colts special teams coordinator Bubba Ventrone on punter and kickoff specialist Rigoberto Sanchez.
  • "I had so much confidence because like you said, I've been through a lot over these last few years. There have been a lot of ups and downs within my career and then the ankle injury was just the cherry on top of all of that. I definitely have a lot of confidence. I'm just treating everyday like it's a game. Obviously, over the past few years, I haven't been able to play in a lot of games so I was just taking that energy to practice and just treating every practice like a game. It really helped me just go out here and be prepared and be ready when my number was called." — Colts wide receiver Daurice Fountain, on being prepared to step up into a larger role with multiple injuries at the position.
  • "You definitely do want to get into the open field and let your legs go, but I think we did a great job – not we did, the guys in the running back group – when I got here they were explaining like, 'Hey, this is a new level of football now. So you're going to have your opportunity.' But I kind of alluded to it earlier – when you see it, you have to hit it otherwise that's your opportunity right there. You know it's that much tougher to get out in the open field and when you get out into the open field, you have to make it count. It's definitely an adjustment but you have to understand, it's big-boy football now. Four yards or better is acceptable, but you definitely want to get out into that open field and kind of show your talents." — Colts running back Jonathan Taylor on his eagerness to break out into a long run after having 19 rushes of 40 or more yards in college at Wisconsin, but zero so far in three games in Indy.

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