2019 Colts Preview: Colts/Falcons, Week 3

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INDIANAPOLIS — Home, sweet home.

In their 2019 regular season home opener, the Indianapolis Colts (1-1) on Sunday play host to the Atlanta Falcons (1-1) in a matchup of inter-conference opponents from the AFC South and NFC South, respectively.

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan arrives in Indianapolis flanked by Julio Jones, Devonta Freeman and Atlanta's high-flying offense. It's a matchup where both defenses will need to stick to their fundamentals and do their best to take care of business.

BROADCAST INFORMATION

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

LAST WEEK

Colts:

  • Won @ Tennessee Titans (1-1), 19-17

Falcons:

  • Won vs. Philadelphia Eagles (1-1), 24-20

INJURY UPDATE

Colts:

  • OUT — LB Darius Leonard (concussion), DE Jabaal Sheard (knee)
  • QUESTIONABLE — WR T.Y. Hilton (quad), RB Marlon Mack (calf), RB Jonathan Williams (rib)

Falcons:

  • OUT — P Matt Bosher (groin)

STORYLINES/THINGS TO WATCH

  • Marlon Mack's Availability — Mack (calf, questionable) missed Wednesday and Thursday's practices, but returned on Friday to improve his chances of playing on Sunday. If he does suit up Sunday then the Colts can very much take advantage of the run game. Mack currently sits at third in the league in rushing at 225 yards, so he will be missed is he doesn't play. If he doesn't play, then look for Jordan Wilkins and Nyheim Hines to potentially carry the load like they did early in 2018 when Mack was banged up. Wilkins had a career-long 55-yard run just last week. The Colts could follow the Minnesota Vikings' formula against the Falcons from Week 1 where they ran for 172 yards, led by Dalvin Cook's 111.
  • Darius Leonard Out, Next Man Up — Leonard (concussion) has been declared out, so it likely means we see more from rookie Bobby Okereke on Sunday. He may switch between MIKE and WILL with normal starting MIKE, Anthony Walker. “Bobby has been progressing along like the rest of the rookies," Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus told reporters this week about Okereke's progress. "They’re all working day by day to get better and I can see that in Bobby. He’s maturing as we go. He’s a mature competitor to start and that’s why we brought him in. He’s continued to improve on his day-to-day operation and then he’s making plays in practice. If you’re making plays in practice, you’re going to make them in the game and that’s what he’s doing.”
  • Big Test For Colts' Secondary — Jones is a tall enough order for any secondary, but Calvin Ridley looks even better than 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. “I just think every week there are always issues. When you’re on defense or offense you’re trying to block a certain rusher or you’re trying to take care of this certain linebacker or this cover guy. On defense, you’re trying to do the opposite," Eberflus said about the challenge of Atlanta's offense this week. "You’ve got this receiver or tight end matchup that you’re worried about. I think it’s always that. That’s what we do as coaches here. The last 48 hours we try to figure out how to set ourselves up to best defend what they have. We do that week to week and it still comes down to setting up your defense the right way and also playing fundamentally sound so you’re sound in other areas too. So you’ve got to make sure there is a delicate balance there.”
  • Getting The Tight Ends Involved — Through two games, Colts tight ends Jack Doyle and Eric Ebron have only been targeted 12 times, which has resulted in seven catches. The leaders of the NFL's reigning top tight end group (who led the NFL in 2018 with 22 scores as a unit) will breakout again at some point this year; the question is just, "when?" This very well could be it this week as Zach Ertz of the Philadelphia Eagles was able to pickup 72 yards on eight receptions against Atlanta last week.
  • Kicking Game — Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri hasn't gotten off to the strongest start to the season, missing five kicks in the first two games. But the future Hall of Famer said this week he’s appreciated the support of the entire team as he works on getting back to form Sunday. “That’s the thing about Frank (Reich), Chris (Ballard) and everybody in the locker room – we are very supportive of each other and we’ve all been around for a while," Vinatieri said. "Even new guys this year or if you have been here in the building 10 years, that’s what makes this building so great. Everybody is working together, supporting each other, picking each other up and doing the right stuff. So yeah, it’s nice to hear that he still trusts, relies, whatever, whatever. I hope I get a bunch of attempts this weekend.”

INTRIGUING MATCHUPS

  • Colts WR T.Y. Hilton vs. Falcons CB Desmond Trufant — Hilton (quad, questionable) had a modest performance in this matchup in 2015 with former quarterback Andrew Luck injured, and Matt Hasselbeck in the fold, but it should be 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. Both players have gotten off to great starts to their season; Hilton with three touchdowns and Trufant with two interceptions.
  • Colts IOL vs. Falcons DT Grady Jarrett — Everyone knows about guys like Aaron Donald and Geno Atkins around the NFL, 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. Jarrett currently leads Atlanta in sacks with two.

PROJECTED WEATHER

REFEREE ASSIGNMENT

BETTING LINE

REGULAR SEASON LEADERS

Colts:

  • Passing — QB Jacoby Brissett (336 yards)
  • Rushing — RB Marlon Mack (225 yards)
  • Receiving — WR T.Y. Hilton (130 yards)
  • Touchdowns — WR T.Y. Hilton (3)
  • Tackles — LB Darius Leonard (18)
  • Sacks — DL Denico Autry (2.5)
  • Interceptions — S Malik Hooker (1)

Falcons:

  • Passing — QB Matt Ryan (624 yards)
  • Rushing — RB Ito Smith (63 yards)
  • Receiving — WR Calvin Ridley (169 yards)
  • Touchdowns — WR Julio Jones (3)
  • Tackles —LB De'Vondre Campbell (16)
  • Sacks — DT Grady Jarrett (2.0)
  • Interceptions — CB Desmond Trufant (2)

COMPARING 2019 STATS

Colts:

  • Total offense — 22nd (332.0 YPG)
  • Scoring — 14th (21.5 PPG)
  • Passing offense — 32nd (147.0 YPG)
  • Sacks allowed — Tied-16th (5)
  • Running offense — Tied-2nd (185.0 YPG)
  • Third down offense — 8th (52%)
  • Red zone offense — 3rd (83.3%)
  • Total defense — 3rd (277.5 YPG)
  • Scoring defense — 22nd (23.5 PPG)
  • Passing defense — 1st (167.0 YPG)
  • Sacks — Tied-3rd (8)
  • Running defense — Tied-21st (124.5 YPG)
  • Third down defense — 15th (38%)
  • Red zone defense — 29th (80%)
  • Time of possession — 8th (32:02)
  • Turnover differential — 18th (0)

Falcons:

  • Total offense — 17th (356.0 YPG)
  • Scoring — Tied-23rd (18.0 PPG)
  • Passing offense — 9th (291.0 YPG)
  • Sacks allowed — Tied-16th (5)
  • Running offense — 28th (65.0 YPG)
  • Third down offense — 26th (28%)
  • Red zone offense — 22nd (50%)
  • Total defense — 14th (339.0 YPG)
  • Scoring defense — 23rd (24.0 PPG)
  • Passing defense — 10th (214.5 YPG)
  • Sacks — Tied-20th (4)
  • Running defense — 17th (110.5 YPG)
  • Third down defense — 28th (50%)
  • Red zone defense — 17th (62.5%)
  • Time of possession — 23rd (28:40)
  • Turnover differential — 30th (-3)

NOTES AND QUOTES

  • Falcons head coach Dan Quinn on Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett's performance so far: “Well I think it’s true to him. Number one, he’s a hell of a competitor. I think that’s where it starts because of his toughness. He’ll stand in there, he’ll fight through a blocker to extend a play to make it. It looks like he’s really mindful about the football and playing quarterback that’s really important from a turnover standpoint. You can see he has a real eye and a care for that, knowing how important it is to the team. He’s always had the arm talent. I actually know Jacoby quite well back from his college days. I’ve always enjoyed him and followed him. So to see him having his moment to do it, I’m really happy for him. Not this week, obviously (laughs). But all the other weeks for sure.”
  • Quinn on what makes Hilton so great: “I would say probably like the quickness. You see the long speed on the shot plays and that’s good, but sometimes a guy with long speed doesn’t have the change of direction and can only play outside. So he can play all the spots. He can be outside to a single receiver, inside to a slot, outside to a multiple receiver set. But after the catch, I think no bigger example than the Charger game of on a crossing route making people miss. You know how difficult that is to do? So to have a chance to make people miss and then have the speed to finish, that to me sets him apart because he is a tough, competitive guy. They can put him anywhere and not everybody can do that.”
  • Mack (if he plays) needs nine rushing yards to reach 1,500 career rushing yards. He would become the fourth player in Colts' franchise history to reach that mark before turning 24 years old, joining Alan Ameche (1955-56), Marshall Faulk (1994-96) and Edgerrin James (1999-2001). With one 100-yard rushing performance, Mack will tie Curtis Dickey, Randy McMillan and Lenny Moore (six) for the seventh-most such games in franchise history.
  • Hilton needs one touchdown to pass Ameche (44) for the 12th-most total touchdowns in franchise history, and two touchdowns to tie Dallas Clark (46) for the 11th-most.
  • Doyle needs 18 receiving yards to pass Tom Mitchell (1,786) for the seventh-most receiving yards by a tight end in franchise history
  • Ebron needs one receiving touchdown to pass Doyle (14) for the eighth-most receiving touchdowns by a tight end in franchise history.

NEXT WEEK

Colts:

  • Oakland Raiders (home)

Falcons:

  • Tennessee Titans (home)

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