INDIANAPOLIS –Bruce Arians has seen the Colts play well in two road wins and struggle three other times in losing away from Indianapolis.
Arians wants the 7-4 Colts to find a consistent playing level away from home as it keeps slugging away for a post-season berth.
In meeting a 4-7 Detroit team that is just as explosive as a New England bunch that tagged the Colts with a 59-24 loss two games ago, Arians has changed not a whit of preparation.
"No, not a thing," said Arians. "You just have to keep plugging and add them up on Sunday. Hopefully, we can play better on the road against a quality opponent and get a win. This is a great challenge for us."
In three double-digit road losses, the team either failed to maximize offensive possessions, or turned the ball over and allowed opponents to get ahead. The Colts also fell at Chicago (41-21) and the New York Jets (35-9).
"It's a matter of staying within the game, not falling behind and getting one-dimensional, and not turning the ball over early in the ballgame," said Arians. "In New York, it was kicking a field goal rather than scoring a touchdown. Those early touchdowns add up to build confidence on the road that we need to do. (Detroit) can score points. We can't go down there and kick field goals on third-and-one on the one-yard line and expect to win the game."
One area where the offense needs improvement is the red zone, where its 48.6 touchdown percentage on 35 trips ranks 23rd in the league. Young performers are finding more practice reps dedicated to that part of the field.
"I still think that's the hardest place for young players to learn how to play," said Arians. "Everything is confined. Each week, teams have little nuances that they do in the red zone. You (normally) get 10-to-15 (red zone) snaps in practice, we try to get 25.
"It's a young quarterback, young receivers, young tight ends all learning the proper spacing down there, and making a throw and a catch. In New England, we did a good a job of throwing and catching the ball in proper spots. Other times we just missed guys, and we have to run the ball better inside the 15-yard line."
Arians said strong safety Tom Zbikowski will not travel because of a knee injury and Sergio Brown and Joe Lefeged will split his duties. Cornerback Vontae Davis should start and play significant time. Arians said Head Coach Chuck Pagano started his third chemotherapy session today and is doing well.
Indianapolis will meet a Lions bunch that is 3-6 in one-score games and is coming off consecutive such home losses. Detroit Head Coach Jim Schwartz reminded his squad this week last year's Super Bowl winner was 7-7 before catching fire.
"This is a very talented team, and they've lost two really close games at home. We're going to get their best shot," said Arians. "They're in a do-or-die situation, and so are we. We have to give them our best shot and not leave anything for chance. We can't bet on other teams to help us. We have to help ourselves."
Arians is having an exhilarating time subbing for his dear friend, Pagano. He thrives on the game.
"I'm having a lot of fun. That's the only way you can look at it," said Arians. "The stress part is just like the word, 'pressure.' If you're not prepared, you feel it. I'm very confident with this team, that the next guy will step up when he's needed and we'll make enough plays to have a chance to win this game."