INDIANAPOLIS – Arguably the most difficult game the Colts will have in 2016 comes in Week Nine.
The Colts (3-5) and Packers (4-3) will meet on Sunday at 4:25 at historic Lambaeu Field.
What are the key ingredients to victory, presented by Papa Johns, when the Colts (3-5) take on the Packers (4-3) in Week Nine?
1. Slow Down A-Rod
-Aaron Rodgers is the conductor of Green Bay's train. Even with changing parts around him, Rodgers has put together back-to-back games with seven touchdowns and no interceptions. The Colts have to disrupt the timing of Rodgers in some fashion, and might have to do it with several important defensive starters on the sideline.
2. Early Energy
-When the Packers are playing at home, they've done a tremendous job with quick starts. In their last 19 games at Lambeau Field, Green Bay has outscored teams 185-22 in the first quarter. They are averaging a two-score lead by the end of the opening quarter in home games over the past two years.
3. More Moncrief?
-If T.Y. Hilton plays Sunday, he's going to be limited in some degree. That means even more of an onus on Donte Moncrief having to be a reliable target on Sunday. Moncrief had four catches in nine targets last week. The Colts need that catch number to rise with the targets for Moncrief very easily hovering around 10 this weekend.
4. New Secondary Faces
-Could the Colts be down their Pro Bowl defensive backs this weekend? Mike Adams (groin) hasn't practiced this week. Vontae Davis (concussion) still has to pass steps in the concussion protcol. That means Rashaan Melvin and T.J. Green could all of a sudden become full-time starters against one of the league's most explosive passing attacks, inside and outside of the pocket.
5. Who's Blocking Luck?
-At practice this week, three of the top six linemen for the Colts have all missed time (LG-Jack Mewhort, RG-Denzelle Good and RT-Joe Reitz). That complicates things even more with one of the better defensive fronts in football coming at the Colts this weekend. Green Bay ranks third against the run this year and still gets after the quarterback at an impressive clip.
6. No YAC
-With the running back injuries for Green Bay, their version of the run game has included a bunch of short passes. Of course that means open field tackling is a premium. The Packers are using quick, shifty receivers as running backs out of the backfield right now. You know they will use some of that stuff this weekend with the Colts struggling at open field tackling in 2016.
7. Another Pre-Bye Gem?
-Last year in the game before their bye week, the Colts put together their best effort of 2015 in beating the Broncos. Can the Colts do it again? Remember, Sunday is the start of the second half of the season when the Colts will play five playoff teams over the final eight games.