INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts (6-7) make their return to the national stage this week as they visit the New Orleans Saints (10-3) on Monday Night Football.
The Colts are looking to get themselves back on the right path after losing five of the last six games. While they are not officially eliminated from the playoff race just yet, they will attempt to build a little momentum here at the end of the season regardless.
Their opponent, the Saints, are one of the NFL's top teams, but are coming off of a home loss last week (albeit it in an exciting matchup) to the San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers kicked a field goal as time expired to come out on top, 48-46.
Let's take a look at this week's opponent.
49ers' Passing Game
49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo had a knockout game, going 26-of-35 passing (74.3 percent) for 349 yards (10.0 YPA), four touchdowns and one interception (Craig Robertson), and he was sacked three times (Von Bell, Demario Davis, Mario Edwards Jr.) for a passer rating of 131.7. San Francisco head coach Kyle Shanahan dialed up another pass on a gadget play wherein wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders took a pitch and rifled a pass 35 yards downfield for a touchdown to running back Raheem Mostert.
Sanders also led the 49ers in receiving, catching 7-of-9 targets for 157 yards (22.4 avg.) and a 75-yard touchdown. Fellow receiver Deebo Samuel and tight end George Kittle combined to catch 11-of-16 targets for 143 yards (13.0 avg.) and one touchdown.
49ers' Run Game
Mostert continued on his recent hot streak, leading San Francisco with 69 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries (6.9 avg.). As a team, the 49ers ran the ball 24 times for 162 yards (6.8 avg.) and one score.
Saints' Passing Game
As good as Garoppolo was, Saints quarterback Drew Brees was even better. He went 29-of-40 passing (72.5 percent) for 349 yards (8.7 YPA) and five touchdowns. He didn't throw any interceptions, and he wasn't sacked.
Saints receiver Michael Thomas — who is on pace to break former Colts receiver Marvin Harrison's NFL single-season receptions record (143) — went for 134 yards and a touchdown on 11 catches (12.2 avg.) while tight end Jared Cook and receiver Ted Ginn Jr. combined to catch 6-of-8 targets for 114 yards (19.0 avg.) and two touchdowns.
Saints' Run Game
Latavius Murray led New Orleans in rushing, going for 69 yards on seven carries (9.9 avg.) while starter Alvin KAmara was completely stifled, rushing 13 times for 25 yards (1.9 avg.). As a team the Saints ran the ball 27 times for 116 yards (4.3 avg.) and a touchdown.
Saints' Passing Game
Led by Brees, the Saints' passing game is obviously one of the most deadly units in football. As mentioned, Thomas is obviously a huge name to circle, as he is averaging 11.3 targets per game. Aside from Thomas, New Orleans relies on Kamara and Cook to move along their efficient passing game. Cook left last week's game with a concussion, so his status throughout the week will need to be monitored.
The Colts' pass defense has been pretty good although last week was not its best outing against Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston, when Indy gave up 467 yards and four touchdowns through the air. The Colts were, however, able to intercept Winston three times (Malik Hooker, Darius Leonard [twice]) and sacked him once (Justin Houston). The Colts currently rank 22nd against the pass (245.4 YPG) and are tied at 17th in sacks (33). Before Week 14, the Colts hadn't allowed 300 net passing yards in a game since Week 3.
- QB Drew Brees — 73.6 percent completions, 2,140 yards, 7.6 YPA, 17 TD, 4 INT, 9 sacks
- WR Michael Thomas — 121 catches (147 targets), 1,424 yards (11.8 avg.), 7 TD
- RB Alvin Kamara — 68 catches (82 targets), 462 yards (6.8 avg.), 1 TD
- TE Jared Cook — 34 catches (55 targets), 523 yards (15.4 avg.), 6 TD
- WR Ted Ginn Jr. — 28 catches (52 targets), 398 yards (14.2 avg.), 2 TD
Saints' Run Game
Although they feature one of the league's best running backs in Kamara, the Saints rank just 16th on the ground (108.0 YPG). While the Colts slipped up against the pass last week, they've been excellent against the run for most of the season, allowing an average of just 85.1 rushing yards per game since Week 5.
- RB Alvin Kamara — 138 carries, 612 yards (4.4 avg.), 1 TD
- RB Latavius Murray — 113 carries, 533 yards (4.7 avg.), 5 TD
- QB Teddy Bridgewater — 22 carries, 37 yards (1.7 avg.)
- QB Taysom Hill — 21 carries, 140 yards (6.7 avg.), 1 TD
Colts' Passing Game
Passing has been a subject of peaks and valleys this season for the Colts, but they're on the upswing recently. After averaging just 163.4 passing yards and totaling five touchdown passes between Weeks 8-12, they're averaging 276.0 yards and have three passing touchdowns in the two games since.
The Saints have proven to be overall solid against the pass this season, but they have surrendered passing performances of 406 yards and 354 yards, allowing six total passing touchdowns in those matchups. They can be taken advantage of, though, as they rank poorly in passing touchdowns allowed and are 20th overall against the pass (244.1 YPG). The Colts will definitely need to be wary of New Orleans' pass rush, as as its tied for the fourth most in the NFL (defensive end Cameron Jordan leads the Saints with 13.5).
- QB Jacoby Brissett — 63.2 percent completions, 2,496 yards, 6.9 YPA, 18 TD, 6 INT, 20 sacks
- WR Zach Pascal — 35 catches (60 targets), 547 yards (15.6 avg.), 5 TD
- TE Jack Doyle — 38 catches (59 targets), 404 yards (10.6 avg.), 4 TD
- WR T.Y. Hilton — 35 catches (52 targets), 378 yards (10.8 avg.), 5 TD
- TE Eric Ebron — 31 catches (52 targets), 375 yards (12.1 avg.), 3 TD
Colts' Run Game
The Colts' run game powers its entire offense and sets the tone for its success. The Colts fell victim to Tampa's elite run defense last week, running for just 66 yards, but they still rank sixth in the league (133.4 YPG). They got starting running back Marlon Mack back from a fractured hand last week, who resumed his outstanding season. He needs just 100 more yards to reach 1,000 for the first time in his career in a single season.
The Saints rank fifth against the run, so it's another big-time wall the Colts will need to try and defeat. New Orleans has four games where it's allowed less than 50 rushing yards. However, they've also had games where it's allowed 180, 162, 143 and 121 yards this season.
- RB Marlon Mack — 205 carries, 900 yards (4.4 avg.), 5 TD
- RB Jonathan Williams — 49 carries, 235 yards (4.8 avg.), 1 TD
- QB Jacoby Brissett — 48 carries, 167 yards (3.5 avg.), 3 TD
- RB Nyheim Hines — 42 carries, 151 yards (3.6 avg.), 2 TD
- RB Jordan Wilkins — 39 carries, 213 yards (5.5 avg.)
SAINTS' 2019 KEY STATS
- 4th in turnover differential (+11)
- 5th in time of possession (31:50)
- 1st in pass completion percentage (71.0%)
- Tied-2nd in passing touchdowns (26)
- Tied-4th in sacks allowed (21)
- 5th in scoring (26.5 PPG)
- 5th in interceptions thrown (6)
- 6th in passer rating (105.0)
- 8th in passing (261.4 YPG)
- 2nd in carries per game (21.8)
- Tied-4th in sacks (43)
- 5th in rushing (94.2 YPG)
- 10th in third-down conversions (36%)
- Tied-23rd in passing touchdowns allowed (24)
- 24th in red-zone scoring (59.5%)
- 29th in pass attempts per game (37.9)