Week Nine Preview: Indianapolis Colts @ Green Bay Packers

Intro: The Colts (3-5) will head up to Lambeau Field on Sunday for a 4:25 p.m. kick against the Packers (4-3). Here’s the Week Nine preview of the Colts playing one more game before their bye.

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INDIANAPOLIS – For the first time in his 14 NFL seasons, Robert Mathis has a weekly radio show.

Mathis is not a big talker, but always provides a tremendous pulse on the team and as a veteran presence, he's a must-listen to voice each week.

What Mathis did not expect in showing up each week to his radio show is for the narrative to be relatively the same through the first half of 2016.

And it's not one he wants to still be talking about.

"You hate to keep saying it week in and week out---back to the drawing board, back to this and the old clichés," Mathis said Tuesday with Query and Schultz on WNDE.

How the 2016 season has transpired for the Colts has not been easy for Mathis. He calls it the most frustrating of his 14 seasons in Indianapolis.

With the calendar turning now to November, Mathis also knows the days for him to talk about more positive things on his radio show are numbered.

"I would say it's put up or shut up (time) to be quite honest with you," he says.

The Colts certainly won't be easing their way into this final half of games in 2016.

Waiting on Sunday are the Green Bay Packers (4-3).

Future Hall of Famer Aaron Rodgers is once again playing at an extremely high level and enters Sunday off consecutive games where he threw seven touchdowns and no interceptions.

Rodgers is facing a Colts' secondary that should relish the opportunity of playing against one of the game's best, even if that group might not have top cornerback Vontae Davis.

"It's more opportunities for us to make plays when the ball is in the air and obviously more opportunities for them to make plays also," nickelback Darius Butler says.

"We have to be disciplined, especially when you play against a quarterback like Rodgers. He is going to find the weak points in the coverages and if we have some new guys out there he is probably going to test them out early and see how they hold up. That's what this league is and guys should be ready."

A loss on Sunday for the Colts would drop them to 3-6, a record that is so distant from how this franchise has operated for the past decade and a half.

Since 1997, only one NFL team has started a season 3-6 and still made the playoffs.

Mathis knows the time is ticking.

"I would say we are kind of at that point right now," Mathis says.

"After eight games, we are two games under .500 and now comes the playoff push. November/December football it really ramps up a lot."**

INTERESTING MATCHUPSColts secondary versus Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers: On paper, the Packers would appear to have a big advantage in this matchup. Rodgers is throwing the ball extremely well over the last two games (completing more than 70 percent of his passes while throwing seven touchdowns and zero interceptions). The Colts are without Mike Adams on Sunday and Vontae Davis' status is still in question. This is likely the toughest matchup the Colts will see in 2016 when you consider how Rodgers is playing, combined with the Colts missing two Pro Bowlers in the secondary.Colts offensive line versus the Packers defensive front:The Colts are once again going into a week with the offensive line makeup not locked in stone. On the other side of it, the Packers are a rare defensive unit. They are one of the best in the league in stopping the run, yet the group still gets after the quarterback at a very high rate.

Quick Facts**

  • Over the final eight games, the Colts will play five teams currently in the playoffs.
  • The Colts have allowed at least 20 points in the first eight games of 2016, which is just the second time in 35 years they've done that.
  • Backup quarterback Scott Tolzien (2013-15) and outside linebacker Erik Walden (2010-12) are both former Packers.
  • In his last five games at home against the AFC, Aaron Rodgers has averaged 312.4 yards per game, thrown 15 touchdowns and no interceptions.
  • If Packers wide receiver Davante Adams has 12 catches on Sunday, he would be the first player in NFL history to reach that mark in three straight games.
  • Green Bay took Indiana University offensive tackle Jason Spriggs in the second round. Spriggs has played 26 total snaps this season.

NOTABLE QUOTESColts Head Coach Chuck Pagano(on Green Bay's offense):

"They've had a rash of injuries at the running back spot. They've been really creative. (Mike) McCarthy does a great job. Obviously, they've got one of the best signal callers in the game in Aaron Rodgers. They'll put 18 (Randall Cobb) back there, they'll use 88 (Ty Montgomery) back there, 44 might be back this week, (James) Starks, so a lot of quick passes, a lot of screens, slants, pick plays this that and the other so we have to do a great job of getting lined up and when the ball does come out, we have to limit the run after catch stuff, the yards after contact. It's going to be huge. It's an extension of the run game. They can hand the thing off or they can get it out of Aaron's hand quickly, which they're doing. They spread you out, multiple personnel groups. They'll put those guys in the backfield. They'll go empty and get it in their playmakers' hands and then we have to do a great job of covering down and getting guys on the ground."

Colts Head Coach Chuck Pagano(on the challenge of facing Aaron Rodgers with the injuries in the secondary):

"Again, it's a huge challenge. The guy has great arm talent. He's got one of the quickest releases in the game. We have to do a great job of containing him when he gets out of the pocket when he extends plays he can burn you and that's where most of his big plays come from. Big plays come from the pocket, but when he extends plays he can throw it 50, 60, 70 yards on a frozen rope and he's not afraid to throw it across the field. Receivers do a great job of extending plays, run an initial route and then everybody is running to get open. They have great chemistry. He keeps his eyes down the field and he has unbelievable pocket presence, has a great feel for that, athleticism. I can go on and on and on about the guy."

Colts Outside Linebacker Erik Walden(on playing his former team and why the Packers are so impressive over the years):

"Just kind of how they are a great overall and balanced team. They are not going to beat themselves that's for sure. As a defense we have our hands full. 12 (Aaron Rodgers) is one of the best in the business. He is going to get everybody lined up and he is going to make sure he is playing well. We just have to make plays when they come to us, we can't give them second opportunities and beat ourselves. That will be our main focus to get off on third downs, stop the run and eliminate the penalties."

Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy(on having to change up what they are doing offensively thanks to Aaron Rodgers playing so well as of late):

"We have kind of changed gears a little bit. Part of it because of what we wanted to do offensively and how we wanted to attack the defense. We have had a lot of moving parts too with the personnel changes particularly in our perimeter. He is a great player and he just stays the course and handles adjustments and changes as well as anybody I have ever been around. I think some of the conversation of the earlier games were more of convenience for certain people. If you look at the games that we didn't have production whether the time of possession was down or the turnovers were frankly keys to our losses in Minnesota and Dallas, but other than that I have been very pleased with the consistency of our offense."

Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy (on Andrew Luck and Aaron Rodgers):

"I think Andrew Luck and Aaron (Rodgers), all players in this league are good players, you don't get into this league unless you are a good player. Andrew Luck and Aaron Rodgers, they were put on this Earth to play quarterback in the National Football League. They are both winners, they both play the game to their play style and can beat you in a unique way, both in the pocket and out of the pocket. They both have huge wills to win and will their team to victory. I think it definitely jumps off the film and more so the TV copies and I'm sure it will on Sunday. These guys are tops in their profession."

Packers Quarterback Aaron Rodgers(on if there's an adjustment to the awe of playing at Lambeau):

"It's hard for me to answer that, I think you would have to ask some of the guys that have played here before. I can tell you that we don't take it for granted playing here. It's a special place. If you are a lover of history and the history of the NFL, you have to have an appreciation for this team being the small town team in the early days going up against the big cities and competing. And obviously with Vince (Lombardi) and the run that Coach Lombardi had for all of those years and the number of championships and on into the rough patches of the 70's and 80's and then Brett (Favre) playing so well in the 90's and 2000's. It's fun to be a part of the history of this team. The expectations here are high, there is a reason that Green Bay is nicknamed 'Titletown' because we have won so many times. It is fun, the expectations are high, but it is fun to play in a city where they expect to win every single year. It's Super Bowl or bust here and it's fun to be a part of a fan base that supports their players so much and really lives and dies emotionally with our ups and downs every year."

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JOIN US AT LUCAS OIL STADIUM ON NOV. 8TH

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