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Week Seven Preview: New Orleans Saints @ Indianapolis Colts

Intro: The Colts (3-3) return to Lucas Oil Stadium this week with the New Orleans Saints (2-4) in town for a 1:00 p.m. EST kickoff on Sunday. Here is the Week Seven preview of the Colts and Saints.


INDIANAPOLIS – Earlier this week, Chuck Pagano was asked by the media how he handles losses.

Pagano's record of 36-18 means he hasn't had to deal with losses anywhere near the amount of times he has victories.

Of the previous 17 losses Pagano has had in the NFL, his team has bounced back with a win the next week an NFL-best 15 times.

That doesn't mean the agony from a loss isn't fresh in the week following a defeat.

"You're sitting there and you're going to play it over and over and over in your head and ask, 'Just let me fall asleep for a couple hours please and put this (behind me).' Pagano says of losses. "So get a couple hours and life goes on. You got to get up and you got to move on.

"Just like I told the players, 'You're going to face adversity. You're going to get knocked down, but you got to get up. You got to dust yourself off and you got to move on.'"

The moving on in Week Seven of the regular season comes with another future gold-jacket wearing quarterback on the opposing sideline this weekend.

Drew Brees has returned from an early season shoulder injury and is following the same script that has turned him into one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history.

The ball won't be in Brees' hands for long on Sunday, and trying to lock in on his top targets won't totally eliminate the success of the Saints third-ranked passing attack.

"He knows where to go with the football," Colts safety Dwight Lowery said of Brees earlier this week.

"He spreads the football amongst his teammates, so everyone is live on the play. Some quarterbacks in some systems you can kind of figure out who's going to get the ball and who's not. (Brees) does an outstanding job of making sure that he gets the ball to the open man, and it turns into success for the offense."

With Brees this week, the Colts are in the midst of a quarterback gauntlet unlike really any other in the NFL.

Last week it was Tom Brady. This week it's Brees. The names of Newton, Manning, Ryan and Roethlisberger are on the horizon.

For a Colts secondary that has battled injuries all season long, the unit relishes the chance to play against the top of the class.

"You play in this league, you want to play against the best," Darius Butler says.

"When you get opportunities like we have, you want to take advantage of them. You want to step up to the plate. It's going to be a huge task, but I think we'll be ready for it."

The ultimate opportunity at hand on Sunday is a chance for the Colts to move to 4-3 on the season.

Taking a peek ahead at what is on the schedule the next two weeks (undefeated meetings with Carolina and Denver), only adds to the importance of Sunday afternoon at Lucas Oil Stadium.

"We cannot have a hangover from this deal," Pagano said on Monday after the loss to New England.

"We put it behind us (Monday) afternoon after we watched this tape. We can't have a hangover because we've got another really good football team coming in here and we have to prepare and get ready to play on Sunday. We can't dwell on anything, win or lose."


INTERESTING MATCHUPS Saints quarterback Drew Brees versus the Colts defense:The homecoming of sorts for Drew Brees will come this weekend in his first ever game at Lucas Oil Stadium. With college friends in the stands, the most accurate quarterback in the NFL history will be spreading the ball around to a plethora of Saints skill guys. It's up to the Colts secondary, and maybe some pressure from Robert Mathis seeing more snaps, to try and disrupt the ever-efficient Brees.Colts running back Frank Gore versus the Saints defensive front: Through six games of the 2015 season, Frank Gore is on pace for the Colts first 1,000-yard season since Joseph Addai in 2007. Gore is averaging 4.5 yards per carry this year, and this week he will see a Saints defense that is struggling against the run (30th in the NFL). Is this the week Gore ends the Colts 46-game drought of not having a 100-yard rusher?Quick Facts

  • Under Chuck Pagano, the Colts are 15-2 in games following losses (the best mark in the NFL).
  • Colts inside linebacker D'Qwell Jackson leads the NFL with 71 tackles (12 more than second place).
  • Since joining the Colts in 2014, safety Mike Adams is tied for the NFL lead with nine interceptions. Adams has bee ruled OUT for Sunday though. Colt Anderson will start in Adams' place.
  • Since joining the Saints in 2006, Drew Brees leads the NFL with 45,301 passing yards and 323 touchdowns.
  • The Saints are one of two teams in the NFL with five players having at least 200 receiving yards (San Diego).
  • Last week against Atlanta, tight end Ben Watson tied a career-high in catches (10) and set a career-high in receiving yards (127). Before last week, it had been 70 games since Watson had more than 100 receiving yards in a game.

NOTABLE QUOTESColts Head Coach Chuck Pagano(on Sean Payton and the Saints offense):

"He's still operating that offense at a high level. Sean Payton does a great job, always has done a great job. Drew Brees, arguably going to be a first ballot hall of famer, he does a great job of managing it, spreading the ball around. The running numbers don't look great but don't be fooled, they got three backs that can all tote the rock. They all have different skillsets. They've got wide receivers. Ben Watson came alive in their last game, 10 catches against Atlanta. They've got over 300 yards, when you say they're not putting it down the field, but he's getting it out and he's getting it out quick and he's getting it out in playmakers' hands. (Brandin) Cooks is a great player. They're using the backs a ton in the pass game. (Mark) Ingram is the second leading receiver on their team. (C.J.) Spiller is a threat obviously out of the backfield. The health of (Marques) Colston is up in the air right now but they've got (Willie) Snead who has a great chemistry and relationship with the quarterback. They're doing a nice job. They do a great job with tempo. They do a great job with personnel groups in their first 15, to start ball games. They could be in as many as, if they wanted to, 15 different personnel groups and they do a great job of hiding substitutions. They do a great job of being efficient as far as huddle procedure, getting to the line of scrimmage, getting them in the right play and getting the ball snapped. So we got to do a great job on the defensive side of matching those things and getting lined up, communicating and being on the same page."

Colts Head Coach Chuck Pagano(on where the Colts are at mentally right now):

"Again, like I said, I think this team has overcome a lot. We've got some different pieces and different bodies in there, but like I said, because of our culture and the character of those men and their commitment to the 'shoe, their commitment to the fans, their commitment to each other, their commitment to winning, they're able to put the blinders on, put the earmuffs on and move on and look to the next game. Is there disappointment in life? Yeah, there's going to be disappointment, but you've got to get up, you've got to dust yourself off, you've got to get off the ground and you've got to move. You've got to keep moving forward."

Colts Quarterback Andrew Luck(on what he sees in Drew Brees):

"I've always admired Drew a lot. Got to know him over the past couple years at various events and different things. A great guy, a great quarterback who's done it well for a long time. He's not the prototypical size, strength and speed of a quarterback. He's an incredible passer of the football, accurate, great feet, obviously a winner. A lot to learn from him I think any young quarterback at any age. He's one of those guys that's a role model in the quarterback role."

Saints Head Coach Sean Payton(on the Colts):

"In our scouting report meeting, we kind of go through all three phases. I think offensively what's noticeable is the speed at the receiver position and some of the depth. They had a chance to draft (Phillip) Dorsett, who is someone we scouted and looked at closely. Obviously T.Y. (Hilton), Andre (Johnson) and then (Donte) Moncrief has been playing well. The tight ends are versatile players. I think that the running game is more of a gap scheme as opposed to a zone scheme and that will be a little bit different. Defensively, they are playing out of a 34 front, a lot of under defense. It's a physical front. I think they're one of the top-five in the league in regards to minus rushing yard, having negative rushing plays. It's important to stay ahead of the chains, especially against this type of defense. Obviously we have to deal with the kicking game. The punter (Pat McAfee) is playing real well. The hang time and the distance is something that we have to do our best to simulate. I would say looking at their season and there are only a few teams that really like where they are standing at the five or six week pole. They played some close games and even going back to last weekend in their most recent game against New England."

Saints Head Coach Sean Payton(on his connections to the Indianapolis area):

"I grew up in Illinois and spent a lot of time – shoot, my first coaching job was at Indiana State. Then for about four summers, six summers worked down at Franklin College. My high school coach coached in Indianapolis, J.R. Bishop, for a number of years, Dick Dullaghan. I've just spent a lot of time there and regionally it's very similar to Charleston, Illinois where I went to college. I'll have a handful of tickets. I haven't gotten the total yet, but it's a great area to be from. For me, it's where I first started getting a chance to coach."

Saints Quarterback Drew Brees(on coming back to play in Indiana this weekend):

"Yeah, like you said, now that I am in the NFC and obviously the Colts are in the AFC, this only happens once every eight years. It was back in 2007 was the last time that we were there and I guess a few times before that. That was the RCA Dome so this will be the first time that I am playing a regular season game in Lucas Oil (Stadium). Obviously all the Purdue ties and I will have a lot of friends and former teammates and college roommates and all that other stuff at the game. That makes it a little bit more meaningful. Obviously every game is important, every game is extremely meaningful, but I guess it would be similar to going back to Texas to play a game, which is my home state. There is just something about going to a place that feels like home that you spent so many of your formative years there."

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