Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
After a heartbreaking loss at the hands of the now 2-0 Miami Dolphins, the Colts go on a two game road trip and face the defending NFC Champion San Francisco 49ers. Both teams are 1-1 and coming off disappointing losses but each loss couldn’t be more different.
The Colts lost 24-20 after the Colts offense was unable to work their 4th quarter magic this time around and failed to score any points in the 4th quarter which led to Miami winning the game. Left Guard Donald Thomas would tear his quadriceps during the game and would be replaced by rookie Hugh Thornton. Dwayne Allen was also a no-go for the game with a hip injury that would eventually place him on Injured Reserve. The Colts allowed three sacks to Andrew Luck with two coming in the Colts final offensive drive. Donald Brown whiffed in a 4th and 10 in Miami territory to Philip Wheeler which caused the sack and turnover on downs. This loss was one of the few in this new regime that was close and not a blowout which was a refreshing change of pace from a loss perspective as last year the Colts lost the Bears, Jets, and Patriots game by 20+ points. The Colts will be missing Laron Landry due to a foot injury and Antoine Bethea and Pat Angerer are questionable to play.
The San Francisco 49ers come back to Candlestick Park embarrassed on the road against their division rival Seattle Seahawks who forced five 49er turnovers and only allowed three points. The 49ers couldn’t do anything on the ground as they have been known to do with a stud like Frank Gore. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick had the worst game in his young career having four turnovers and only 127 yards through the air. The 49ers have injuries as well with Vernon Davis being questionable due to a hamstring injury suffered against the Seahawks and safety Eric Reid who suffered a concussion in that game as well.
This game is being billed as the “Game of the Week” because Colts quarterback returns to the West Coast to go head-to-head against his old college coach Jim Harbaugh. Jim Harbaugh was also the Colts quarterback for the 1995-1997 and was one hail mary pass away from taking the Colts to Super Bowl XXX against the Dallas Cowboys. This game also has two of the best young quarterbacks in the league squaring off against each other.
The days leading up to this game had two big stories for each team.
For the 49ers, Outside Linebacker Aldon Smith was arrested yesterday morning after he crashed his car into a tree. He was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Marijuana was also found in the car as well. The 49ers have no applied any disciplinary action as they may very well wait for the league to bring the hammer down on a possible punishment.
For the Colts, on the wake of Dwayne Allen going on injured reserve due to a groin injury, they made a tarde than made shockwaves throughout the NFL. They traded their 1st round pick in 2014 for Cleveland Browns running back Trent Richardson. Trent Richardson was selected 3rd overall in the 2012 NFL Draft, two picks after Andrew Luck. This was also a response to the Colts losing Vick Ballard for the year to help bolster the run game.
Why the Colts will win
- The 49ers defense has not been as vaunted as it has been since late December tilt against the Patriots in 2012. They’ve allowed about over 30 points a game since then (including playoffs). The key to the game is to pile on the points quick and early. Don’t let the 49ers get the lead and have the Colts play catch up. The Colts receivers are more talented than Seattle’s and may be in line for a big day against a secondary that lost Dashon Goldson in free agency.
- The biggest key to the Colts offense is protecting Andrew Luck. Luck has been sacked seven times this season and against a pass rush by the likes of the 49ers, it could very well sack him seven more times. If the Colts pass blocking is up to par with what is needed, the Colts can very well win this game easier than most would think.
- The 49ers have given up a plentiful of yards on the ground and if the Colts 5th ranked running game coupled with new running back Trent Richardson hit the ground running with the run game, the 49ers will have to respect both the run and the pass which could lead for big plays during play-action.
- The Colts defense has to make Colin Kaepernick beat them with his arm. The talent of the 49ers wide receivers is thin with Michael Crabtree out for the season and Vernon Davis possibly unable to play. Take advantage of these opportunities and Kaepernick could very well make key mistakes.
- Hit Colin Kaepernick (legally of course). Get to him early in the game and lay some good tackles so he could reconsider running the ball or holding the ball for too long in the pocket. With mobile quarterbacks, if you punch them in the mouth, they’ll feel it and their game plan may very well change.
Why the Colts will lose
- As we all saw in the Oakland game, the Colts could not stop Terrelle Pryor from running and throwing all over them. Colin Kaepernick is much better than Pryor and can take advantage easily with his arm of legs.
- A determinant in this game is Aldon Smith’s availability. If he wins up playing, the Colts will have their hands full dealing with the superior 49ers pass rush. They know how to get to the quarterback fast and efficiently and if they do, it’ll force Luck to make mistakes on the road in which he is known for doing.
- Trent Richardson is a detriment to the team due to being unable to grasp the offense right away and makes mistakes. A player of his skill set deserves to be the starting running back right away but since every offense is different, it may take some time in grasping that as he barely arrived at the Colts complex and practiced Thursday.
This game will be a measuring stick to see where the Colts are right now. Although a win would do wonders for the team and the franchise, how the Colts may lose the game will determine where the Colts stand whether they are pretenders or contenders. I think the 49ers will be molten hot after getting embarrassed last week in Seattle and will win this game. The Colts will put up a fight but the 49ers will come away with a close win.
Colts 27 – 49ers 31