2. Colts have to defend against big plays better
It's been a painful few weeks for the Colts' defense. Indianapolis' last three opponents — the Saints, Browns, and Jaguars — have combined to score 114 points against them. There are multiple factors at play here, but one of the biggest issues has been the Colts' tendency to get burned by explosive plays.
Against the Saints, wide receiver Rashid Shaheed posted 153 yards on just three catches, including a 58-yard score. Cleveland running back Jerome Ford ran for a 69-yard touchdown on the first drive. In Jacksonville, both Christian Kirk and Travis Etienne scored on plays of 20-plus yards. Conceding a big play can be a demoralizing dagger to a unit that's already banged up and suffering.
The Panthers haven't produced a ton of offensive fireworks so far this year but that doesn't mean they can't. Receivers Adam Thielen, Jonathan Mingo, and DJ Chark Jr. can all be vertical threats and Young has enough arm strength to make deep throws. However, if the Colts can take away the downfield danger, Carolina's passing game suddenly becomes a lot more one-dimensional.