1. Colts must be stout in the trenches on defense
Averaging just 18.1 points per game, Carolina's offense has been sluggish all season. There is room for improvement across the roster but the Panthers' offensive line has been a particular area of concern. According to ESPN Analytics, Carolina has the 14th-worst pass block win rate and second-worst run block win rate this season. The result of that poor o-line play is the Panthers allowing 3.6 sacks — fourth-most in the league — and only rushing for 90 yards per game.
If Indianapolis can take advantage of this vulnerability and make Young uncomfortable in the pocket while neutralizing the running game, Carolina will inevitably struggle to generate offense. Even in the Week 8 win, the Panthers only managed 15 points as Houston piled on six sacks, 10 QB hits, and 10 tackles for loss.
The Colts' defensive line may not be as statistically effective as the Texans' but there's still enough talent — even without defensive tackle Grover Stewart — to stifle this Carolina offense. In fact, with Indianapolis boasting the sixth-highest-scoring offense in the league, the Colts really only need to be around average on defense to win this game.