The Indianapolis Colts (3-4) host the New Orleans Saints (3-4) in a must-win game for both teams if they want to stay in their respective conference playoff races. The Saints had big expectations this season with the addition of QB Derek Carr and the already strong defense. They have underwhelmed a bit this season but they are still in the hunt due to the weakness of the NFC South.
Indy has been exceeding expectations, but have lost the two, and have been dealing with some serious misfortune. However, with the October 31 trade deadline looming, this will be a big game. Lets dive into some key points of emphasis if the Colts want to stay in the playoff hunt in the AFC.
Colts must limit turnovers
This was mentioned by Shane Steichen in his opening Week 8 presser, that the team must protect the football better. The guilty culprit for the turnovers has been Colts starting quarterback Gardner Minshew. He has eight turnovers in his last two starts. The odds of winning a football game with that many turnovers is nearly impossible.
The Colts were still in the game last week until the last drive, even with all the turnovers. The Saints defense is ranked fourth in total defense and is one of the best third-down defenses in the league. If Steichen can draw up a similar offensive gameplan that we saw against the Cleveland Browns, and cut the turnovers in half, Indy will have a terrific chance at a victory on Sunday.
Colts defense must contain Alvin Kamara
We saw at the beginning of the season; this Indianapolis defense had some trouble slowing down opposing teams top receiver. With Chris Olave’s status up in the air for Sunday’s game, Alvin Kamara could be the team’s top offensive workhorse in the air and on the ground. Kamara is a unique back that can do it all. While his strength is outside the tackles, he can get some yardage inside the tackles if needed.
He is also one of the best receiving backs in the league. In the four games that he has played this season, (suspended the first three) he has 35 catches for 177 yards. The Colts linebackers will have to handle most of the duties on Kamara and the matchup with him against the NFL’s leader in tackles, Zaire Franklin, will be a key matchup to watch this weekend.
Colts must finish the game strong
The Colts have struggled this season at home and have been unable to close out games, outside of the Tennessee game at home. They blew a fourth-quarter lead in the opener to Jacksonville. They lost in overtime to the Rams in overtime and they allowed PJ Walker and the Browns to close out the game on a game-winning drive in Week 7— regardless that the NFL officials blew the calls in the endzone, the team still allowed themselves to be in that position and could not finish the job.
You can even go back to last season where they lost a one-point game to the Philadelphia Eagles and finished the season with a home loss to the Houston Texans by one point as well. With so much youth on the team, it’s imperative that they start winning some of these close games at home. The more confidence they can build at home in these close games the more it will help them down the line, especially towards the end of the season if they are on the road and trying to grab a playoff spot.