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4.A significant absence. Colts running back Joseph Addai is questionable on the injury report after missing practice Friday and missing the last three games. Having worked on a limited basis Thursday, there seems a slightly better chance he’ll play than there was last week, it would be something of a surprise.
This is getting into the same old repetitive theme as has been playing all season on Indy Football Report, but the bigger the game and the better the opponent, the more the Colts miss Addai.
The Colts’ offense’s struggles have been well-documented in recent weeks, and there has been a lot written about the struggles of Manning during that period, but it’s no coincidence that Addai has been out those three games.
Yes, the Colts miss Dallas Clark and the tight end’s absence has been rightly attributed to some of the lack of smoothness. The biggest truth is that with so many players out, it’s impossible to pinpoint exactly what causes what problems where. Football doesn’t give itself to analysis in that fashion.
But Colts-Patriots often comes down to quality football players making big players in the highest of pressurized situations, and Addai’s special qualities an instinctive player are critical in such games.
3.Really? It’s been striking to read some of the concern over the play of Manning in recent weeks, most notably this piece by K.C. Jordan of ESPN suggesting Manning may be in decline.
This is not to pinpoint Jordan, but sometimes trying to analyze a player based on statistics and even poring over tape misses the big picture. He makes the point that Manning is having one of his worst seasons in recent memory, but the reality is through the first four or five games – before injuries took Clark and Addai out of the lineup – there was little difference in Manning statistically from past season and in fact, early on, he seemed very much on track to have one of his best statistical seasons.
Not going to spend sentence after sentence defending a player who needs no defense, but it’s interesting that Manning is playing against the New England Patriots and Brady this week.
There have been many seasons when Brady has put up routine numbers compared to Manning, but has been – correctly – lauded as an elite quarterback because he was grinding out victories despite difficult circumstance. Manning’s doing something similar this season and is perceived as being in decline.
Probably haven’t fleshed out that thought as much as possible, but it’s interesting.
2.A chance to shine. We’ll admit getting this idea from 18to88.com, which wrote this week that Colts wide receiver Pierre Garcon could have a big game Sunday. Not at all out of the realm of reason.
While Garcon has had more drops than is ideal this season, IFR isn’t ready to write him off as a very real weapon on the offense the way many seem to be.
And 18to18.com correctly points out that the Patriots’ secondary has struggled at times this season.
Garcon is a player with real play-making, game-breaking potential, and while many observers seem to be figuring he won’t be a major factor, the opposite could be true. Garcon has shown before he’s very capable of being a game-changing player.
Whether he can do so or not Sunday could be the primary issue to decide the outcome.
1.How the Colts can win. Won’t spend much time considering how the Patriots can win. One, we cover the Colts here at IFR and you won’t find many people nationally doubting the Patriots’ ability to do so.
The Colts’ task is difficult. The Patriots played well last week against Pittsburgh and the Colts will be visiting Foxboro for the first time since 2006. But it appears possible the Colts will have wide receiver Austin Collie back, and that wide receiver Blair White will be back, too, which gives Manning a skill position group of running back Donald Brown, Wayne, Collie, Jacob Tamme at tight end and White. That’s not the elite-level group many envisioned before the season, primarily because Clark won’t play, but it’s better than what Manning had to work with last week, and it’s hard to believe Manning won’t get better with a given group over time.
And not only have the Patriots struggled defensively this season, the Colts in recent seasons have been able to move efficiently against New England. The Colts’ defense has played well at times this season, and cornerbacks Kelvin Hayden and Jerraud Powers and Kelvin Hayden are healthy and playing at a high level. Same is true of Freeney and Mathis.
Will the Colts be favored? No. Will it be an impossible situation for them Sunday. Absolutely not.