We’re coming to the close of Week 2 in the NFL, and significant injuries have already been unkind to many teams, the Philadelphia Eagles and Indianapolis Colts included. Philadelphia will play Indianapolis in Lucas Oil stadium, where Andrew Luck has a 13-3 record since being drafted by the team as the first overall pick three years ago. Will homefield advantage be the edge that the Colts need?
The good news for the Birds is that Indianapolis will be without Pro Bowl linebacker Robert Mathis, who led the league last season with 19.5 sacks. Mathis was serving a 4-game suspension for violating the league’s drug policy but is now out for the season, tearing his Achilles while training. The Colts also will be without inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman, who was their leading tackler both of the last two seasons.
Hopefully Indy’s D, absent of star power, will help Philadelphia’s patchwork offensive line. Chip Kelly is pleased at how quickly veteran guard Wade Smith is picking everything up, and is already splitting reps at left guard with Dennis Kelly, in Evan Mathis. Andrew Gardner is in at right tackle, taking over for Allen Barbre, who was the fill-in for Lane Johnson as he serves his 4-game PED suspension.
While the o-line is decided matter of concern for Philadelphia, the amount of playmakers on the offense is not. Look for QB Nick Foles to put in a performance more like the second half of the season opener against the Jaguars than the first. The Colts are struggling to contain tight ends this season, which means that Brent Celek and Zach Ertz may have a field day. And LeSean McCoy now has Darren Sproles to share the load on running duty, and we may even see a peek at Chris Polk on the road. Add to this the fact that Mac is back–Jeremy Maclin had a solid debut in his return from injury–and the Eagles should have little trouble getting points on the board.
While Indy may not have the big names on defense on the moment, they have one of the best quarterbacks in the league to lead their offensive attack. Just in his third season in the league, Luck is strong, athletic, poised and precise. Luck’s weapons include receivers Reggie Wayne, T.Y. Hilton and Hakeem Nicks. He also has tight ends Dwayne Allen, returning from injury, as well as favorite Coby Fleener. The team has almost no rushing game to speak of, with the team likely regretting their trade with the Browns for Trent Richardson more each week. He and Ahmad Bradshaw are sharing the team’s rushing “load,” if you can call it that–the Colts ran just nine times last week against the Broncos.
If the Eagles have a lead late in the game, don’t get too comfortable. The young QB has made a name for himself as the fourth-quarter comeback king.
This will be a good test to see just what the Eagles defense can do against a prolific passing attack. Big production will be needed from the secondary to keep Luck’s boys at bay. CB Brandon Boykin, who saw only 32 percent of snaps last week, should see more time on the field and Cary Williams will need to be on top of his game in the defensive backfield.
This Monday night game could turn into a shoot out. Even with all of the assets that come with Luck, this Indy group doesn’t look like the strong teams of the past two seasons. It will be an exciting matchup that will see Philadelphia get the edge.
Prediction: Eagles 33, Colts 28