Last week, well let's pretend last week never happened, shall we? This week the Colts face a winnable game against the Titans who also got spanked last week, only at home and to a slightly worse team than the one who best the Colts. Here's what to watch for:
1. Watch for random stats that have no direct bearing on the game but interest me, so I want to bring them up here. From 2000-2009, there have been 57 players taken from picks 27-32 in the NFL draft. 14 of them became Pro Bowlers. 1/4 players picked in the bottom 5-6 picks of the first round went to the Pro Bowl. The Colts have drafted after pick 27 SEVEN TIMES in that span (eight if you count 2010). They drafted two Pro Bowlers (Wayne and Addai). That's 29% Pro Bowlers in the first round, just above league average. Note that twice, they didn't pick at all in the first round, and went 1/2 (Sanders and Ugoh). Now PLEASE can we stop talking about how 'bad' the Colts drafts have been? It's like people never bother to look at what kind of talent is actually there. By the way, from 2007-2009, no pick from 27-32 has made a Pro Bowl. None. Oh, and no one in the first 5 picks of the second round has either. Yes, no one picked from 27-37 has made a Pro Bowl since 2006.
2. Watch for the back who can't run verses the defense who can't tackle. Chris Johnson has been a mess, looking like a shell of his former self. The Colts run defense has collapsed since Nevis and Foster went down. Johnson has been going out of his way to avoid contact, which could be good for him this week, as the Colts defenders also frequently avoid contact. This game could be like watching a set of magnets with their poles reversed. Just fields bouncing off of each other.
3. Watch what could have been. Matt Hasselbeck has played well for the Titans, and rumor has it that the Colts wanted him. Perhaps had Hasselbeck signed in Indy, the Colts would be 2-5 right now! His passer rating of 87.7 is respectable, but I don't think it can be sustained. Still, it's a little better than Painter's, as his his sack rate. He's thrown 6 picks though, and there might be a lot more coming. Painter's rating was never going to stay high as it was inflated by a few bombs to Garcon. It's hard to stay in the 90s while barely completing 50% of your passes.
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4. Watch for damned if you do and damned if you don't. If this team starts to win, people will rip the team for not being better prepared at the start to deal with the loss of Manning. If they keep losing, the angst will get out of control. I feel like I shot my wad before the season with my analysis of the 2011 Colts. The minute Peyton went down, I crashed into a massive depression, because this mess is what I knew was coming. I suffered a season's worth of losses in one afternoon. There's not much to say at this point. We just have to ride it out. It'll be better next year.
5. Watch for the return of 'Who to Root For!' Everyone's favorite piece is back starting tomorrow. Even I'm stoked. I'm rooting for the Colts every week. It's bad karma not to, right? But that won't stop me from rooting for the 'Fins and Rams to win some games too. I'm now officially a fan of every bad NFL team. That means you Jacksonville! I'm on the bandwagon. Glitter up and jump on the tarp because the Jags bandwagon is rolling out of the station!
6. Watch for the cushion. Polian said the players were giving too much cushion this week. I don't buy it. After this long, if the players don't know where to line up, that's still the coaches fault. Either all the DBs are morons, or someone has failed to teach them how to play the world's easiest defensive scheme. Either way, it's a coaching issue. I expect the Colts to play up on the Titans a little more this week, if only as a point to show fans what ensues when Indy DBs play TOO close.
7. Watch for a familiar story. I think this game will be close going into the fourth quarter. Then I think Painter will fumble, throw a pick, trip, or something. Titans win 27-17 after a return for a score. In other words, just play a tape of weeks 2-6.