The Indianapolis Colts play host to the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday afternoon at Lucas Oil Stadium. The 1-1 Falcons will look to generate some momentum following a thrilling 24-20 win over the Eagles on Sunday Night Football. It didn’t end up being a shootout, but it was a good game that came down to the final minutes. The game-winning play was a 4th down screen pass to Julio Jones that went the distance for 54 yards.
Defensive Coordinator, Jim Schwartz, was bringing the pressure all game long, which he did again on this play, and there wasn’t anybody over there once Julio broke the first level of the defense. The Falcons were able to get a couple of key blocks and Julio was off to the races. On the ensuing drive, the Eagles came close to taking the lead back, but a Nelson Agholor drop along the sideline ended up proving to be a huge mistake.
The Falcons needed the win after falling to the Vikings in Week 1 by a score of 28-12. They couldn’t afford to start this season at 0-2, especially a big matchup in primetime against the Eagles last week. The defense looked pretty good for the Falcons last week, but the Eagles were down DeSean Jackson for most of the game. The injuries kept coming for the Eagles in their receiving core. I will say that the Falcons’ defense is miles better than they were in the past.
There is a lot to like about the Falcons’ offense. They have who many consider the best receiver in the game and Calvin Ridley is ready for a breakout season in 2019. He’s a speedster and is already beginning to turn heads in his second season in the NFL. Ridley caught a touchdown and racked up 105 yards receiving a week ago. With Julio’s 106 yards, the two were exploiting the Eagles’ blitz attempts.
The key with this offense will be Matt Ryan playing at an All-Star level. If he can find that type of play, the Falcons are suddenly very dangerous offensively. He has no excuses with the weapons surrounding him on the field. Jacoby Brissett is going to be working with a banged up T.Y. Hilton this week, but he should be able to go despite the questionable tag. Head below for our free Falcons vs. Colts pick in Week 3 of the NFL.
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Falcons vs. Colts Pick:
The Colts are thanking their lucky stars that the knee injury to Pierre Desir didn’t turn out to be significant. At the time of the injury, reports were suggesting that Desir was going to at least miss a week. Keep in mind, though, that Desir will not be at 100% and the Colts are going to need all the help they can get against Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley. Desir is one of their top corners, so his presence will be welcome on the field for the Colts’ defense. Playing banged up is not going to help against a dynamic receiving core of the Falcons.
If Desir comes up limping in this game and can’t continue, the Colts will be forced to use Kenny Moore and second-round selection, Rock Ya-Sin, as their No. 1 and 2 cornerbacks in this matchup. The problem with that is Moore is better defending the slot. And then factoring in Ya-Sin is a rookie, that doesn’t sound like a successful formula against Jones, Ridley, and Sanu. As long as Matt Ryan has a decent game, the Falcons should be able to move the ball on the Colts.
Desir playing injured isn’t the Colts’ biggest loss, though. Darius Leonard, one of the most underrated defenders in the league, has been ruled out against the Falcons. Drafting Leonard was a big reason why the Colts’ defense went from 0 to 100 last season. Leonard is the best tackler and his absence will be felt. Along with Leonard, defensive end, Jabaal Sheard is out. In other words, Desir dressing up is awfully important for the defense.
T.Y. Hilton enters Sunday as questionable to play this week. He’s been limited in practice, and is likely going to play, but expect him to be limited with a quad injury. A quad could be bothersome to a speedy wideout like Hilton. The Falcons are 1st in the NFL with just 167 passing yards allowed per game. This isn’t the same team that had to rely on 30+ points a game to win.
A lot of people are high on the Colts this week and I can see why. However, the same people are ignoring the fact that their best defensive player is not playing this week. Leonard is one of the best defenders that no one is familiar with in the NFL. And while the Falcons’ win wasn’t too impressive against the Eagles, the Colts are coming off a slim lead over the Titans.
A nice win on the road, but after watching Marcus Mariota do nothing again against the Jags on Thursday night, most teams are going to find it easy to defend Mariota, not just the Colts. When they actually played a decent quarterback, Philip Rivers passed for 333 yards and 3 touchdowns in Week 1. And now the defense is injured going into this Sunday. They had Leonard, who has led the team in tackles the last two weeks, active in that one. This should be a good game, but key injuries likely catch up to the Colts here.