Predicting what will happen in an NFL game is rarely easy. It is even less so on opening week, with several starters out with injuries, with multiple young players starting on both sides of the ball, against a team led by new Defensive guru Wade Phillips, and with a head coach fighting for his job and desperately needing to avoid the annual slow start to the season.
With all of those caveats firmly established as a basis to justify any wildly wrong guesses, I see the following happening today:
- Colts TE Jack Doyle will reach 100 yards receiving in a game for the first time in his career (career high is 78 set last season against the Titans). As the Rams focus on taking away offensive threats Hilton and Moncrief, Doyle becomes Tolzien’s primary target as the Rams rush forces quick throws and decisions. Doyle continues to prove to the Colts that investing in him was a wise move.
- WR Donte Moncrief will score a touchdown. Despite battling nagging injuries all preseason, Moncrief will put points on the board now that the games matter. I realize I’m not too far out on the proverbial limb with this prediction as he has scored 16 touchdowns in his 41 career regular season games. The Rams front seven will prevent Tolzien from finding his wideouts often, but in a close game I expect Moncrief to make a difficult catch in traffic for a score.
- Rookie CB Nate Hairston baits Rams QB Jared Goff into a poor throw and records the first interception of his career. Playing in his first regular season game after being drafted out of Temple in the fifth round of the 2017 NFL Draft, he outplays fellow defensive back rookies Malik Hooker (first round) and Quincy Wilson (second round). Hairston recorded 8 tackles in preseason games.
I’m going against mainstream media prognostications and believe the Colts open the season on the road with a 17-14 upset victory over the Rams. It could be a sloppy, low-scoring, and aesthitically unpleasing game, but the Colts do just enough to limit the Rams offense while putting ageless kicker Adam Vinateri in position to ice the game with a fourth quarter field goal.