I never stop being surprised at how team and player fortunes can swing from week to week in the NFL. After the Rams loss, Colts fans were staring into the abyss and wondering about the possibility of a Top 3 draft pick. An overtime loss to the Cardinals moved the Colts to 0-2, but a trio of young defensive backs, a stout run defense, and Tolzien carrying a clipboard energized the town. And bless the schedule maker, the winless (but somehow favored) Browns come to town at just the perfect time for the Colts.
I also have new found confidence in my predictions after not being shutout last week and I am fairly certain you can bank on the following happening Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium:
- The Colts will hold the Browns under 75 yards rushing as a team. The Browns have 150 yards on the ground after two games and are led by running backs Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson. Rookie QB DeShone Kizer must also be contained in the pocket as he currently is second on the team in rushing with 43 yards. The Colts defense has given up 146 rushing yards but is limiting runners to 2.5 yards per carry; almost a yard under what the Browns are averaging as a team per run. I believe the defensive line holds early and forces the Browns to throw the ball more than they would like to try to get first downs.
- Rookie S Malik Hooker (pictured) made the most of his first career start last week against the Cardinals recording his first interception and being named the NFL Rookie of the Week. It feels like he is going to have another big game playing centerfield against Kizer who struggles on deep passes. Hooker will grab his second career pick in the game and will anchor a rapidly improving secondary.
- Frank Gore will produce over 100 yards from scrimmage (rushing and receiving) and will score a touchdown. While QB Jacoby Brissett is an exciting young player developing before our eyes, he will lean on Gore this week to move the chains and to keep the defense near the line so that he can take a couple shots deep to his receivers. Gore needs just 107 rushing yards this week to pass former Colts RB Eric Dickerson for 7th place in NFL history.
Despite a few surprises on the growing injury list, the Colts are ready to play their best game. As they stuff the Browns running game and push the pocket into the backfield, the Colts will force a couple of turnovers which Brissett will convert into points. Vegas is uncanny at knowing how a game will unfold, but I say they are wrong this week and believe the Colts will win 27-10.