I apologize to Mechem for putting a picture of Peyton Manning on the front page. I also apologize to the people who fall victim to his resulting rage.
While scrolling my twitter feed, I saw an interesting stat. The Colts are 0-2 for the first time since 1998. It should be no surprise to anyone that that is the year that Peyton Manning took over their offense. Since 1999, the Colts have been the most dominant regular season team, winning 138 of 193 contests. That makes them the only team with a win percentage of 70% or better from 1999-2011. I have always known that Manning was a huge influence on their success, but I had no idea how influential he was until this year. In their 0-2 start the Colts have looked awful, despite having little turnover after a 10-6 season with a playoff birth. But, exactly how bad has it been?
Colts Offensive Line vs. Steelers DL/OLB
Lets start by looking at their offensive line. Over the years, their offensive line situation has been the complete opposite of ours. We have had that everlasting debate about whether our OL is responsible for sacks or if Ben holding on to the ball is the culprit. In Indy, their OL might be really talented or they look a lot better because Peyton Manning gets the ball out so fast. In both cases, it is probably a combination of the two issues.
Anyway, so far their line has been arguably the worst in the league. In just two games, the unit has given up 22 QB pressures and 5 sacks from two teams whose pass rushes were in the bottom 10 of the league last year. Their RT, Jeff Linkenbach has been particularly bad. He is responsible for 1 sack of those sacks and 8 QB pressures. This match-up is extremely favorable for the Steelers, with Pro Bowl OLB LaMarr Woodley lining up across from him. Right next to Linkenbach, is RG Ryan Diem, who is also having a really rough start to the season. Diem has allowed 2 hits on his QB and 5 QB pressures. If Aaron Smith can play like he did against Seattle, he should dominate this match up and demand a double team to prevent him from blowing up runs and getting to the QB. On the left side of the line, things look a little bit better. LT Anthony Castonzo has been solid for a rookie so far. I expect that to change when he matches up against All-World OLB, James Harrison.
Colts Cornerbacks vs. Steelers WRs
Both of the Colts starting CBs are giving up a 78% completion rate. Those are both small sample sizes, but Jacob Lacey is coming off a 74% completion rate last year and Jerraud Powers at 65%, neither which are very good. Strike that, they're very bad. I think the chance of Mike Wallace having another 100 yard game is very likely. I assume Lacey will line up against Wallace because his 40 time is about a tenth of a second faster at 4.41 to Powers's 4.5. If he tries to play bump and run coverage, I like the chances of Wallace getting over top. If he gives a cushion we will probably see Wallace get a bunch of underneath receptions again. Or they could cheat the safety over the top, but that leaves a lot of room for Hines Ward, Emmanuel Sanders, and Antonio Brown to roam.
Colts RBs/TEs vs. Steelers LBs
You should be familiar with Dallas Clark and Joseph Addai, two talented offensive weapons. Despite a woeful offensive showing so far this season, Joseph Addai has actually been good. He only has 103 yards, but he is sporting a very nice 4.7 yards per carry. Additionally, he has 50 yards receiving on just 6 catches. With such healthy numbers, you have to wonder why they are not giving him the ball more. I am not sure how much of his speed Addai still has at 28, but I like the chances of Timmons and Farrior limiting his impact. Timmons is leading the league in stops (13) and will look to add to that total this weekend. One thing I do find interesting that has not gotten a lot of press is the playing time for Larry Foote. His 41 snaps this season is 37 more than he played in all of the playoffs last year.
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