7 Things To Watch For: Colts and Browns
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INDIANAPOLIS – Underdogs for a second straight home game, the Indianapolis Colts will be looking for their first win of the season on Sunday afternoon.
Chuck Pagano and his team have been in this position for---facing an 0-3 start to the season.
With Jacoby Brissett back under center in Week Three, here are seven things to watch for in the Colts and Browns meeting at Lucas Oil Stadium.
1. Brissett’s Second Act
-On Sept. 2, the Colts traded for Jacoby Brissett. Some 22 days later, Brissett will be making his second start with the Indianapolis Colts. Brissett’s starting debut in Indy was good enough for this team to earn a victory. Look for the Colts to expand their playbook situationally this week (i.e. third down and in the red zone part) for the 23-year-old quarterback.
2. 0-2 Mindset
-In Week Three victories each of the last two seasons, the Colts have walked a very fine line in narrowly avoiding an 0-3 start. The Colts must play like the desperate football team they most certainly are this weekend. With their next three home games against the Browns, 49ers and Jaguars, there’s an opportunity present to quickly turn this thing around.
3. Control Kizer
-Notre Dame rookie DeShone Kizer is the next in line of quarterbacks for the Cleveland Browns. The 2017 second-round pick has struggled early on with four interceptions, nine sacks and a 57.4 percent completion percentage. Kizer’s throwing delivery is a work in progress so the Colts need to keep him in the pocket and not let him make plays off script with his legs.
4. Statement Game for Wide Receivers
-Outside of Jack Doyle, the Colts’ pass catchers did not come to the aid of Jacoby Brissett in Week Two. Timing between the receivers and Brissett should be better after another three practices this week to solidify the newness of QB and WRs. Donte Moncrief is the one to watch with this group, as he had just two catches in eight targets in last week’s overtime loss.
-Until Andrew Luck gets back, the Colts probably will not have many 10-point fourth-quarter leads this season. They had one last week before everything fell apart in the final eight minutes. Each phase of the game was at fault for the Colts last week, including five penalties in the game’s final quarter. If such an opportunity presents itself again, will the Colts be able to make the plays to slam the door shut?
6. Secondary Becoming a Strength?
-It’s looking like that could be coming with how the rookie defensive backs played last week and the returns to practice from Vontae Davis and Darius Butler. It needs to happen because the Colts are currently ranked 31st in pass defense, which isn’t solely indicative of how the back end of the defense has played in two weeks. Colts’ fans should be excited about watching Quincy Wilson at corner and Malik Hooker at safety for years to come.
7. Sizzling Hot Seat
-The chatter surrounding the future of Chuck Pagano in Indianapolis will grow even louder on Sunday if the Colts lose to the Browns. Cleveland has lost 20 of 21 regular season games and has its own issues with injuries and counting on the youngest roster in the NFL. A loss on Sunday for the Colts would put them at 0-3 for just the second time since 1998.
Bowen’s Prediction: Colts, 23-20. I’m going with the Colts in the "Ryan Grigson Bowl." In looking at the 2017 Browns, I don’t see enough strides yet for me to pick them in Week Three. DeShone Kizer has been really inconsistent, injuries have hurt some impact players on both sides of the ball and you’ve got a really desperate Colts’ team waiting on Sunday. Another week of intense playbook learning for Jacoby Brissett should help the Indy offense put together a few more scoring/touchdown drives. It might not be the prettiest thing in the world, but the Colts are going to find a way to avoid a 0-3 start for the fourth straight season.