Jenna Watson/IndyStar via Imagn Content Services, LLC
After a tough loss last week to the Browns, Indy is looking for a way to bounce back and remain a winning team. On Sunday, they play Joe Burrow, and the 1-3-1 Cincinnati Bengals.
It’s important for the Colts to go into the bye week with a good taste in their mouths. Here are my players on offense and defense that will need big games in order to grab the victory.
Philip Rivers (QB)
This is an important week for Rivers. He did not perform well last week and made some awful decisions on the field. He’s a veteran, entering the 17th season of his career, and needs to play like one.
The second Rivers was signed by the Colts, everyone knew that Indy signed him to be an experienced quarterback who will throw some interceptions, but bounce back with a couple big plays and a touchdown. There has not been much of that at all this year, granted that may have something to do with the injuries and receiver and the struggling TY Hilton.
Through five games, Rivers has thrown just four touchdown passes and five interceptions. It’s not even the amount of interceptions that is so bothersome, it’s that somehow he has more picks than touchdowns.
The one big positive coming from Rivers is that he does have a completion percentage of 70.8% so far this year which, according to ESPN, is 6th in the league of all qualifying passers.
From a negative perspective, the Colts offense has been awful in the red zone. They have had a very difficult time getting the ball in the end zone this year. It seems to be a mix of poor play calls and bad decision making on the field. The Colts score a touchdown only 42.11% when in the red zone, which puts them at 29th in the league, ironically just one spot above the Bengals.
Rivers still needs to prove himself to Colts fans. Everyone is still waiting for that amazing breakout game. I don’t think it will be this week, but it’s important for Rivers to start progressing in that direction. Rivers will be needed to get the win on Sunday, but it’s more important that this game is used to put momentum on his side and he only gets better from here.
DeForest Buckner (DT)
One of the biggest additions to the Colts in the offseason, DeForest Buckner will need a solid game as well.
The Bengals have a pretty damaged offensive line, as well as a good but inexperienced quarterback taking the snaps. Buckner can and will use both of these things to his advantage on Sunday.
Defensive ends Justin Houston and Denico Autry are listed as ‘Questionable’ for Sunday’s game and even if they do play, it is hard to say how many meaningful snaps they will play in and how their injuries may affect their performance. Houston is having hip issues this week and Autry injured his ankle, so there may be some more playing time for the second string guys.
As mentioned, as good as Burrow is, he’s inexperienced in the NFL. If the Colts can find a way to disrupt his progressions, Burrow will make mistakes. The more mistakes, the better chance the Colts defense has at forcing punts and turning the ball over.
On the year Buckner has 23 total tackles, 11 solo, and 1.5 sacks. If the Colts can pull off a couple QB hits and maybe a sack early on in the game, Burrow may lose some confidence on drop backs.
I expect Buckner to have a strong game this week and make some big plays. The Colts will need him, especially with the question marks at defensive end. Keep an eye out for number 99 on Sunday.