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Previews and Predictions: Indianapolis Colts vs. Washington Redskins

After starting the season on the road, the Redskins come home to face the Colts. It won't be easy as Andrew Luck has returned and will be a significant challenge to a young and inexperienced secondary and a defensive line who will now have to deal with a much more mobile and accurate quarterback than Sam Bradford. The big question is will the team be ready? The question of "will the team come out unprepared and flat?" will continue to dog Jay Gruden and his staff until the Redskins continue to play consistent and solid football. We know one thing for sure, the fans should be lively on Sunday. After going 1-0 with the victory over Arizona, some of the more zealous fans are already talking playoffs (*sigh*). Hopefully those fans will show up and be extremely loud in a stadium that doesn't have great acoustics. Also, I don't expect a great deal of Colts fans to be at FedEx. In my personal experience of going to Colts/Redskins games, their fan base doesn't tend to travel too well (this includes at least one of Peyton Manning's years in his prime).

So if you're going to FedEx on Sunday, BE LOUD!!!!! BE PROUD!!!!! Your team is 1-0 and tied for 1st in the NFC East. Help them get to 2-0. HTTR.
Enough cheerleading, let's look at the game.

Predicted Inactives:
Troy Apke (Hamstring)
Maurice Harris (Concussion)*
Samaje Perine
Geron Christian
Casey Dunn
Adonis Alexander
Shaun Dion Hamilton **

* Harris was cleared for limited practice this week and did practice with the team. I know he has experience with the offense but unless Paul Richardson is made inactive, I see the Redskins holding him out for another week until he can practice entirely with the team.
** I think the 'Skins make Brantley active this week, especially if Luck is going to throw the ball 50+ times again. You want to keep your DL as fresh as possible. That said, this depends on how quickly Brantley has picked up the defense and what is needed on special teams. With SDH being the 5th ILB I made him the guy to be inactive. I consider it to be a toss up this point.

Redskins Offense: This may be the game that we see the Redskins go vertical in the pass game. The Colts run a Tampa-2 scheme, so there will be opportunities for the team to attack seams in the zone and really cause some damage. Jordan Reed should have another good game as he will be seeing a great deal of MLB coverage in the middle of the field. Same could be said for Jamison Crowder and Vernon Davis. I still expect Chris Thompson to be used early and often in screens and passes into the flat. Again, I don't see the Colts having elite LBs or S to cover a speedster like Thompson in one on one situations. I also think early on that Thompson is Alex Smith's safety blanket.

We'll see if Adrian Peterson can repeat what he did last week. The word from various beat writers (in particular CSN's JP Finlay) is that AP is in such great shape that the effects of a 26 carry game didn't wear him down much at all. He may get some help this week as well with the Colts having one of their starting DTs (Denico Autry) out with a ankle injury.

The Colts defense doesn't seem to be nearly as tough as the Cardinals defense (I really think they are a better defense than how they played against the Redskins last week) and where the 'Skins ground out long drives last week, I don't see that happening as much this week. I expect some quick scoring early and maybe both teams getting a little pass happy at times that will lead to some quick three and outs. My hope is that the Redskins learn from last week and stay on the ground if it's working.

Colts Defensive Notes vs. Bengals

Sacks: DE, Margus Hunt (2)
Tackle leaders: SS, Clayton Geathers (7); CB, Nate Hairston (6); WLB, Darius Leonard (6)
INTs: DE, Al-Quadin Muhammed (1)
FF: Geathers (1); SS, Matthias Farley (1)

Redskins Defense: Last week the Redskins primary goal was to stop David Johnson. This week it's Andrew Luck and this may be a more difficult challenge. There is a good reason why Luck was drafted #1 overall in the 2012 draft. He has a dynamic and powerful arm. He's a smart player who can read schemes well and make smart plays. He is also big and mobile, so he can avoid rushes and extend plays. That said, Luck has missed a lot of time with injuries and can be streaky at times. When he's good, he's real good. When he's bad, he can throw back to back INTs. Luck is also a bit of a gunslinger and will throw INTs. Thus it is key for the secondary to take advantage of those situations and hold onto those picks. I expect the front seven to be much more exotic and blitz happy this week. The Colts have shown little success on the ground (last weeks top rusher numbers 14 carries/40 yards, 2.9 ypc). Their starter Marlon Mack may not play with a hamstring injury, so there will be less effort in run contain and more focus on Luck. Preston Smith should have an opportunity to thrive on Sunday. LT Anthony Castonzo is out. This means that either starting RT Joe Haeg will again start at LT or they will start Le'Raven Clark at LT. Clark has limited experience as a starter. Either way, the shake up on the line could be an issue. The interior of their OL is actually quite strong with C Ryan Kelly, LG Quenton Nelson and RG Matt Slauson. This should be a challenge for Ioannidis, Payne and Allen, but I feel that they will be up for the challenge. WR TY Hilton has been a solid weapon for Luck, but I would keep an eye on former Redskin Ryan Grant and TE Jack Doyle. All three were targeted equally (Hilton (11), Doyle (10), Grant (9) ). Grant is a solid possession WR who knows where the sticks are and runs his routes accordingly. TEs have give the Redskins issues and Doyle may be a challenge for Nicholson, Swearinger and Josh Harvey-Clemons.

Colts Offensive Notes:
Andrew Luck vs. Redskins (Career): (W-L) 1-0, 19/27 70.4% 370 yds, 5 TDs, 1 INT, 1 Sack

Andrew Luck (Last Week): 39/53 73.6% 319 yds, 2 TDs, 1 INT, 2 Sacks
Top Rusher: Jordan Wilkins 14 carries/40 yards
Top Receivers: Ryan Grant 8 Catches, 59 yards; Jack Doyle 7 catches, 60 yards, TY Hilton 5 catches, 46 yards, 1 TD

Redskins Special Teams:
Will Jamison Crowder or Greg Stroman be the punt returner with the loss of Trey Quinn? My guess is that Stroman gets the nod b/c I really believe that Crowder is now considered a starter and will not be returning punts unless it's an emergency. I could be wrong though, just a gut feeling. Also it will be interesting to see if Ladler, Quick and Chesson can be solid contributors on special teams. Weather might play a role on Sunday, so it will be critical for Dustin Hopkins to make his kicks and for Tress Way to pin the Colts as far back as possible.

Concerns: Flat game start or an early turnover could get the Colts into a position where it would be hard for the Redskins to regain momentum. Luck is going to be Luck, so it'll be up to the team to develop a passing game (which we haven't seen a lot yet) and put up points early and often. I have some slight concerns if this becomes a shootout.

Final Notes:
During Jay Gruden's tenure the Redskins are 3-1 in week 2 of the season but 1-3 in home openers.

Rain and minimal wind shouldn't play a significant role in the game, but the field may be wet and that means that the ball could be wet and fumbles could be an issue. I think the Redskins are a different team than previous years and will be up for this game. The crowd should be into it and with the Colts being a one dimensional team with some big injuries, the Redskins should be able to take advantage and win this game. But I don't think it will be easy. I expect Andrew Luck to have a good game despite the 'Skins getting to him from time to time. Not sure if the final score will be an indicator of a tough game or just the Colts scoring in garbage time but I think it will be closer than some are predicting.
Final Score: 34-23 Redskins
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