In the opening game of this NFL season, the Indianapolis Colts got some heroics from their quarterback, along with some late help by the defense, as they scored a win over Oakland. On Sunday, the “Cardiac Colts” look to make it two in a row as they tackle the Miami Dolphins, also victors in their opening game, at Lucas Oil Stadium, with kickoff set for 1 PM ET.
In the NFL lines that have been posted on this game at Bet365, the Colts are the favorites:
Indianapolis Colts -2
Miami Dolphins +2
Over 43.5 Points -110
Under 43.5 Points -110
Andrew Luck led the Colts on a fourth-quarter comeback. What else is new? He did that seven times last season. But it’s the fact that he HAD to do that which gives us concerns here about laying too many points. Indy got off to a 14-0 lead against Oakland, but then relinquished that lead to a team with a very inexperienced quarterback. They let that quarterback (Terrelle Pryor) rush for over 100 yards, and they had to make an interception near the end of the game to save themselves. In between that fast start and the dramatic finish, they dozed off at times.
One of Indianapolis’ concerns was trying to put together a running game, so that Luck wouldn’t have so much pressure heaped upon him. Ahmad Bradshaw had 26 yards on seven carries, and Vin Ballard was the bigger contributor, with 63 yards. So they are perhaps getting to that place – slowly. But owner Jim Irsay has put out the memo – via Twitter – that the Colts (-130 on the money line at Bet365) have to do a better job protecting their franchise quarterback.
Luck wants for newly-acquired Darrius Heyward-Bey to be the big downfield threat, and he had three catches in the opener. Reggie Wayne is still his go-to guy (eight receptions, 96 yards). Ideally, this Indianapolis offense will be able to stretch out defenses with at least three receivers who have to be accounted for – Wayne and Heyward-Bey, in addition to speedy T.Y. Hilton.
You’d have to call the Miami offense a work in progress. Ryan Tannehill is developing as a quarterback; he doesn’t have the pedigree or the experience Luck has, even though they came into the league at the same time. He was able to connect on 24 of 38 passes for 272 yards against Cleveland, and Brian Hartline (nine catches, 114 yards) is still his favorite, though Brandon Gibson, who came over from St. Louis in the off-season, was also a solid performer (seven catches, 77 yards). But Mike Wallace didn’t appear to be happy, as he caught just one pass. Certainly the Browns were paying extra attention to him, but he will have to shake loose if he is going to be the deep threat coach Joe Philbin is looking for.
The problem with the Dolphins is that they had no running game whatsoever (23 rushes for 20 yards). Reggie Bush was allowed to leave as a free agent, and they hoped Lamar Miller could replace him. That didn’t happen, at least in the opener.
But the Miami defense could be something to contend with. The Dolphins got some nice pressure on Cleveland’s Brandon Weeden, chalking up seven sacks and intercepting him three times. This won’t be an easy puzzle for Luck to solve, especially since he seemed to be bothered by the pressure the Raiders sent at him. The Dolphins’ defensive linemen registered al their sacks, which is a very encouraging sign. If you can get sufficient pressure without having to blitz all that much, you’re going to stand a lot better chance in coverage.
Last season, at this same venue, the Colts eked out a 23-20 victory, with 419 yards from Luck. This year, will they need all that much “luck” to do the same? Well, let’s put it this way – they’ll need less if Miami can’t generate a ground attack.