Week 13: Indianapolis Colts At Detroit Lions
- QuarterbackAndrew Luck is a gunslinger in his first year as an NFL quarterback. While he was well-known for his physical tools coming into the season – arm strength, quick release, intelligence and athleticism – he plays the game like a 10-year veteran. He refuses to take safe throws. He looks for the window and throws the ball downfield.Matthew Stafford has no trouble accumulating passing yards. However, he does have a problem stringing wins together. The Lions believe that when Stafford has time to survey the field, he will deliver an accurate pass to his receivers. However, he has nearly as many interceptions (10) as touchdowns (12) and he is surrounded by inconsistent players and coaches.
- OffenseThe Colts get just enough from their running game to take some much needed pressure off of Luck. Vick Ballard and Donald Brown are not a stellar 1-2 punch, but they can grind out key first downs when the Colts need them. Reggie Wayne is having a renaissance year and could be an All-Pro by the end of the season. T.Y. Hilton has the speed to become a gamebreaker.The Lions want to beat you with big plays. If they are forced to drive the field with eight or more plays, they are going to have a difficult time avoiding mistakes. Calvin Johnson once again has big numbers in terms of receptions and yardage (73 for 1,257), but he only has four touchdowns. Brandon Pettigrew can get open and make solid plays from the tight end position.
- DefenseThe Colts are not an elite defense by any stretch, but they hit hard and maintain their aggressiveness for 60 minutes. Part of that comes from the relentless attitude that cancer-battling coach Chuck Pagano brought with him from Baltimore. Inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman is not a star but he leads the Colts with 101 tackles. Speedy defensive end Robert Mathis (7.0 sacks) is a pass rushing force.The Lions will punish opponents and have been solid statistically, but a lack of discipline often causes problems. Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh is one of the most feared interior linemen in the league and he is also one of the dirtiest. The Lions hit hard, but they miss a lot of tackles and fail to come up with big stops when they need them.
- Special TeamsAdam Vinatieri may not be automatic kicker he was earlier in his career, but he is still very productive when the game is on the line. He made both of his field goal attempts in the Week 12 win over the Bills. Hilton had a 75-yard punt return for a score against Buffalo that set the tone for the Colts.The Lions have struggled with their coverage teams all year. They could have a very difficult time containing the explosive Hilton. Placekicker Jason Hanson has made 21-of-24 FG attempts this season and Nick Harris excels at killing the ball inside the 10.
On paper, there is little comparison between these two teams. The Lions have significantly more physical talent. However, the confidence and the direction surrounding the Colts is quite positive, while the Lions always wonder what will go wrong next. Detroit has made mistakes throughout the year and it likely continues here.