Colts-Lions Matchup Has Potential to Be High-Scoring Affair
When the Indianapolis Colts and Detroit Lions take the field this Sunday for their season opener, it might be a defensive struggle, but not in the usual sense. Rather than the defenses slugging their opponents and keeping them off of the scoreboard, in this matchup, the defenses might struggle to keep their opponents under the 30-point mark.
Both defenses are vulnerable – especially against the pass – and both teams have a track record of giving up large point totals. Both teams allowed 30 or more points four times last year, in fact. But this matchup and its potential to be a barn-burner is more about the high-caliber offenses that the Colts and Lions tote. Two explosive offenses versus two weakened defenses could make for one high-scoring affair.
For the Lions, they may have lost All-Pro receiver Calvin Johnson to retirement in the offseason, but they did acquire Marvin Jones and Anquan Boldin to join Golden Tate, Eric Ebron, Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick. Detroit has been among the league’s worst rushing offenses in recent years, so it might be much of the same this week – fireworks coming from the right arm of quarterback Matthew Stafford.
Stafford and Jones seem to have already found chemistry during the preseason as well, connecting on plays like this…
When you also consider that the Colts have a struggling pass rush, their linebackers struggle in coverage, Pro-Bowl cornerback Vontae Davis will be out (ankle) and recent free-agent pickup Antonio Cromartie, who did not play in the preseason, will likely take his place, the advantage goes to the Lions. The Colts’ safety duo will also be made up of a 35-year-old veteran and a rookie making his first regular season start.
On defense, Detroit no longer has veterans Stephen Tulloch and Rashean Mathis, though they have added Rafael Bush and young talent like A’Shawn Robinson. During the preseason, their first-team defense was susceptible to allowing chunk plays, and there were some missed opportunities by opposing offenses that would've damaged Detroit even worse. The same can be said for the Colts defense, though, the Philadelphia Eagles game in particular. They allowed recently-traded quarterback Sam Bradford look like a Pro-Bowler, going 17-of-20 passing for 167 yards and 2 touchdowns.
The Cincinnati Bengals were able to put some really nice drives together a few weeks ago in Detroit. An example of some effective plays they used were, on two occasions, they got the ball out of quarterback Andy Dalton's hands quickly with smoke routes to Brandon Tate. The plays were fairly productive (Tate had 23 yards on the 2 receptions), and those are plays that you could easily see drawn up by Colts offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski this week for TY Hilton, Donte Moncrief and Phillip Dorsett. Opponents have also been able to get open in the middle of the field on deep crossing routes, something that the Colts' receivers execute very well.
Cincinnati was also able to run the ball well against the Lions in a limited sample size. Jeremy Hill, for example, carried the ball three times for 16 yards and a touchdown, and two of the carries went for eight and nine yards, respectively. Hill and Giovani Bernard also got involved in the passing game, something that Colts running backs Frank Gore and Robert Turbin are both capable of doing.
Dating back to 1991, in the last six games of the Colts-Lions series, at least one of the teams has scored 30 points. The last time that these two teams met in 2012, the Colts completed a 35-33 come-from-behind victory with a game-winning touchdown with no time left on the clock.
The game may or may not involve a "buzzer beater" to win the game like in 2012, but there is a great chance that is just as high-scoring.
Jake Arthur is the AFC South Newsdesk Manager, Assistant Director of NFL Content and a Featured Analyst for Pro Football Spot. He is also a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. Follow @JakeArthurPFS on Twitter as well as on Facebook, Google+ and FanCred.
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