Thu, 26 Nov 2020

2020 Colts Preview: Colts/Lions, Week 8

Indianapolis Colts
31 Oct 2020, 16:39 GMT+10

Fresh off their bye week, the Indianapolis Colts (4-2) on Sunday travel to take on the Detroit Lions (3-3), winners of two straight and three of their last four, at Ford Field. Check out the official game preview. Andrew Walker

INDIANAPOLIS - The Indianapolis Colts are well-rested, and are ready to continue their climb for the remaining 10 games of the regular season.

Standing in their way on Sunday? Another road matchup against an NFC North Division foe.

Fresh off their bye week, the Colts (4-2) travel to take on the Detroit Lions (3-3), winners of two straight and three out of their last four, at Ford Field.

Kickoff is at 1 p.m. ET.

Prior to getting a few precious days off, the Colts last week used the beginning of their bye week to, first and foremost, review the film from their dramatic come-from-behind Week 6 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals, and then they entered into a bit of a self-evaluation mode. The offense dug into its zone-rushing attack, as well as various situational opportunities, such as on third down and in the red zone. The defense, meanwhile, tried to key in on better execution in the first two quarters while also generating more consistent pressure up front.

"Coming off the bye week having a chance to get a little rest and get rejuvenated," head coach Frank Reich said earlier this week. "Everybody had a chance to get some rest, heal up in the few cases we needed to heal up (and) get ready for a great week of preparation for Detroit - obviously a good football team. Can't wait to get going."

The Lions, meanwhile, are coming off a dramatic victory of their own last week against the Atlanta Falcons, as quarterback Matthew Stafford connected with his young tight end, T.J. Hockenson, for an 11-yard touchdown pass as time expired in the fourth quarter; after an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, kicker Matt Prated then knocked in a 48-yard extra point to give Detroit the 23-22 road win. The Lions were only able to get a shot at a possible game-winning drive after Falcons running back Todd Gurley accidentally scored a touchdown instead of going down short of the goal line, milking the clock and setting up a potential game-winning field goal on the previous Atlanta drive.

"Just an amazing game," Lions head coach Matt Patricia said. "Unreal."

So what all should we be looking for when this thing kicks off? Here is the official game preview.

BROADCAST INFORMATION Sunday, Nov. 1, at 1 p.m. ET Detroit; Ford Field TV: CBS - Andrew Catalon (play-by-play), James Lofton (color), Michael Grady (sideline) Colts Official App (*Geographic and device restrictions apply. Local & primetime games only. Data charges may apply.) Colts.com mobile website (Safari browser ONLY) Yahoo! Sports mobile browser or app Click here for MORE WAYS TO WATCH. To find out what games will be on in your area, click here. Local radio: Colts games can be heard in Indianapolis on 93.5, 107.5 and 1070 The Fan and 97.1 HANK FM, plus the desktop version of Colts.com with Matt Taylor (play-by-play), Rick Venturi (color), Larra Overton (sideline) and Bill Brooks (pregame/postgame analyst) on the call. National radio: Fans can listen to the live local call on Colts.com (desktop only) and NFL Game Pass. Get your free seven-day trial by clicking here.

*Please check your local TV listing to confirm availability. iOS mobile web and app users should "Allow Location Access" (via Settings > Privacy > Location Services > Safari).

ALL-TIME SERIES Colts lead, 21-20-2; Colts are 10-9-1 all-time against the Lions on the road. Last game - Week 1 of 2016; Lions won, 39-35, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. COACHING STAFF

Colts:

HC Frank Reich OC Nick Sirianni DC Matt Eberflus STC Bubba Ventrone

Lions:

HC Matt Patricia OC Darrell Bevell DC Cory Undlin STC Brayden Coombs LAST WEEK

Colts:

Bye week

Lions:

Won at Atlanta Falcons (1-6), 23-22 INJURY UPDATE

Colts:

OUT - N/A DOUBTFUL - N/A QUESTIONABLE - TE Mo Alie-Cox (knee); C Ryan Kelly (knee)

Click here to read more on the injury report for Sunday's game.

Lions:

OUT - N/A DOUBTFUL - N/A QUESTIONABLE - T Taylor Decker (shoulder), LB Jaylen Reeves-Maybin (not injury related), CB Darryl Roberts (groin/hip), CB Desmond Trufant (hamstring) STORYLINES/THINGS TO WATCH Significance of a solid start - The Colts have dug themselves in significant holes in their past two games against the Cleveland Browns and the Cincinnati Bengals. Against the Browns in Week 5, Indy found itself down 20-10 at halftime, and then 27-10 early in the third quarter, before clawing their way back into the ballgame, but ultimately losing, 32-23. Against the Bengals in Week 6, the Colts trailed 21-0 after the first play of the second quarter, but thanks to some heroics by quarterback Philip Rivers, as well as a few key adjustments made by the defense, Indy was able to pull out a 31-27 victory. Frank Reich's crew knows it can't keep stumbling out of the gates as it has of late, and that will be especially key against the Lions on Sunday, who are outscoring their opponents by a combined 25 points in the first quarter of their six games this season. This is likely one of those "easier said than done" type of situations, but the Colts will be doing themselves a huge favor on Sunday if they can limit the turnovers and three-and-outs on offense, and also be able to tighten things up, especially against the pass, on defense early on. Bye week adjustments - One advantage the Colts will have heading into Sunday's game is the rest factor; Indy is coming off its bye week, while Detroit is coming off an emotional, physical road win over the Falcons. As mentioned, Indy used a chunk of its bye week to go into "self-scout" mode, looking at all three phases of their game and finding a couple key areas they have liked so far, and a couple key areas that need improvement. On offense, the Colts want to run the ball better, particularly in its inside and outside zone schemes, as Indy heads into Sunday's game ranked last in the NFL in yards-per-carry average (3.6); Reich and offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni also want to see better production in key situations, such as converting third downs (the Colts rank 23rd in the league at 39.19 percent) and getting touchdowns when they get in the red zone (the Colts rank 27th in this category at 52.17 percent). Defensively, other than shoring up the aforementioned first-half struggles, the Colts want to do a better job getting more consistent pressure up front; while Indy ranks 14th in the league in sack percentage, it ranks 25th in the league in generating pressure overall, according to Pro Football Focus. If the Colts can begin chipping away at these areas, specifically, on Sunday against the Lions, then they'll really set themselves up well for an extremely tough middle portion of their schedule. Slow down Golladay - Simply put, the Lions have been rejuvenated by their top offensive weapon, wide receiver Kenny Golladay, who suffered a hamstring injury four days before their season opener and ended up missing the first two games of the season; Detroit went 0-2 over the stretch and struggled to consistently move the ball through the air. But since Golladay was able to return in Week 3, the Lions are 3-1, and the fourth-year Northern Illinois product is once again emerging as one of the top big-play receivers in the NFL, as he heads into Sunday's matchup with 20 receptions for 338 yards and two touchdowns. A huge target for veteran quarterback Matthew Stafford, the 6-foot-4, 214-pound Golladay is also one of the best go-up-and-get-it receivers in the league; he led the NFL in both touchdown receptions (11) and receptions of 20 or more yards last season. One can imagine Golladay is going to get plenty of attention from a variety of Colts defenders on Sunday. WHAT THE LIONS ARE SAYING Matt Patritica On Philip Rivers Matthew Stafford On Colts' Defense Ohara's Scouting Report: Indianapolis Colts Lions Face Huge Challenge In Colts' Defense Detroit Lions Injury Report INTRIGUING MATCHUPS Colts DT Grover Stewart vs. Lions C Frank Ragnow - Stewart, the Colts' run-stuffing specialist up front, gets an opportunity to go head-to-head against one of the better run-blocking centers in the league. In fact, Ragnow has Pro Football Focus' second-best run-blocking grade of all qualifying centers in the NFL entering Week 8 action (83.5). The Lions feature two very different backs in the ageless Adrian Peterson (80 rushing attempts, 314 yards, 3.9 YPC, two TDs) and rookie D'Andre Swift (35 carries, 185 yards, 5.3 YPC, 4 TDs), and one can imagine Stewart will be key in the Colts' gameplan when it comes to stopping the run first and foremost and making the Lions be one-dimensional on offense. Stewart, for what it's worth, has a PFF run-stop percentage figure of 11.3, which ranks sixth among all qualifying interior defensive linemen in the NFL. Colts LB Darius Leonard vs. Lions TE T.J. Hockenson - Leonard is set to return Sunday after missing the last 2 1/2 games with a groin injury, and while, like always, he'll be counted on against the run and in some pass-rushing opportunities, one can imagine he'll also be matched up from time to time in coverage against Hockenson, the Lions' talented young tight end. After being selected eighth-overall by the Lions last year out of Iowa, Hockenson went on to have a ho-hum rookie season; in 12 games, he caught 32 passes for 367 yards and two touchdowns. Already in Year 2, however, Hockenson has logged 22 receptions for 256 yards and four touchdowns, including the eventual game-winner last week against the Falcons. Before going down with his injury, Leonard was off to a tremendous start out in open space; his 83.1 PFF coverage grade ranks as the seventh-best mark among qualifying linebackers entering Sunday's game. Colts LT Anthony Castonzo vs. Lions DE Trey Flowers - Castonzo gets yet another tough matchup on Sunday against Flowers, who primarily lines up on the right side of the defensive line opposite the left tackle. Flowers this season might not have the eye-popping stats of other elite edge defenders - he has 19 tackles (two for a loss) with 2.0 sacks, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and one pass defensed through six games - but he's liable to go off if you're not on top of your game the entire afternoon. In his now sixth NFL season, Flowers has collected 234 total tackles (35 for a loss) with 30.0 sacks, nine forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and seven passes defensed; Castonzo, meanwhile, has allowed 13 total pressures and just one sack this season. Colts TE Trey Burton vs. Lions LB Jarrad Davis - We mentioned Leonard as one of the best linebackers in pass coverage this season; well, according to PFF, Davis is the best linebacker in coverage in the NFL. While he's yet to log an interception, or even a single pass defensed, this season, Davis has earned an elite pass coverage grade of 92.2 this season, which is a bit odd considering he's been targeted in coverage four times on the year and has allowed four receptions for 34 yards and a touchdown. We'll take PFF's word for it, though. Burton, meanwhile, is now fully healthy after working his way back from an early calf injury and has emerged as the Colts' top target at tight end; he had four receptions for 58 yards and a touchdown in the Colts' Week 6 win over the Bengals, as Philip Rivers was finding him all over the field. With Mo Alie-Cox's status for Sunday's game up in the air (questionable, knee injury), perhaps Burton will continue seeing his targets increase. PROJECTED WEATHER (Domed stadium) Cloudy and windy; a few flurries or show showers possible, 20-percent chance of precipitation, temperature in the mid-40sF, winds from the W at 22 mph. REFEREE ASSIGNMENT Head referee: Clay Martin (6 years). Click here to see all referee assignments for Week 8. BETTING LINE Favorite: Colts (-2.5) Over/Under: 50.5 REGULAR SEASON LEADERS

Colts:

Passing - QB Philip Rivers (1,598 yards) Rushing - RB Jonathan Taylor (367 yards) Receiving - WR T.Y. Hilton (242 yards) Touchdowns - RB Jonathan Taylor (3) Tackles - LB Anthony Walker (39) Sacks - Justin Houston (3.5) Interceptions - S Julian Blackmon, CB T.J. Carrie, CB Xavier Rhodes (2 each)

Lions:

Passing - QB Matthew Stafford (1,580 yards) Rushing - RB Adrian Peterson (314 yards) Receiving - WR Kenny Golladay (338 yards) Touchdowns - RB D'Andre Swift (5) Tackles - S Tracy Walker (40) Sacks - DE Romeo Owara (4.0) Interceptions - S Duron Harmon (2) COMPARING 2020 STATS

Colts:

Total offense - 19th (363.2 YPG) Scoring - 14th (26.2 PPG) Passing offense - 10th (265.2 YPG) Sack percentage allowed - 1st (2.97) Rushing offense - 28th (98.0 YPG) Third down offense - 23rd (39.19 percent) Red zone offense - 26th (52.17 percent) Total defense - 2nd (288.0 YPG) Scoring defense - 4th (19.2 PPG) Passing defense - 2nd (199.7 YPG) Sacks - Tied-18th (13) Rushing defense - 3rd (88.3 YPG) Third down defense - 15th (40.51 percent) Red zone defense - Tied-20th (66.67 percent) Time of possession - 10th (30:52) Turnover differential - Tied-7th (+3)

Lions:

Total offense - 23rd (354.2 YPG) Scoring - 15th (26.0 PPG) Passing offense - 20th (245.7 YPG) Sack percentage allowed - 19th (6.86) Rushing offense - 18th (108.5 YPG) Third down offense - 26th (38.16 percent) Red zone offense - 18th (61.54 percent) Total defense - 22nd (380.5 YPG) Scoring defense - 20th (27.5 PPG) Passing defense - 20th (248.7 YPG) Sacks - 28th (8) Rushing defense - 26th (131.8 YPG) Third down defense - 24th (48.65 percent) Red zone defense - 22nd (68.00 percent) Time of possession - Tied-21st (29:34) Turnover differential - Tied-7th (+3) NOTES AND QUOTES With one interception returned for a touchdown, cornerbacks T.J. Carrie and/or Xavier Rhodes will tie numerous players for the second-most interceptions returned for a touchdown (two) in single-season franchise history. With one touchdown, tight end Jack Doyle will pass Tom Mitchell (19) and Dwayne Allen (19) for the fourth-most total touchdowns by a tight end in team history. With one game played, wide receiver T.Y. Hilton will reach 125 career games played. With one touchdown, Hilton will pass Dallas Clark (46) for the 11th-most total touchdowns in team history. With one receiving touchdown, he will tie Clark (46) for the sixth-most receiving touchdowns in team history. With 105 scrimmage yards, Hilton will reach 9,000 career scrimmage yards. With one game with 10+ receptions, Hilton will pass Don McCauley, Lydell Mitchell, Joe Washington, Anthony Johnson and Clark, all with three, for the third-most games with 10+ receptions in team history. With one game played, defensive end Justin Houston will reach 125 career games played. With one safety, Houston will tie Ted Hendricks, Doug English and Jared Allen (four) for the most safeties in NFL history. With one game with 400+ passing yards, quarterback Philip Rivers will tie Ben Roethlisberger (12) for the fourth-most games with 400+ passing yards in NFL history. Rivers and Matthew Stafford are two of eight quarterbacks to start three or more games in 2020 that have more than 10 seasons of NFL experience (the others are Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger, Aaron Rodgers, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Matt Ryan). Colts head coach Frank Reich is 2-0 after a bye week. He won vs. the Houston Texans in Week 7 last year (30-23), and defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 10 in 2018 (29-26). This will be the first road game for Reich after a bye. "He's just a consummate playmaker. He just has that knack. He has that knack to make plays. He is an emotional leader. I think those are the two things that stand out the most. With that being said, the guys have done - Walk (Anthony Walker), Zaire (Franklin) and Bobby (Okereke) - a great job in his absence and have provided a lot of leadership, juice and the whole bit. Obviously Darius (Leonard), his numbers and his playmaking ability has already established itself. So he is going to make a few plays here and there that just nobody else makes." - Colts head coach Frank Reich, on what linebacker Darius Leonard, who has missed the last 2.5 games with a groin injury, means to the defense. "I just think guys have to throw their fastball, whatever that is. If it's a power rush, you throw that. If he's a guy working on the edge, let's do that. I think sometimes when you're playing run and have to convert to the pass, we have to do that a little bit faster. Again, we're working on each guy run and pass, two fundamentals and two techniques. Coach (Brian) Baker and Coach (Matt) Raich are working with those guys. We've all addressed that with each individual man and they're going to drill it, work on it on one-on-one pass rush and team drills and then also individual drills." - Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus, on how the team can improve its overall pass rush over the last 10 games of the season. "Michael (Pittman) is big and physical, but he has almost like little-man feet, like where he is able to get in and out of breaks like a guy who is 5'10" and he's 6'3". That's a very good ability to have because he can win with both his quickness and his strength and size. We're excited to be able to get that back from him because he does have a unique skillset." - Colts offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni on the what rookie wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. brings to the table; Pittman Jr. has been on injured reserve the last three games with a lower leg injury. "I think the part that makes me, me, and I try to remind myself of that sometimes when I make a silly play or not do something that I expected myself to do, is I tell myself to be Jack (Doyle). I remind myself of that. I do that in many ways and I think as long as you can keep the mentality of what got you to where you are and what makes you, you, I think that's the most important thing. When you start talking about the business side of football and all that stuff, it just becomes too much. It's just fun to be able to play football and not worry about any of that kind of stuff." - Colts tight end Jack Doyle, on if any part of him ever worries about his touches or stats. ""It's definitely starting to slow down. One of the biggest things is when you think about the speed of the game, you kind of think about - it's really all on you. It's how quickly are you going to be able to process the movement of the defense, your progressions, your read and then you have to make a decision. I think just understanding some pre-snap things to kind of help quicken that process has definitely helped. The pre-snap is a big role in this league, knowing things or anticipating things in the pre-snap. But once the ball snaps, it's make a decision, go through your reads, go through your progression and be right." - Colts rookie running back Jonathan Taylor, on if the speed of the game is slowing down for him at all now after getting six NFL games under him. CATCH BEFORE THE GAME No Colts Ruled Out Sunday Against Lions; Mo Alie-Cox, Ryan Kelly Both Questionable Colts Thursday Notebook: Mo Alie-Cox Returns; Jack Doyle, Ryan Kelly Sit Out Practice 2020 Colts Rookie Watch: Week 8 Philip Rivers On Lions' Defense, Working With Defensive Teammates, Michael Pittman Jr.'s Return Colts Wednesday Notebook: Darius Leonard, Michael Pittman Jr., Kemoko Turay Return As Colts Begin On-Field Lions Work Michael Pittman Jr., Kemoko Turay Returning To Practice Today Nick Sirianni On Philip Rivers' Trajectory, Michael Pittman Jr.'s Return Matt Eberflus On Xavier Rhodes' Resurgence, Darius Leonard's Return, First-Half Issues How to Watch Colts @ Lions Colts Release Week 8 Unofficial Depth Chart For Lions Matchup Colts Mailbag: Bye Week Evaluations, Kemoko Turay's Return, Is Philip Rivers A Hall Of Famer? Five Things Learned: Colts-Bengals (2020, Week 6)

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