The Green Bay Packers have had one of the tougher schedules to start the year. They started with the stout 49ers, a division rival in the Bears, a Seattle game marred by the replacement refs and a Saints team desperate for a win. To come out of that with a 2-2 record could be looked at as a success or an utter disappointment.
And just when you thought the road gets a little easier, it doesn’t.
The Packers travel to Indianapolis to take on a Colts team who will be playing with heavy hearts after learning about their Head Coach Chuck Pagano and his diagnosis with leukemia.
Indianapolis Colts (1-2) Analysis: In reality, Pagano’s leukemia has nothing to do with the football being played on the field. But it will have an effect on the Colts’ fans who are beyond passionate about their NFL team and it will provide a young team with a motivational boost. Fans have the opportunity to pick up CHUCKSTRONG T-Shirts (pictured above), tees I expect to see all over the place on Sunday. We all hope Pagano can beat this, so in his honor, let’s get on to the football.
Despite notching only one win so far this season, the Colts’ offense has been a pleasant surprise considering the circumstances. Rookie Andrew Luck ranks number one in ESPN’s Total Quarterback Rating at 81.9 which is a little deceiving, but still partly accurate. Luck has looked great at times (five touchdowns) and like a typical rookie in others (four interceptions). His chemistry with Reggie Wayne (23 catches on 40 targets in three games) is much further developed than we all expected and his rushing ability (80 yards) makes him more than just a one-trick pony. The problem in Indianapolis is the run game where they rank 21st in the league with 90.3 yards per contest.
If you agree that the run game is a problem, the Colts’ defense is an epidemic. I wouldn’t exactly consider the Bears, Vikings or Jaguars offensive juggernauts and they still rank in the bottom half of the league with 27.7 points allowed per game. To make matters worse, the Colts will be without starting cornerbacks Vonte Davis (ankle) and Justin King (groin) against a Packers team who wants nothing more than to throw the ball.
Green Bay Packers (2-2) Analysis: Everyone watching the Packers is waiting for Aaron Rodgers to have one of those MVP-esque games that he put together so many times in 2011. He inched a little closer against New Orleans, but still threw an interception and was out-dueled in regards to stats and the aww-factor by Drew Brees. Greg Jennings (groin) has been ruled out, so it’s up to Jordy Nelson and James Jones to be the go-to guys in the Packers’ pass-happy offense. After starting out the year against three of the best defenses, running back Cedric Benson looked slightly better against New Orleans as he should have considering they had one of the worst run defenses in the league. Benson will get a second chance to have a huge game against the Colts’ who also struggle against the run.
The Packers’ offense is must-watch tv, but the defense has been surprisingly interesting through the first four games. They rank fifth in the league with 14.0 sacks and have also forced five turnovers. Indy’s Luck will have to put those legs to the test with Clay Matthews (7 sacks) chasing him down all day. Against a rookie quarterback, there’s no reason to think the Packers won’t increase upon those sack/turnover numbers on Sunday.
Prediction: Green Bay 35 Indianapolis 20
Even though they’ve been dealt a tough hand to start the season, the Packers can’t do anything but go out and play the schedule they have in front of them. On paper this is a game the Packers should win without a doubt, but it’s not always so easy in today’s NFL. I think the Colts will be more than ready for this game and will play with an unbelievable energy for their sick coach and dedicated fans. However, that energy won’t last the entire game, especially once the Packers offense gets going against an unhealthy and extremely thin Colts’ defense. I could see this being a one-score game for most of the first half before the Packers open it up and run away with the game.
TV Coverage: FOX at 12:00 PM CT with Thom Brennaman (play-by-play) and Brian Billick (color) on the call with Laura Okmin on the sidelines.
Betting Lines: Packers favored by 7 points and over/under set at 48 points.
2012 Record straight up: 2-2
2012 Record against the spread: 0-4
2012 Record in over/under: 3-1
What are you most looking forward in the Packers and Colts game? Let me know by commenting below.
Nick Grays is a senior writer at the Sports Bank where he covers the Wisconsin Badgers and Green Bay Packers. He also enjoys to share Fantasy Advice and pretend to be a Golf expert from time-to-time. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here or visit his blog Nick Knows Best. If social media is not your thing, shoot him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ChuckSTRONG T-Shirt (Colts Pro Shop online)
Aaron Rodgers vs. Colts (Bleacherreport.com)Powered by Sidelines Follow paulmbanks