Colts vs. 49ers: 5 things to watch in Week 7

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·6 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

The Indianapolis Colts (2-4) are looking to build off their dominant win over the Houston Texans and grab their third win of the season over the San Francisco 49ers (2-3).

The two franchises don’t meet often. This will be the first time that Frank Reich will face the 49ers in his head coaching career. The last meeting was on Oct. 8, 2017, Indianapolis won in overtime, 26-23. It is an important game for the organization that has their desires to climb out of the hole they started the season in and put themselves in a position to get to .500 in their rematch against the Tennessee Titans next week.

San Francisco is coming off their bye week so they will be well-rested and ready to rock on Sunday night. They also are fighting to crawl their way back to .500 and keep their playoff hopes alive in the NFC.

I expect both teams to put on a great performance to get their team a crucial victory as the halfway point of the year approaches. These are the top five things I am watching for when they clash:

Can Carson Wentz continue to win over the crowd?

Syndication: The Indianapolis Star

When Chris Ballard and Reich made the decision to trade for Wentz, it faced a lot of scrutiny from the outside world. Most thought he was done and couldn’t believe that the Colts would be willing to trade a first-round pick for him.

Despite the poor start for the team, the Wentz experiment wasn’t the issue and as he got healthy, his play has steadily made the offense more explosive. He’s has scored two touchdowns in four of the six games. He’s only thrown one interception. His 8.0 YPA is currently a career-high. It hasn’t been perfect but his performance over the past few weeks has started to create more believers that he’s turning around his career in Indianapolis.

He’s made some strides but he still has to show his health concerns are behind him and he can continue his growth under Reich. The 49ers’ defense has only given up 216.6 passing YPG, which ranks seventh in the NFL. It’s another big test under the bright lights for Wentz.

Run defense gets a challenge

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

San Francisco’s running game has been one of the best in the league under Shanahan. It doesn’t matter who is lined up in the backfield, on any given Sunday, a back within his offensive scheme can run down a defense’s throats when it is hitting on all cylinders.

Their backfield has dealt with injuries. Rookies Elijah Mitchell and Trey Sermon have been leaned on to start the season. Their ground game is averaging 122.0 rushing YPG, which ranks 12th in the league. The front seven of the Colts defense will have to make sure they are disciplined to their gaps and control the trenches to keep the 49ers backfield at bay.

If the defense is able to shut down their run attack and make San Francisco’s offense one-dimensional, then they should be in a position to win the matchup in the 4th quarter. Jimmy Garaoppolo might not be at 100% and it doesn’t sound like Trey Lance is healthy enough to play this week. It should be an ideal situation to force them to lean on a limited quarterback.

Who's ready to step up?

AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

Michael Pittman Jr. has been the top receiver in the passing attack this season and the leader of the offense, T.Y. Hilton, made his big return to the lineup this past Sunday. Mo Alie-Cox and Parris Campbell have been growing as role players over the last couple of weeks, but Campbell suffered a foot injury that could potentially end his season.

Hilton is dealing with a quad injury and is considered day-to-day. Jonathan Taylor and Zach Pascal are the only players outside of Pittman Jr. that have over 200 receiving yards. Now that Campbell is out for the foreseeable future, Reich will have to get creative with how he wants to fill the role he was developing for the injured receiver.

Nyheim Hines should see some opportunities lined up outside. Ashton Dulin and Mike Strachan will see more snaps. Could Kylen Granson have a breakout game? One or a couple of these players will need to step up in order for the Colts to walk away with a win.

DeForest Buckner revenge game

AP Photo/Zach Bolinger

Buckner will be facing his former team for the first time since the 49ers traded him to the Colts in 2020. He mentioned to the media that “it’s a little personal” and he will be like every player that wants to show the team that drafted them what they are missing out on. He added that he was willing to meet in the middle on a long-term contract to stay with San Francisco but they were unwilling to get close to the deal that Indianapolis gave him.

He’s been dealing with double teams throughout the season and it won’t be any different on Sunday night. His extra motivation will be needed to help his defense defend the run and collapse the pocket on Jimmy Garoppolo.

He’ll be looking to visit his former quarterback to say hello as often as he can. He can’t do everything on his own, he will need his peers on the edge to win their matchups. The defense has struggled to create consistent pressure this season and they’ll need Buckner to be a menace to his former organization.

Eric Fisher vs Nick Bosa

AP Photo/Zach Bolinger

The Colts offensive line was a hot mess to start the season and when Eric Fisher made his debut as a Colt, it was supposed to be the start of the unit getting better. They certainly have improved over the last few weeks. Chris Reed has done such a good job at filling in for Quenton Nelson that he will still get playing time when Big Q returns, which could be on Sunday night.

Reich mentioned that Reed has earned the opportunity to swap with Mark Glowinski throughout games. Matt Pryor has also done a solid job once he took over at right tackle while the team awaits Braden Smith to come back from his lengthy absence. The one spot that is still disappointing has been at left tackle.

Fisher has been beaten multiple times for sacks and one led to a fumble lost. He’s also been involved in some costly penalties that hurt drives. This week he is going against one of the best edge rushers in the league. Bosa has gotten at least one sack in four of their five games and has a total of five for the season. He has 10 QB hits as well. Fisher will have his hands full and if he can’t keep Bosa in check, then the hot Colts offense could stall if Wentz is under duress all night.

1

1

1

1