The Colts were the worst rushing team in football during the regular season. They are certainly not a physical football team that can line up in a two tight end set and run it right up the gut. Fact is, they were dreadful in most short-yardage or obvious running situations this season.
A big reason for this is they are undersized and lack the power to get vertical displacement off the football. In fact, if you ran into starting guards
If the Saints are going to win this game, they must win this matchup. It will not be easy. The Colts defense is no longer the undersized unit it has been in years past. It got significantly bigger inside with defensive tackles that weigh over 300 pounds, like
That defensive line allows playmaker linebackers like
The Colts, though, have a tall order going against a Saints offensive line that has consistently opened holes for its three-pronged rushing attack (
The good news for the Saints is their defensive line is much better at applying pressure than they are getting credit.
The bad news is it may not really matter all that much. Manning is the best quarterback at getting rid of the football before the pass rush can get to him. Even when his linemen get beat cleanly at the line of scrimmage, Manning is able to sense that and get rid of the football almost immediately. So quickly, in fact, he rarely gets hit, let alone sacked.
The team that had the most success getting to Manning was San Francisco; it did so primarily up the middle by employing a bull-rush technique. As long as the defender is covered up by a Colt, Manning stays alive in the pocket and thinks he is protected. If the bull rusher gets enough of a push, he can grab Manning's arm or take him down before he knows what hit him. It sounds counterintuitive but it is better than coming free, because if a defender comes free, Manning will unload the football without hesitation.
The problem for Freeney, even if he does play, and his counterpart on the other side,