First Look: Colts vs. Saints
According to the NFL Week 15 Preview, the league has designated Monday night's matchup between the Indianapolis Colts (6-7) and New Orleans Saints (10-3) as the NFL 100 Game of the Week. Each week, the NFL has chosen a game to help celebrate its 100th season, and this game was chosen because it features the two teams from Super Bowl XLIV. We're a long ways removed from that incredible season, but the impact will always be felt.
For this year's matchup, the Colts are still in the playoff hunt, sitting at 10th in the AFC currently. Needless to say, they need this game more than the Saints and will need a lot of help to get into the postseason. The Houston Texans currently lead the AFC South at 8-5, with the surging Tennessee Titans (8-5) on their tail as the 7th seed.
The Saints became the first team of 2019 to clinch a playoff birth, winning the NFC South in Atlanta against the Falcons on Thanksgiving. The Ravens and Chiefs joined them on Sunday as the only other teams in the playoffs right now. After a devastating loss to the 49ers last week, New Orleans fell to No. 3 in the NFC Playoff race.
This will be the 13th time these two meet, and both teams are coming off close losses in Week 14. The Saints lead the all-time series 7-5, and have won the past three matchups including the Super Bowl. They previously met in 2015 at Lucas Oil Stadium, with the Saints prevailing 27-21. In that game, New Orleans dominated the first half and jumped out to a 27-0 lead by the 3rd quarter. Powered by Andrew Luck, the Colts battled back with a pair of T.Y. Hilton receiving touchdowns, and made things interesting with just a few minutes to go in the game.
Prior to 2015, the Saints hosted the Colts in a Sunday Night Football showdown in the Superdome. It was supposed to be an epic battle between Drew Brees and Peyton Manning, but instead Curtis Painter led the Colts offense as Manning was sidelined with a neck injury. Drew Brees was nearly perfect on the evening, and the Saints pulverized the Colts 62-7 in the Week 7 blowout.
What to Watch For
- Defensive Progression or Regression: Was the game against the 49ers a sign of things to come, or was it just Kyle Shanahan giving the Saints defense fits? New Orleans is coming off its worst outing in years (Patriots - Week 2, 2017). They were torched on the ground and through the air, and how they respond is everything. Cam Jordan said on Sunday following the loss that the defense had to be critical of themselves. The first injury report drops on Thursday, so we'll see if A.J. Klein (knee) and Kiko Alonso (thigh) will be back in the mix. They were missed a lot in Week 14.
- The AK Train: Alvin Kamara has not had a great season, and there's no other way to put it. Sean Payton said on Thursday morning's press conference call that Kamara is too talented of a player. Payton added that he's seeing everything in practice, the way he prepares, and that his best football of the season is ahead of him. The encouraging thing is that Saints were able to move the ball and put up 46 points without Kamara being a huge factor. Getting him hot down the stretch could be a killer boost for New Orleans.
- Chasing History: Drew Brees sits at 537 total passing touchdowns, which currently trails Peyton Manning (539) by two. Tom Brady enters Sunday with 536 touchdown passes, and will have an opportunity to take the record when they play the Bengals on the road in a noon kickoff. Brees making history on Monday Night Football seems like a regular thing, but it'll be something to pay close attention to.