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INDIANAPOLIS – A reunion of sorts will take place between the Colts and Eagles this Sunday afternoon.

The Colts head to Philadelphia looking to improve their record to above .500 for the first time since November 2015.

Here are 7 things to watch as the Colts take on the Eagles at 1:00 PM:

1. Key Offensive Injuries

The Colts will be without 3 very important offensive players this week (LT-Anthony Castonzo, RB-Marlon Mack, and TE-Jack Doyle). Before the year started, one would argue those names would occupy 3 of the team’s 6 most important offensive players. The loss of Doyle is very difficult, considering no NFL tight end has played more snaps than him this season. It will be a big day for Eric Ebron on Sunday, and he will be needed in the run game department, too.

2. Break The Spine

-Andrew Luck described the Eagles defense as “strong up the spine.” They are very stout in the middle. It’s Haloti Nagta and Fletcher Cox along the defensive line. It’s Nigel Bradham and Jordan Hicks at linebacker. And it’s Malcom Jenkins back at safety. Trying to break that spine is going to be much more difficult than it was in the first two games of the season.

3. Make Carson Move

-Carson Wentz’s return from a torn ACL will come on Sunday afternoon. Wentz tore his ACL in mid-December last year and his rehab kept him off the field for the start of the 2018 season. Ideally, the Colts would suffocate the quicker rhythm action from the Eagles and force Wentz to make throws on the move with an unsteady pocket.

4. Achieve Offensive Balance

-One of the biggest ingredients from the Colts’ win over the Washington Football Team was achieving early offensive balance. That kept the pressure off the offensive line and allowed the Colts to sustain drives by staying ahead of the chains. Can that sort of performance (with the running backs gaining more than 100 yards) be achieved when going up against a much better rushing defense, and not having the steady blocker in Doyle?

5. Ride Defensive Momentum

-It’s still kind of amazing we are talking about an Indianapolis Colts team possibly riding defensive momentum. But the Colts are after allowing just 9 points to the Washington Football Team and shutting down their run game. Now, the Colts are going to see a much different offensive approach from the Eagles. Sound tackling has to continue to be there for the Colts.

6. Reich’s Advantage

-A big debate this week with Frank Reich taking on his old team is how much of an advantage does he have in game prep? I think he’s got a decent amount. Reich knows Philadelphia’s personnel far better than the Eagles know the Colts. For a league that is so matchup driven, Reich is going to know the tendencies for a large chunk of the personnel, for both teams and on both sides of the ball. That’s key.

7. Finally Above .500

-Names like Daniel Adongo, D’Joun Smith and Hugh Thornton were Colts the last time this team was above .500. It was November 2015, when Andrew Luck had already lacerated his kidney, the last time the Colts had more wins than losses. A win on Sunday would end that streak, which is nearing 40 straight games. How this team reacts from winning a road game is an unknown step.

 

Bowen’s Prediction: Eagles, 27-20. At the start of the season, I would have had this one pegged as perhaps the hardest game the Colts would have in 2018. But instead of the Colts being a double-digit underdog in Week Three, they come in as a team riding some positive momentum, where as the Eagles face a few more questions. Both teams are banged up offensively. Picking the Eagles comes from them still being stout up the middle defensively and just finding it hard to pick the Colts in another road contest. The Eagles haven’t looked very good at all in 2018, but I just can’t get myself to actually go with the Colts in a second straight road game. They certainly have a chance though, and a win would totally turn the ship on how this season could look with Andrew Luck back. I think it will be hard to sustain the same offensive balance that is likely needed to win on the road.