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INDIANAPOLISThe gauntlet is here.

After another 5-2 start, the Colts are about to embark on quite the stretch of games, which will begin this Sunday at 1:00 PM against the Baltimore Ravens.

Here are 7 things to watch for as the Colts (5-2) return home to take on the Ravens (5-2):

1. Disciplined Defense

The Ravens offense brings arguably the most unique challenge of any team in the NFL.

It’s often a triple option rushing attack, masked in a spread look.

We often hear the phrase ‘alignment, assignment’ from Matt Eberflus when talking about his defense. That’s never been truer than this week. Accounting for multiple guys who can touch the ball in the run game is part of defending the NFL’s best rushing unit.

2. Starting Running Back Change?

In search for something, anything, to spark the run game, the Colts turned to old faithful Jordan Wilkins against the Lions.

Does what Wilkins did in that game mean he’s earned the right to start this Sunday?

Entering the Lions game, Wilkins wasn’t producing even at the level of Jonathan Taylor. But you can’t argue with the results we saw in that game, and the need to try something different for a stagnate run game.

3. Spy Master(s)

Defending Lamar Jackson can make your head hurt.

Part of the plan will involve the Colts using a spy(s).

Darius Leonard seems like the obvious choice. But Bobby Okereke and Kenny Moore could factor into that as well. The important aspect of this game plan is to make sure it’s not obvious who the spy is, and where he’ll be positioned before the snap.

4. Wide Receiver Emergence

Outside of the run game issues right now, a look at the wideout depth chart will not ease many worries when knowing that the Colts are about to play much more potent opponents the rest of November.

T.Y. Hilton (groin) is banged up and seems very iffy for this week.

Do we see more than 1 target for rookie Michael Pittman this week? Pittman returned to the lineup last week, but saw just 1 pass in his direction despite playing 45 snaps.

5. Take Jackson’s Gifts

In losing last week to the Steelers, Lamar Jackson turned the ball over 4 times.

Well, the Colts are tied for the NFL lead with 10 interceptions and showed a resurgence with their pass rush last season.

Jackson struggles when throwing in the pocket. The Colts need to do their best to keep him confined and force him to throw into their zone, and disguised, looks.

6. Embrace The Challenge

What an awesome opportunity awaiting the Colts over the next 4 weeks.

The rise in competition on the schedule will be a great barometer for this football team in gauging how legitimate of a threat they can be in the month of January.

If you want to be back in the postseason, and potentially have success there, the upcoming slate will allow you to prove yourself.

7. Hot Rod’s Kicking

The rookie hasn’t been on this list for quite a while.

But after missing two extra points against the Lions (indoors, too), the kicking operation bears some monitoring again this week.

It’s still pretty wild that Rodrigo Blankenship has yet to attempt a field goal past 45 yards this season and hasn’t really had more than about 1-2 meaningful field goal attempts in the 4th quarter.


Bowen’s Prediction: Colts 27-24. When the NFL schedule came out in May, the games against Baltimore and Green Bay stood out to many. Back then, I thought the Colts were better suited to beat the Ravens, given their defensive structure and skillset. That has only grown in my eyes as this week is now here. The Ravens have lost two of their best players (LT-Ronnie Stanley and CB-Marlon Humphrey) since Sunday, and are also dealing with some defensive questions due to more than a handful of guys having to miss practice this week because of close contact to Humphrey (who has tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday). I think a disciplined effort from the Colts defense will control Jackson and the run game enough to squeak out the most impressive win of the year.

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