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Over the Fence – From over the Pond – Week 15

A brutal home defeat to the 49ers behind them, the Saints are still in a position to claim the #1 or #2 spot in the NFC and get that crucial bye week, but they will need some help along the way. The 49ers loss also beat up the Saints physically with the news that Marcus Davenport is now out for the season with a foot injury. The Monday Night Football match-up between the Saints and Colts is one that New Orleans should be winning, especially at home. With the Colts needing to win out and have some tiebreaker assistance along the way, their season is all but over. As usual I will deep dive into our opponents offense, defense and give my analysis. 

Offense:

With the shock news just before the season began that Andrew Luck was retiring, this left the Colts a bit stuck for a starter and the loss of their franchise Quarterback. As the backup, Jacoby Brissett had to stand up and he has exceeded most expectations, although the bar was set pretty low. Brissett has started 12 games this year hitting just under 2,500 yards with a 18/6 TD:INT ratio. His completion % is an okay 63.2 but injuries have seriously hampered the colts this year and his star wide receiver has missed a lot of game time, so they have used the run game more often.

The main man in the run game is most certainly Marlon Mack. The 3rd year player is on course for 1000 rushing yards this season, currently standing at 900 off 11 games played. 5 scores on the ground but he is a strong runner. With others around him not producing as much, Mack will be used a lot should he be 100% healthy to go in this game.

Star wideout T.Y Hilton is still “week-to-week” with his calf injury. With the Colts not really playing for a lot I think it would be wise to sit him. Also, I would rather have less weapons against the Saints D after last weeks debacle. Hilton is definitely the best players on this colts offense and losing him so frequently this year has really hurt their attempt to push for the AFC South title. From what he has been saying and the injury report, he might play, this won’t be news to the Saints depleted defence.

With Hilton being out in previous games, the top WR has been Zach Pascal. Having played every game this season, Pascal leads the way with 547 yards on 35 receptions and 5 TDs. The standout here is the fact he has been targeted 60 times and caught just 58% of those balls. Those aren’t WR1 numbers but reliable.

The Colts like to use their tight ends in the pass game with both Jack Doyle and Eric Ebron being utilised. The later has also had injury issues and missed games and now looks to be side-lined for the remainder of the year. They have collected 7 TDs between them with Brissett used them in the RedZone a lot for the “go up and get it” type plays. We have seen Drew Brees use Jared Cook a lot more like this since his return so hopefully the defense is ready to cover Doyle or whoever else is leaping high for receptions in the Endzone.

This could be the ideal game for the Saints D to regain confidence and get back on track. With lots of long-term injuries hampering the Colts, unless there is an unknown breakout player hiding in the depth chart, the Saints should feel comfortable with this game. The issue the Saints have is health. D-line banged up with Davenport out and Jordan on the DNP list (as of Thursday) and now Vonn Bell has shown up too on there. Their recent additions and depth will hopefully fill any remaining holes.

Defense:

Injuries have also hit the Colts on the defensive side and they are starting to tell, giving up 38 against Tampa Bay last week and having previously lost to the Miami Dolphins, at home.

Star man is Darius Leonard and he himself has had injury issues, only competing in 10 games this year. His stats from Linebacker reading 5 sacks, 8.5 tackles for a loss as well as 6 passes defenced and a team high 4 interceptions. Good numbers having missed 3 games. He should be back following his concussion issues earlier in the season. The Saints will be weary of this threat.

On the defensive line, experienced pro Justin Houston has racked up the most sacks on the team with 9. Having been at the Kansas City Chiefs for many years, Houston moved across to the Colts and has led the line with authority. Due to the large amount of tape on Houston from his experience, the O-Line will hopefully be ready to deal with his presence.

Moving into the secondary the Colts have some young talent they are developing. Safety Malik Hooker is probably the standout in his area. Hooker only has 3 years behind him (and injuries again have hurt him) but his coverage is good, I’m expecting him to help out with attempting to guard Michael Thomas when not lining up out wide in man-to-man with his corner. Hooker will probably keep the middle of the field protected where the Saints have less productive options and might have a solid day doing it.

Over in the cornerbacks its 2-interceptions on the season Kenny Moore II and best name in the game Rock Ya-Sin. Both of these guys are young and will struggle to hold down Michael Thomas, especially as he cannot be guarded. Kenny Moore is on the DNP list and likely won’t play on Monday night. The positive the Colts do have is speed and fearlessness on their side. CGM has destroyed a lot better and more experienced players this season so they have nothing to lose.

If Drew Brees is the given the time by the O-Line he will find his targets and it should be another day for Michael Thomas. I personally would sit Jared Cook for this game, however he is feeling as this is the type of defense where Tre’Quan Smith or Ted Ginn Jr. could finally support Thomas. I would love to see Latavius Murray used more in the run with Alvin Kamara as his secondary but utilised in the pass attack. I’m looking out for Deonte Harris to get more involved with offense this week too following his impressive special teams showings.

Prediction:

For any Saints game I’m usually cautiously confident but for this one I’m thinking they should win by more than 10 – depending on who’s healthy and if Hilton plays or not. Even though the Saints have been battered and bruised, they will be angry after last week. I think Sean stays aggressive and CGM eats. The defense will want to put on a show before leaving the Superdome until January so will be hoping for a big turnover day. Sacks and pressures may be at a premium against the very good Colts offensive line. Seeing as it’s the Colts and the 10-year Superbowl anniversary in the Superdome, I’m going with the Superbowl winning score:

Saints 31 – Colts 17

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