Monday Night Football Week 8 Preview: Colts at Panthers

Nov 02, 2015 by Scott Ross

The Indianapolis Colts are 3-4. They have been outscored by 27 points; are 1-3 at home; QB Andrew Luck’s 9 interceptions are the lion’s share of their 15 turnovers this season, the second-most in the NFL; they’ve gone into halftime without having scored a point three times; in Week 5 head coach Chuck Pagano called what has been called the worst play in NFL history; and rookie wide receiver Phillip Dorsett has broken his ankle and will be out 4 to 6 weeks. Despite all this, the Colts sit atop the AFC South.

Just seven weeks into the season, Luck has gone from The Next Great Quarterback to The Great Question Mark. No one seems to know what’s wrong with Andrew Luck, but this much is clear: he is having arguably the worst season of his short career, and the Colts are 1-4 with him in the lineup, but 2-0 with Matt Hasselbeck. Maybe Luck’s hurt, maybe his O-line is to blame, maybe it’s just a small sample… but something’s wrong.

As well as the Carolina Panthers’ D has been playing against the pass, it seems doubtful that this will be the night that Luck gets back on track. The undefeated Carolina Panthers have allowed the lowest passer rating this season, 67.00. They’ve benefited from a pretty weak schedule, as their opponents are a combined 15-26, but the fact remains that the Panthers’ D is fourth in interceptions, third in net yards per pass attempt, first in TD passes allowed, and third in yards per play.

But Carolina’s burgeoning MVP talk is centered around quarterback Cam Newton. At 6’6” and 260 pounds, Newton brings a blend of size, speed, athleticism and arm strength the league has never before seen. He’s got the third-worst completion percentage, is 26th in passing yards, 14th in TD passes, 23rd in yards per attempt.

But he also leads all QBs in rushing yards per game and rushing TDs – in fact, he’s 4th in the league in rushing TDs, including running backs. Being able to do almost anything makes it tough for defenses to prepare for everything, and with his O-line rounding into shape and his other rushers stepping up, Carolina should be giving Greg Manusky, the Colts defensive coordinator, nightmares.

The Colts’ D has been on the field for more plays than any other team this year, and has allowed the most yards, as they’ve been weak against both the run (26th) and the pass (30th). They’ve caused the fourth-fewest turnovers, are the only defense in the league who’s yet to recover a fumble, have been penalized for more yards than anyone else… It’s a miracle they’re only allowing 25 points a game.

Watch the Indianapolis Colts vs. the Carolina Panthers at 8:30pm ET Monday on ESPN.

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