TIME: 1:00 PM EST
LOCATION: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Indiana
BETTING LINE: IND -4.5
BEARS PLAYER TO WATCH
Jerrell Freeman is going up against his former team for the first time in his career. Freeman spent four years in Indy before signing with Chicago as a free agent. The Bears defense may potentially get Danny Trevathan back from injury this week. Of Trevathan, Freeman said, “It’s the reason I came here… to have a guy that beside me.” The Jaguars were able to get pressure on Luck last week in London on their way to a 30-27 victory. Freeman should play a big role in Vic Fangio’s attempt to disrupt the Colt’s again this week.
COLTS PLAYER TO WATCH
Donte Moncrief is still out and Phillip Dorsett is still struggling to make plays despite his lone 67-yard TD catch. If the Colts are going to have success throwing the ball against the Bears, TY is going to need to have a huge game. WR4 and WR5 Chester Rodgers and Quan Bray may also have increased roles in the offense this week.
BEARS POSITION GROUP PREVIEWS
As of Wednesday, October 5, Jay Cutler’s health is still in question and Brian Hoyer is set to start. Head Coach John Fox apparently refuses to simply hand the starting job back to Cutler upon returning. That means Hoyer is not only starting, he’s auditioning for the part of Bears quarterback for at least another week.
Heartbreaking news from Chicago leaves Kevin White on the IR for a second straight season. With Alshon Jeffrey and Eddie Royal failing to practice fully this week, extra pressure will be on TE Zach Miller and WR Cam Meredith, who played with the second group for much of the preseason.
The Colts believe in Andrew Luck. As long as he is taking snaps, they feel like any game is within reach. This week as much as any, it’s imperative that Chicago disrupts the timing of Luck’s offense and forces him into uncomfortable situations. NT Eddie Goldman couldn’t practice this week, so the defensive ends Mitch Unrein and Akiem Hicks will have to provide most of the base pressure.
GAME PREVIEW ANALYSIS
If Andrew Luck had scampered for a first down rather than throwing a difficult ball on fourth down last week at Wembley Stadium, the Colts might be more optimistic. However, the reality is that their Head Coach and GM are both under fire after a slow start. And yet, a chance to rebound is on the table against a Bears team that has had struggles of their own. Luck will see two things in the film room this week. Chicago is 8th in pass defense in the NFL, but that is likely due to the fact that teams haven’t had the need to throw against them. Chicago allows the 26th most rushing yards per game.
Luck will also see that the Chicago DBs are young but energetic. They are quick enough to prevent the deep ball, even though they leave slot receivers open over the middle quite frequently. CB Kyle Fuller is now on the IR, leaving veteran CB Tracy Porter with many rookies and sophomores around him. Luck’s receiving crew is very talented and he will probably get as much as he needs through the air if Frank Gore has trouble on the ground.
Chicago continues to struggle to remain healthy. 16 names now adorn the injury report, not counting the other nine on the Injured Reserve. Still, the “next man up” mentality holds its place in the locker room and the players seem to believe in each other.
No team has ever come from London without taking a bye the following week. Indianapolis elected to defer this trend and faces the Bears on what amounts to a short week after the international trip. A healthy Bears side is probably favored in my eyes based on form, but the Colts are not facing the best of the navy and orange. At home, Luck will likely get into a rhythm before halftime. It may be close for a time, but if #12 gets the chance to put the game away, it’s tough to say he won’t capitalize. Score prediction is 37-20, Colts over the Bears.
COLTS POSITION GROUP PREVIEWS
The Colts cut linebacker Sio Moore after Sunday’s game against the Jaguars. The Colts may be making moves in the position or they may have found a young player ready to step up.
The Colts’ secondary has struggled through the beginning of the season. Antonio Cromartie was also cut this week which may indicate that Vontae Davis, Patrick Robinson, and Darius Butler are all ready to go Sunday.
After a 1-3 start this season, Coach Pagano and GM Ryan Grigson’s futures are in question. Both were re-signed to 4-year contracts after the 2015 season. Many people are upset and it may be safe to say that Pagano’s time with the Colts is limited if they don’t find a way to start winning.