The Colts, coming off their huge win on Thursday Night Football, get to take on Aaron Rodgers and the Packers for their first test as division leaders in the AFC South.
The Colts defense has been excellent this season, as everyone knows. Through 10 weeks, they’re currently holding opposing QBs to a 78.9 passer rating. The league average is 94.5. The next challenge? Current MVP candidate and future Hall-of-Famer Aaron Rodgers.
Rodgers already has two MVP awards and currently has an excellent shot at adding a third.
To say it plainly, Rodgers does not make any sense. Rodgers currently leads the NFL in passer rating at 116.4. He’s thrown 26 touchdowns to only 3 interceptions and is on pace for nearly 50 total touchdowns and over 4,500 yards passing. A two-time MVP, Rodgers has only exceeded those numbers once before in his career. It is absolutely uncanny that Rodgers is able to do this at age 37 after steadily declining each of the previous four seasons.
The Colts now have the tall task of beating him and the 7-2 Packers. November is the time to find out who is legit and who is not. The Colts have certainly been tested the past couple of games and that will continue in Week 11.
Now, with that said, the Packers (and Rodgers himself) are not invincible, and this is a game the Colts can absolutely win.
1) Don’t Lose the Turnover Battle
The Packers are only +2 on the season when it comes to the turnover battle, which actually ranks behind the Colts at +4. However, the numbers are a little skewed because their defense hasn’t done a great job of forcing turnovers.
The Packer’s offense has only turned the ball over five times this season, good for second-best in the NFL. Aaron Rodgers specifically has not thrown double-digit interceptions since 2010. Yes, re-read that sentence again: Aaron Rodgers does not turn the ball over. If you get an interception against Rodgers, keep the ball, because it might be worth something one day.
The Colts will win this game by doing their best Aaron Rodgers impression. As good as this defense is, I cannot go into this game expecting them to force a turnover. What I can expect is for the offense to not turn the ball over. This game isn’t necessarily about winning the turnover battle, but more about not losing it. If the Colts can come out of this one with an even or positive turnover differential, I see them coming away with the win.
2) Win the Line of Scrimmage
The Colts have not run the ball extremely well as of late. This game will be a big litmus test to see if they can do it in a big game. The best way to beat an explosive offense is to keep them off the field. The Colts can do that by winning the line of scrimmage on offense and keeping time of possession.
The Smith “brothers” — Preston Smith and Za’Darius Smith (no relation) — will give the Colts fits on offense. In 2019, they combined for 25.5 sacks. In 2020, Preston hasn’t found the same success, but Za’Darius is getting to the quarterback at will. He currently has 8 sacks in 9 games this season, and if the Colts don’t slow him down, he could give Philip Rivers problems all day long.
On defense, the job will be much more difficult. The Packers have been a juggernaut offensively this season. Currently, they’re third in the league with 30.8 points per game. They can beat you from all angles, whether it be Davante Adams in the passing game, Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams on the ground, or Aaron Rodgers through the air. They are a dangerous team. Aaron Rodgers is a maestro at the line of scrimmage and is as good as it gets when it comes to getting free plays. The Colts need to be disciplined on defense and they can win this game.
3) Be Physical
This point is basic, boring, and very undescriptive. And yet, it tells you all you need to know if you’ve watched the Packers play over the last two seasons. The Packers have had trouble with physical teams. Last season, the 49ers were a physical team on both ends of the football. They had a defense that attacked the quarterback, and an offense that ran the ball down everyone’s throat. The Buccaneers this season dominated the Packers with a physical defense that punched the Packers in the mouth. The Colts have a similar team.
The Colts defense is excellent, as evidenced by the fact that they’re first in overall yardage allowed per game, and top-five in passing, rushing, and total points allowed. Then, you move to the offensive side of the ball with Quenton Nelson who is the toughest guard in football. The Colts are the definition of a tough football team; the exact type of team the Packers have struggled with. All they have to do is be themselves and attack the Packers. Don’t come out passive, come out and punch the Packers in the mouth and send them home to 7-3.
(Featured Image Credit: Indianapolis Colts)