Ryan has one of the most loaded groups of pass-catchers in the league, as Jones is arguably the most reputable receiver in the league, Ridley is one of the top young wideouts, and Sanu is one of the more reliable possession receivers in the league. Hooper has developed nicely into one of the better tight ends in a shallow position group around the league, and both Freeman and Smith are able to tote the rock and catch it out of the backfield.
The Falcons appear to have a similar cavalry as the Colts’ Week 1 opponent, the Los Angeles Chargers, when it comes to an upper-echelon quarterback, a diverse group of pass catchers and a deep backfield of runners. It will be a big test for the Colts’ front seven to answer the challenge when it comes to fundamentals and overall tackling. A couple of areas on which the Colts could capitalize is in the pass rush and taking advantage of errant throws, leading to interceptions. The Falcons have given up five sacks so far while the Colts are tied for second in the league with eight sacks. The Falcons are also near the bottom of the league in turnovers and specifically interceptions. It’s a good time to have Malik Hooker in your corner.
The Falcons have really struggled to get the run game going, but in fairness they have faced two really tough defenses in the Minnesota Vikings and Eagles so far. The Colts haven’t yet put the plug in the run game against the Chargers and Tennessee Titans, as they currently rank 20th (124.0 yards allowed per game) and have surrendered more than 120 yards in each contest. This matchup appears to be one that’s got to give, but it’s a great opportunity for the Colts, at home, to put the clamps down on an opponent’s run game.
The Colts also have a deep passing repertoire, but in a different way. While the Falcons’ offense is known for occasionally putting up gaudy statistics — especially in the passing game — the Colts have a very balanced attack with several players capable of making plays. Quarterback Jacoby Brissett has formed a nice rapport with receiver T.Y. Hilton (three touchdown connections in two games), but he’s also got tight ends Jack Doyle and Eric Ebron by his side as well as some dependable chain-movers in slot receiver Chester Rogers and running back Nyheim Hines. The young guns, Deon Cain and Parris Campbell, are still working on hitting their stride as well, although Campbell did score his first-career touchdown last week. The Colts’ pass protection hasn’t quite come together yet like it did last year, as they’ve surrendered five sacks in two games, but that is to be expected as they work in a new quarterback. Another thing the Colts have in their corner is Brissett’s care for the football, as he rarely throws an interception. In fact, he threw a pick last week for the first time in 167 pass attempts.
The Falcons have a nice pass defense to counter the Colts, led by Beasley Jr., Jarrett and Takk McKinley on the line, Deion Jones at linebacker, and Trufant and Keanu Neal in the secondary. Atlanta so far is tops in the league in receiving yards allowed per game, third in big pass plays allowed and fourth in passing yards per attempt, so things are going well there so far.
What the Falcons’ defense might really struggle with against the Colts is the run game. They rank near the bottom of the league in big run plays allowed while the Colts are tied for second in big run plays (20-plus yards) and tied for first in 40-plus-yard runs. Colts running back Marlon Mack is currently third in the NFL in rushing (225 yards) and ran for a career-high 174 yards in Week 1. Jordan Wilkins got into the action last week, running for a career-high 82 yards including a 55-yard run in the fourth quarter.