Steve Ovenden looks at the match-up between the Colts and Panthers
The end of the season is drawing near and the Colts are hosting the Carolina Panthers for their last home game of the season in this week 16 matchup. Having sealed their seasons fate on Monday losing to New Orleans, Indy face a Panthers side whose journey has also come to an end for the year. The last two games are now just really a case of playing for pride and, dependant on results, where they will place in the 2020 draft. If anything else it might be a chance to assess players and the whole team as a unit going forward into the new year.
After being outclassed against the Saints, the Colts will want to redeem themselves. Nothing really got going on Monday night, Brissett missed a lot of passes, Mack barely made a dent only getting 19 yards and the Defence could not get anywhere near Drew Brees. Sunday is a chance to make up for it. Coachless Carolina are starting with a few rookies and the notable one is at Quarterback. Will Grier will start in front of Kyle Allen and the rookie will want to take his opportunity to prove he could be a long term option for Carolina going forward. His only playing time this year came in pre season putting up some ok numbers, 34-61, 385 yards and 2 touchdowns over the four games. He also had 3 interceptions and got sacked 7 times, which is good reading for the Colts defence, as the Panthers have struggled on offence this season. Struggled, with one exception, Christian ‘Run CMC’ McCaffrey. The deadly dual threat of McCaffrey will be a main focus of Carolinas attack. He will be relied upon by the rookie QB to spearhead plays so it will be vital for the Indy defence to put Grier under quick pressure or failing that, putting a New Orleans type wall in front of McCaffrey and stop him like the Colts were stopped last Monday.
On the Offense, the Colts will want to work on things going into the off season. Jacoby Brissett after a poor week, will still want to show that he should be QB1 next year. Although he has been throwing more over the last few games, it looks like the run could be emphasised upon this week. The Panthers are not the greatest at defending against it, allowing 100 yards in pretty much every game this season and with Marlon Mack having just 81 yards to go until the 1000 yard milestone, it could be a day of determined running. This could mean that an efficient run opens up more passing opportunities too. Not only does this give Jacoby a chance to prove himself but more reps for the recently returned T.Y Hilton. T.Y actually came back against the Saints but you would be forgiven if you had not realised as he did not make a catch until the fourth quarter. To be fair he was not targeted as much and poor throwing and good defending made it harder for him to get in the game.
On the face of it, this game has no particular meaning but to complete the season for both teams. Looking into it a bit deeper it is a last opportunity for coaches to assess their teams and start preparations for the off season and address the needs of the team. For the fans who want to see the season out with their team, they are just hoping to see an entertaining and enthusiastic performance which will bring a bright end to a gloomy season.
Players To Watch
Indianapolis Colts – Marlon Mack (Running Back)
Mack will want to get his 1000 yards. Being against a team with a poor record against the run, he should see the ball a fair amount.
Carolina Panthers – Christian McCaffrey (Running Back)
‘Run CMC’ has been the Panthers focal point on offence all season. This game will be no different and will be used as the go too to help Rookie QB Will Grier.
Last Time They Met
Indianapolis Colts 26 @ 29 Carolina Panthers (03/11/2015)
Carolina Panthers 24 @ 27 Indianapolis Colts.