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Monday Night Football Week 4: Colts vs. Buccaneers Preview

Daniel Carr- Crawford |
October 3, 2011 | 4:44 p.m. PDT

Staff Writer

The Colts will be lead by first-time starter Curtis Painter. (Jeffrey Beall/Wikimedia Commons)
The Colts will be lead by first-time starter Curtis Painter. (Jeffrey Beall/Wikimedia Commons)

The Colts and the Buccaneers meet up tonight in Tampa for what should be a scintillating matchup. We break down the three key things to watch.

Quarterback Play

As in every football game, the outcome is heavily predicated on the play of the quarterback. However, the disparity between these two teams in terms of QB play is huge. Having lost Peyton Manning to injury, the Colts have struggled to gain any semblance of a passing game. Manning's replacement, veteran Kerry Collins, has been largely ineffective and actually was injured as well, forcing seldom-used backup Curtis Painter into his first career start tonight.

The Bucs have a much more stable situation at QB, with third-year signal caller Josh Freeman completing 68 percent of his passes on the season. While he doesn't have an elite receiving corps to throw to, he should be able to buy time for them with his mobility. 

The Defensive Lines

While neither team is among the NFL's elite defensively, both teams possess very talented D-lines. The Colts are deficient in several areas but possess disruptive pass rushers in Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis, who have combined for all five of the teams' sacks this season. A lot of pressure will be on them to contain Josh Freeman.

The Bucs have one of the youngest defenses in the NFL, but it is also one of the most talented. Lead up front by tackles Gerald McCoy and Brian Price, as well as rookie end Adrian Clayborn, the defense (and the line in particular) is improving by the week. Keep an eye out for these young guys to potentially have big performances tonight against a Colts O-line that is struggling to open up lanes for their running backs.

Motivation for the Colts 

The Colts are currently 0-3, a very strange place for a team that has been in the playoffs for 11 of the past 13 seasons. Coming off of last Sunday's heartbreaking loss to the Steelers, it's reasonable to wonder whether they will show up to this game mentally. As it is, the loss of Manning has taken a huge toll on the team, and at a certain point the Colts may check out for the rest of the season. While the team will never say this, their play on the field will speak far louder than any words spoken.


It's hard to see the Colts breaking their losing streak in a hostile road environment. While the game will be fairly close, largely in part to the weak offenses of both teams, the Bucs have much more experience at the game's most important position. Tampa Bay is no place for a young quarterback to be making his first career start, and the talented defensive line of the Bucs will harass Curtis Painter all night long. Bucs 17, Colts 6


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