By Kevin McGuire
After showing an ability to shrug aside a messy start at home, the Philadelphia Eagles hit the road in week two for another match-up against the AFC South. The Eagles travel to Indianapolis to take on the Colts in a Monday night showdown on national television. Chip Kelly will get a chance once again to coach against a former Pac-12 rival, Stanford alum and Colts starting quarterback Andrew Luck.READ MORE: 2 Police Officers Shot During Fourth Of July Festivities On Ben Franklin Parkway: Police
Indianapolis opened the 2014 season on the road against the defending AFC champions, the Denver Broncos. After digging a big hole, the Colts mounted a rally before ultimately dropping the first game of the season, 31-24.
The Colts are coming off a second straight 11-5 season under head coach Chuck Pagano. The Colts struggled in the preseason, playing all four games without recording a win.
The Colts lead the all-time series between the two franchises, 10-7. The series dates back to when the Colts played in Baltimore. The Eagles won the most recent meeting between the two, edging the Colts in Philadelphia 26-24 in 2010.
Colts on Offense
The Colts have a nice young nucleus put together that should grow and mature together this season. Andrew Luck is the franchise quarterback who continues to evolve in the NFL and he has a nice mix of receivers to work with. Reggie Wayne brings the veteran leadership to the offense and T.Y. Hilton gives the offense a dash of speed. The Colts added running back Trent Richardson last season and he has seen his ups and downs since joining the team. The Colts also have a nice tight end in Coby Fleener, who played with Luck at Stanford, so the two have a solid history and comfort level with each other.
Colts on DefenseREAD MORE: With Hints Of Yellow In Sea Of Red, White And Blue, Montgomery County Town Honors Ukrainian Refugees
The Colts will look to thrive using a 3-4 defensive format against the Eagles. Having an additional player back in the defense should clog some passing lanes for Nick Foles, who got off to a slow start in the season opener against the Jaguars. Last season the Colts gave up 3689.2 yards per game, so the Eagles should be able to move the football on the Colts. The Colts also struggled at times to get off the field on third downs in 2013, allowing 5.5 third-down conversions per game last season.
Colts Players to Watch
Wide Receiver, T.Y. Hilton: At just 5’ 9” Hilton can slip through the defense. His speed helps him find open field and leave defenders in the dust if he gets his hands on the football. Clamping down on him can be difficult, but necessary.
Running Back, Trent Richardson: The addition of Richardson to the offense was supposed to be the final piece of the puzzle that is the nucleus of the Colts offense. The move has not quite paid off just yet for the Colts but the optimism is still there. This will be a critical season for Richardson and he will have to be used to wear down the Eagles defense, especially in short yardage situations.
Coming off a sluggish start to the season, the Eagles will head on the road against one of the up and coming teams in the AFC. Playing on Monday night and playing the role of visitor for the Colts will be no easy task, so the Eagles will have to get off to a solid start and avoid sloppy play. Unlike Jacksonville, the Colts are a team that appears to be more likely to get the job done if spotted an early lead. The defense for the Colts does not appear to be too intimidating, but the Eagles defense will be tested by a slightly more experienced offensive unit Monday night compared to the season opener.
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Kevin McGuire is a Philadelphia area sports writer covering the Philadelphia Eagles and college football. McGuire is a member of the FWAA and National Football Foundation. Follow McGuire on Twitter @KevinOnCFB. His work can be found on Examiner.com.