KRAVITZ: 5 things to watch in Colts-Eagles game

Philadelphia Eagles running back Corey Clement (30) in congratulated by running back Wendell Smallwood (28) after Clement scored a touchdown against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Sunday, Sept. 16, 2018, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Bob Kravitz

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - Here are five things to watch in Sunday's Colts game against the defending Super Bowl champion Eagles in Philadelphia:

  • Limit Carson Wentz' impact in his long-awaited return to the football field after injuring his knee late last year. There's no question, he will provide the Eagles with a boost of energy, just as Andrew Luck's return gave the Colts some juice in the opener against the Bengals – until they ran out of it and got worked over late in the game, giving up 24 unanswered points. If I'm the Colts, I'm putting pressure on Wentz, who hasn't seen live game action in months. And it's highly doubtful the Eagles will put Wentz in a position to run the ball or do much of anything with his legs. He's coming back after nine months, so it's highly doubtful the Colts will see anything close to the state-of-the-art offense we all saw last year during the Eagles' run to the Super Bowl title.
  • These are not last year's Eagles, at not at this particular moment. Injuries have hit and hit hard at all the skill positions, leaving them short of receivers who can take the top off a defense. This is probably the best time the Colts could be playing the Eagles: The quarterback is making his long-awaited comeback and Philly's best pass-catching options are Zach Ertz and Nelson Agholor – both possession guys who do more of their work in the short and intermediate areas.
  • Take a page from the Washington game playbook and stay ahead of the chains with a consistently productive running game on early downs. The Colts, who still have tackle issues, cannot let defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz throw all kinds of blitz packages at the Colts, especially with Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox.
  • Looking for a matchup: Here's one – Cox, one of the best defensive linemen in the league, against veteran right guard Matt Slauson. Cox will line up over Slauson most of the game, although Graham will sometimes slip in there. Either way, it's a huge challenge for Slauson.
  • Take advantage of the inside knowledge the Colts have of the Eagles. Now, sure, the Eagles are very familiar with Frank Reich and know his tendencies, but the more people I talk to, the more I hear that Indy has the advantage in terms of knowing how the Eagles like to cooperate. Keep in mind, too, that defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus, whose group played so well against Washington, is intimately aware of Philly's tendencies given his history with the Dallas Cowboys.

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