AFC South: Seahawks-Colts 100409

Posted by’s Paul Kuharsky

Before heading back to Nashville from Indianapolis, here's everything you need to read on the AFC South Monday morning:

Houston Texans
Indianapolis Colts
Jacksonville Jaguars
Tennessee Titans

Posted by's Paul Kuharsky

INDIANAPOLIS -- Division games can always be difficult and the toughest opponents the Colts will face this year are still to come.

But Indianapolis’ easy dominance of Seattle Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium reconfirms a longstanding Colts’ tenet: You’re not going to get a dud in a game like this out of Peyton Manning and the boys. Colts 34, Seahawks 17.

Everybody played well in boosting the Colts to 4-0, where they sit two games up on 2-2 Houston and 2.5 up on 2-2 Jacksonville, who they beat on opening day. The team that dethroned the Colts as AFC South champs last season, Tennessee, is 0-4 and not in good shape as it prepares to host Indy at LP Field in a week.

This one fit the template. Effective offense meant the Colts were quickly playing from ahead and Manning was surgically precise.

Playing from ahead set the pass rush free. Robert Mathis twice sacked and stripped Seneca Wallace, putting balls on the ground for teammates to recover.

Two late scores by the Seahawks didn’t do much to alter the feel of another solid Indianapolis effort.

In the AFC South, the Colts remain in the familiar position of playing from ahead.

Colts' defense gets big play, too

October, 4, 2009

Posted by's Paul Kuharsky

INDIANAPOLIS -- Don’t forget the defense.

In case the Seahawks were getting any sense they could take advantage of a Peyton Manning interception ...

Dwight Freeney put big pressure on Seneca Wallace, who escaped only to get clobbered by Robert Mathis, who did what Robert Mathis does -- stripped the quarterback while recording a sack. Freddy Keiaho recovered.

A stifling defensive effort continues.

I’m not feeling like the Seahawks, who have 170 yards through three quarters, are going to threaten the end zone.

Posted by's Paul Kuharsky

INDIANAPOLIS -- Peyton Manning is just the second quarterback in league history to throw 55 or more touchdown passes to two different receivers.

Dan Marino threw 79 to Mark Clayton and 55 to Mark Duper.

Manning’s second-quarter scoring pass to Reggie Wayne Sunday afternoon against Seattle was the 55th scoring connection between the two.

Manning and Marvin Harrison hooked up a record 112 times.

Halftime notes from Indy

October, 4, 2009

Posted by's Paul Kuharsky

INDIANAPOLIS -- The methodical Colts are getting minimal resistance from Seattle, and have this game in complete control at the half with a 21-3 lead.

A couple of quick thoughts:
  • Seattle’s actually doing a reasonably nice job getting Seneca Wallace out of the direct line of fire by rolling him out and making it more difficult for the Colts to get direct shots on him. Still, he’s feeling people closing on him from all angles and hasn’t had too many chances to comfortably look downfield.
  • Meanwhile Peyton Manning’s hit 17 of 20 passes and has two TDs and a 145.8 passer rating.
  • Indy’s defensive backs have done well on some short throws to wrap up receivers quickly and not allow them to turn into anything significant. Melvin Bullitt made a tremendous open-field tackle on Deion Branch when Branch tried to cut all the way across the field. Think of who’s missing here -- Bob Sanders, Kelvin Hayden. The Colts are hardly flinching without those guys.
  • The Seahawks have hurt themselves with penalties, though the Colts have made plays on some of them and declined. I feel like some Seattle guys have overreached on those plays because they had little choice based on what the Colts were doing. Hold or get the QB killed, etc.
  • Manning has to be thrilled with the progress of Pierre Garcon, Austin Collie and Donald Brown. They’ve all made big plays in the first half. I suspect you’ll be reading more about them in this space a bit later.

Join us for 'Cover it Live'

October, 4, 2009

Posted by's Paul Kuharsky

INDIANAPOLIS -- I wanted to send you an Evite, but I’ve misplaced your e-mail address.

If you’ve got a computer on your lap while you’re watching NFL action unfold, then you should do what all the popular kids are doing: Join Scouts Inc. and members of’s NFL Blog Network in “Cover it Live” where we’ll chit chat a bit as things unfold.

We start right at kickoff of the early games. Just head here.

Freeney is in starting lineup

October, 4, 2009

Posted by's Paul Kuharsky

INDIANAPOLIS -- Dwight Freeney is active for the Colts against the Seahawks, so he was on target with his talk about quick healing and being ready with a quad injury that was reported to cost him at least a couple of games.

Left cornerback Kelvin Hayden (hamstring) is out and will be replaced by Tim Jennings. Middle linebacker Gary Brackett (knee) is out and will be replaced by Freddy Keiaho.

Rookie Jerraud Powers will start at right cornerback for Marlin Jackson, who's been playing nickel.

And the team made one roster move, cutting running back returner Chad Simpson, who’s been dealing with an abdomen injury, and signing Mike Hart.

Here’s the whole list of inactives:

Posted by’s Paul Kuharsky

Greetings from Indianapolis, where I will head over to Lucas Oil Stadium shortly to get ready for Seahawks-Colts.

Here's your mandatory morning pregame reading:

Houston Texans
Indianapolis Colts
Jacksonville Jaguars
Tennessee Titans

Posted by's Paul Kuharsky

If the Seahawks have any early success against Peyton Manning Sunday, it may not be cause to be encouraged.
Peyton Manning in the 4th quarter
Comp. pct. 83.3 NFL rank: 1
Yds/att 12.9 NFL rank: 1
Passer rtg 137.3 NFL rank: 2

Manning’s gotten progressively better in each of his undefeated team’s three games so far this season.

From the fine folks at ESPN Stats and Information:

Broken down by quarter, Manning has posted season-lows in completion percentage (64.0), yards-per-attempt (8.9) and passer rating (72.8) in the first period.

His final three quarters this season have been nearly flawless, as he's accumulated a 133.5 passer rating and thrown six touchdown passes without an interception. Manning's production has steadily increased with each quarter, culminating in fourth-quarter numbers that lead the NFL in completion percentage and yards-per-attempt (minimum 15 attempts).

The quarterback who ranks ahead of Manning in fourth-quarter passer rating? Eli Manning of the Giants, at 137.5.

AFC South: Final Word

October, 2, 2009

Posted by's Paul Kuharsky

NFC Final Word: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Five nuggets of knowledge about Sunday’s games:

  Fernando Medina-US PRESSWIRE
  Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew can hurt opponents on screen passes.
Screen passes can be big in Titans-Jaguars: With Tennessee hell bent on stopping runs and getting to David Garrard, the Jaguars are likely to hurt them with at least a few screens with Maurice Jones-Drew getting the ball in some space. The Titans would be wise to mix in some screen themselves on offense. Chris Johnson’s been getting stopped for a lot of losses, and they’d be wise to attempt to get him outside with at least a couple short throws.

The Colts will pass rush OK without Dwight Freeney: Raheem Brock won’t be working against Walter Jones, also expected to miss the game hurt. And the quarterback Brock and his linemates will be chasing isn’t Matt Hasselbeck but Seneca Wallace. The absence of Freeney can hurt more next week in Tennessee, but it shouldn’t have a huge impact here.

Houston’s got all kinds of incentive: A month that they expected to produce a 3-1 record can end at best at 2-2. Oakland’s passing attack is unthreatening, which should allow the Texans to focus on the run as much as necessary to settle down in that department. A year ago the Texans went to Oakland and blew a big chance to get to 8-7 and produced a dud. The Texans recovered well from their Week 1 debacle against the Jets. Can they do the same following a Week 3 disappointment?

The Titans will concentrate on the ground games: This should be a get-back-to-basics scenario where they will try to run and stop the run. The Jaguars are average against the run and the Titans are equipped to emphasize stopping the dangerous Jones-Drew without running too much risk against a middling passing attack. One X-factor that could work in Jacksonville’s favor: more end-around and misdirection stuff keyed around rookie receiver Mike Thomas.

Look for another big moment from Pierre Garcon: The bulk of the balls are going to be aimed at Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark. But Peyton Manning has cause for having confidence in Garcon, who made big plays for him in Miami and Arizona. The Colts will want to keep building Garcon as an additional, viable option and I’d expect he’ll have another chance or to for impact plays.

Posted by's Paul Kuharsky

Here’s an interesting thing we should be watching for Sunday's Seahawks-Colts matchup: What is Seattle able to do out of three-wide formations?

The Seahawks have been good out of three-wide, and the Colts have fared very well against it, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Of Seattle’s 121 pass attempts, 73 have come with three or more receivers in the formation (60.3 percent).

Seattle's tendency to spread the field may actually work in the Colts' favor, though, as Indy's defensive unit thrives against pass-first offensive formations.
Seahawks offense and Colts defense: Passing with or defending 3+ WR sets, 2009
Seahawks offense Colts defense
Comp. pct. 67.1 56.9
Yards 508 458
Yds./att. 6.9 5.8
TD-Int 3-1 1-3

We’ll learn more later Friday about the status of cornerback Kelvin Hayden (hamstring), who missed the Arizona game and didn’t practice Wednesday or Thursday. The team’s other top corner, Marlin Jackson, is coming off a major knee injury last season and has appeared in all three games but not yet worked as a starter.