Monday Night Football Preview: Can the Saints Keep Pace in the NFC?
This week's edition of Monday Night Football features the 6-7 Indianapolis Colts traveling to Seattle to face the 10-3 New Orleans Saints. With playoff implications on the line, tonight's showdown offers potential fireworks.
Losers of three straight games, the Colts fell to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers by a score of 38-35 last week. On the other side, the Saints also suffered a loss last week, by a score of 48-46 to the San Francisco 49ers. With both teams desperate for a win, here are a few matchups likely to influence the outcome of tonight's game.
Out-performing expectations, Jacoby Brissett continues managing games for the Colts. Brissett ranks middle-of-the-pack in most quarterback metrics. His 6.23 net yards per attempt ranks 18th, and his 63.2 completion percentage ranks 20th in the NFL. However, Brissett ranks outside the top 20 in average depth of target (7.28), speaking to his role as a game-managing quarterback. Fortunately for Brissett, the Saints rank 15th in pass defense, per our schedule-adjusted metrics. It looks like Brissett might also return star receiver T.Y. Hilton, potentially creating positive a scoring environment for the Colts.
On the other side, Drew Brees has continued to play at an elite level throughout 2019. Brees currently leads the NFL with a 73.6 Completion Percentage. He also ranks inside the top ten in net yards per attempt (7.18). With elite receiver Michael Thomas at his disposal, the Saints' offense remains capable of dicing up even the toughest defenses. This week, the Saints face a 17th-ranked Colts' pass defense, setting up Brees for another positive performance.
Running Back Breakdown
On the Colts' side, Marlon Mack returned from injury in Week 14 to carry the ball 13 times for 38 yards and a score. Primarily an early-down back, Mack played on 41 percent of Indianapolis' snaps last week. Instead, Nyheim Hines stepped up to play 56 percent of the snaps in a pass-first game script. The Saints currently rank 11th in run defense, according to our metrics, pointing to another sub-par game for the Colts' running game here.
For the Saints, Alvin Kamara and Latavius Murray comprise a 1-2 punch in this offense. A dynamic receiving weapon, Kamara ranks second at his position with 7.5 targets per game. However, Kamara and Murray have split carries in recent weeks. Over their last four games, Kamara averages 13 carries per game, with Murray slotting in at 7. This week, the Saints face the 14th-ranked Colts' run defense, opening potential run gaps for both backs.
Looking at the defensive side of the ball, the Colts rank 13th overall, while the Saints slot in 18th overall.
As for the Colts, Indianapolis ranks 17th against the pass and 14th against the run. On the other side, the Saints rank 15th against the pass and 11th against the run.
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