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Pre-Game Recon: Five Questions With Stampede Blue

For the first time in a long time, two rival fan bases have a reunion! We've got Josh Wilson of Stampede Blue in the house to answer all of our burning questions on the Colts leading up to tonight's prime time showdown.

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1. Andrew Luck seems to be playing at a whole new level this season. What do you attribute to his jump from year two to three?

"To be honest, we haven't really seen much different from Luck this year, and it's not really a huge surprise to see him putting up the numbers he has been.  I think one of the biggest things that he has taken advantage of this year is an improved offensive line, which has given Luck more time to throw.  But overall, with Luck himself, he has been playing very well - but it's not a lot about what he's been doing differently.  I think the offense has been geared much more around him, especially in the past few weeks, and that has helped his numbers go up.  In short, I think we're just seeing a more polished and mature Andrew Luck but similar to the quarterback we have seen, just this year with much better numbers to show for it."

2. Talk about the Colts' run game. What should we expect from Trent Richardson and Ahman Bradshaw?

"The Colts have actually been running the ball relatively well this year.  Trent Richardson is much improved from a year ago (although that's not saying much) and then Ahmad Bradshaw is a terrific running back.  They both have been making some plays this year.  You should expect a good amount of rushing attempts from the Colts and you should expect them to get yardage, but ultimately if the Colts run the ball too much so that they don't give Luck enough chances, it'll only hurt the Colts.  They've been running the ball well, but it's all about Luck in terms of winning football games."

3. What is Indy's biggest weakness on defense, and how can it be exploited?

"There are a couple.  Firstly, target the tight end in the passing game.  The Colts have struggled to defend tight ends and the Texans would be wise to target them.  The Colts cornerbacks have been terrific this year, so taking advantage of the inside and a matchup of either a linebacker or safety on the tight end is one to definitely look for.  Additionally, though the Colts pass rush was phenomenal last week, I still consider it a big weakness and they will try to bring creative blitzes to make up for the lack of a star pass rusher.  If the Texans are aware of that possibility and ready to pick up blitzes, they should have plenty of time to throw the football (though I will add that last week the Colts pass rush exploded, so hopefully that can continue).  Finally, run the football.  The Colts have been better at defending the run this year than in recent years, but they're still not "good" in this area and especially with a back like Arian Foster, just keep pounding away at the Colts defense.  Odds are it'll work."

4. How do you feel about Chuck Pagano and Ryan Grigson? Are they as good as their record together indicates, or is their continued employment a product of Andrew Luck falling into their laps at first overall?

"This is a question that if you ask ten different Colts fans you'll probably get ten different answers.  Basically, I'm still not sure what to make of Ryan Grigson and Chuck Pagano.  Grigson's first year with the team was tremendous.  He made several great moves, and we can't overlook that.  But since then, his moves have been very questionable, to put it nicely.  This is a big year for Grigson, as the big money guys that he brought in or the high draft picks from the past two years really need to show something - anything, really.  Within the organization, Grigson is pretty safe for the time being, but the perception of fans seems to be growing more and more negative.

As for Chuck Pagano, he is also safe within the organization, but fans still aren't sure of him.  Pagano is a great person and it's hard not to like him in that regard, and he certainly knows how to motivate players.  His guys love playing for him.  But his in-game decisions have been suspect, and we're still not sure what to make of Pagano the coach.  I think we've seen great improvement from him so far this year, which gives hope.  I'm much more fond of Pagano than I am of Grigson, though I don't love either or hate either quite yet."

5. Put your name on it:  The score to this game will be Colts ______, Texans _______.  Why?

"I'll say Colts 27, Texans 17.  I look at the matchup of Andrew Luck versus Ryan Fitzpatrick and think that could very well be the difference in this game.  The Texans defense has been very much of a "bend but don't break" defense this year, so I think the Colts should be able to move the ball on them.  The real test will be converting in the red zone (which the Colts have struggled at this year), but I think they will do that enough to win.  Defensively, Arian Foster is a challenge not to take lightly, but if that's all the Texans can do, I don't think they'll put up enough points to win against Luck and the Colts' passing offense."

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