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Pre-Game Recon: Five Questions With Stampede Blue

Josh Wilson of our sister site, Stampede Blue, stops by to update us on our Indiana rivals since last seeing them down in Houston.

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1. Do you believe Andrew Luck deserves the MVP over Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, or J.J. Watt, and why?

No - if I had an MVP vote, it would go to Aaron Rodgers this year.  But for the sake of the argument (because I do think Andrew Luck definitely deserves to be in the discussion), I'll lay out a case for Luck.  He leads the NFL's top offense and is the leading passer in the league this year.  He's number one in passing yards and has been for most of the season.  He's tied for first in touchdown passes with Peyton Manning.  He's on pace to throw for 5,298 yards, which would be the third highest total all-time, and he's on pace to throw for 44 touchdown passes, which would tie for the seventh-best all-time.  He's added three scores rushing as well and has shown that he can be a threat running the football - in fact, leading the Colts in rushing a couple of times this season.

While he's putting up some great numbers, though, perhaps the strongest argument for Luck for MVP is that he's doing this with less than some of the other quarterbacks.  The Colts' offensive line isn't good, and they really don't have a running game as long as they continue to trot Trent Richardson out there.  And let's not get into the defense, which has had some really bad games against good teams this year.  Ultimately, I think Luck will win multiple MVP awards in his career and I think he's in the discussion this year, but if I had a vote, it'd go to Aaron Rodgers.

2. What are your realistic expectations for how the Colts finish out this year in both the regular and post seasons?

That's a great question.  Realistically, I expect them to get a home playoff game in the wild card round (for winning the AFC South) and perhaps pull out a win in that game, but then lose in the divisional round at either New England or Denver. That is what I see as the most realistic possibility: host a playoff game, win a playoff game, but then lose on the road in the second round.  I think that going to New England would essentially be a death sentence for this team, and while I do think they could go in to Denver and win, it's not the most realistic scenario.  So I think they'll have a good finish but one that leaves everyone unsatisfied and wanting more - just like last year.

3. What is Indy's greatest weakness on offense and defense at this point in the season?

Offensively, there are a couple of concerning things - notably the running game and the offensive line, but I actually think the biggest weakness is their turnovers.  In the last three weeks, they have turned the ball over A LOT, yet neither the Jaguars nor the Redskins nor the Browns were able to take advantage of it and pull out a win.  That won't be the case when playoff football rolls around, and if the Colts don't get their turnover issue under control (last year they led the league with the fewest turnovers - 14), they'll be going home shortly after the playoffs begin.

Defensively, there are several weaknesses that teams have been able to exploit.  They're not overly great against the run, as the Patriots showed.  They're not good at covering the tight end in the passing game, as most opponents have showed.  They're very much reliant on blitzes to get pressure, and that can fail if a team adds extra protection, as the Steelers showed.  The Steelers also showed how to throw the secondary (which is the strength of the defense) out of sync by forcing them into zone coverage by using bunch receiver formations.  I'm not sure if any one of them can be considered the biggest weakness, but they all are things that can be exploited by teams depending on their focus.

4. With Trent Richardson failing once again this season (to my genuine surprise), the Colts are probably unlikely to spend a high pick on a running back anytime soon. That being said, Indiana Hoosier faithful that also root for the Horsehoe might look at junior running back Tevin Coleman as the "savior" to the Colts' running game. What are your thoughts on Indy's draft plans, and should they completely stay away from taking running backs in the first two rounds from here on out?

That's a very tough question, because though the team needs help at the running back position, I think the Colts should know better than most teams to be careful about using a high pick for a running back.  My stance is that I don't think the Colts should take a running back in the first two rounds, partly because I'm wary of taking a back with a high pick but probably moreso because I know this team needs defensive help.

I would be very surprised if the Colts choose to use their first round draft pick on a running back and would still be surprised if they used a second round pick on one.  Tevin Coleman is a great back, and I know many Colts fans want the team to draft him, but I'd be wary about taking a back with a high pick, especially given the other needs the team has, and I think the Colts are inclined to think the same way.  But, as we all know, come draft time anything can happen.

5. What is your prediction for the game?

I think this will be a hard-fought battle for all four quarters of the game, and I expect it to be very much back and forth between the two teams.  The Texans are treating this game like a playoff game and the Colts have talked about needing to match that intensity.  The division title is on the line for Indy, and if they win they'll clinch it.  I could see this game being one in which the Colts fall behind and have to pull out a close one, but I do see Indy doing just enough to get it done in a close one.

A big thank you to Josh for taking the time to answer our questions. For more of his work and to see what Colts fans are saying about Sunday's game, head on over to Stampede Blue.  You can also check out my answers to his questions about the Texans by clicking here.

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