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The 8-6 Indianapolis Colts are on track to earn the 5th AFC playoff seed, and better yet they are just a game behind the Tennessee Titans in the AFC South, so a win here is helpful on all sorts of football levels and QB Carson Wentz is starting to show occasional signs of greatness, his passing attack exponentially assisted by the stellar production of RB Jonathan Taylor.
The entire football world was shocked to watch the 10-4 Arizona Cardinals get blown out by the biggest losers in the NFL this season, the Detroit Lions, 30-12, but that loss most likely sparked QB Kyler Murray and HC Kliff Kingsbury to double up their efforts for these final three games that could determine their playoff seeding fate, that number one slot now held by the Packers.
These two cross-conference rivals have faced each other 17 previous times, with the Arizona Cardinals winning 9 of those games and the Indianapolis Colts winning 8 of the games.
Right now in the middle of the playoff hunt, the Indianapolis Colts have the league’s leading rusher, Jonathan Taylor, and that gives them an advantage over most teams, especially in the type of brutal winter weather that teams typically play in during the colder months.
Taylor has decent size – he is 5’ 10” and weighs 226 pounds – but it’s his patience and bursts of speed and power that make him tough to track, even tougher to tackle, and almost impossible to bring to the ground, so far this year playing a major role in OC Marcus Brady’s game plans.
2021 is Taylor’s second pro season and right now he leads the league in total carries (270) and total rushing yards (1,518) and has the league’s longest run of the season (83 yards), all for a league leading 17 touchdowns, the best kind of player to have in the harsh postseason.
In yet another example of the parity that the NFL brags about, last week the league’s winningest team, the Arizona Cardinals, got blown out the league’s losing-est team, the Detroit Lions, and though nobody in HC Dan Campbell’s locker room was shocked, the rest of us certainly were.
No telling how QB Kyler Murray could have had such a poor performance, his interception and two sacks making him look far more unsteady than he has ever appeared since his rookie season, his 56.1 completion percentage in that matchup his lowest this year.
Murray is 8-3 as the Cardinals starter under center this season, with 252 completions for over 3,000 yards and 20 touchdowns with ten interceptions, a team leader with a short memory that will most likely let last week’s stinker go.
Now that Indy QB Carson Wentz has been reunited with Frank Reich, his former offensive coordinator with the Eagles, the struggling hurler is seeming like the outstanding playmaker he has been in the past, and that comes just in time for the Colts’ key run-up to the postseason.
Wentz will face his biggest challenge yet against this Cardinals’ 5th ranked pass defense, but he and Reich will find a clever balance between their passing and running attack with RB Taylor and keep Arizona’s defense off-balance with all the various ways they have to earn yardage.
This season Wentz is the 19th most productive quarterback, so far with 432 attempts and 271 completions for 3,005 yards and 23 touchdowns with just 6 interceptions, all stats that should be improving as this team plays well enough to earn some January football.
After spending his first four NFL seasons playing with the Pittsburgh Steelers, RB James Conner has perhaps found his forever home in Arizona where his speed and powerful running style has earned him a primary spot in HC / OC Kliff Kingsbury’s offense.
Conner has impressive size for being such an elusive back, his 6’ 1” 233-pound frame kept low and tough to tackle as he patiently finds and exploits O-line creases and holes, this year with 187 carries for 700 yards and 14 touchdowns in the fourteen games in which he has played.
The other impressive side of Conner is his ability to block and then get open for a catch, this season with 31 receptions for 334 yards and 2 touchdowns, a dual-threat out of the backfield that has proven to be extra tough to defend against.
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|Colts vs Cardinals Information|
|What||Indianapolis Colts vs Arizona Cardinals|
|Where||State Farm Stadium in Glendale, AZ|
|When||Saturday, December 25, 2021; 8:15 PM ET|
|How to watch||NFL Network|
Mike Lukas is a retired standup comedian turned freelance writer now living in Dallas, Texas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for the game of football and all things Cleveland Browns turned Mike into a pro blogger years ago. Now Mike enjoys writing about all thirty-two NFL teams, hoping to help football gamblers gain a slight edge in their pursuit of the perfect wager. Email: [email protected]More info on Mike Lukas
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