What a nice way for the NFL to get their season started. A couple of high-powered offenses with star power on both sidelines – Manning & Harrison, Brees & Bush – and the Colts celebrating their 2006 Championship. The concert on the Circle starts mid-afternoon and lasts until game time. There will be fireworks and everything! Speaking of fireworks, check out the numbers from the last time these two hooked up back in September of ‘03 – Peyton Manning threw for 314 yards & 6 TDs, (three to Harrison) on his way to a perfect 158.3 passer rating and a Colts 55–21 victory. Wow. Don’t expect those mind-blowing numbers Thursday night as the Saints come rolling into town fresh off their trip to the NFC Championship game last season. The Saints have a solid front seven and respectable corners that can hold their own against Harrison & Wayne… for a while, anyway. The Colts should be primed and ready for opening night and after shaking off their pre-game buzz, should pull away in the second half for a comfortable win.
Predicted Score: Colts 27, Saints 17
Fantasy Focus New Orleans: The Colts sported one of the worst run-defenses in 2006 allowing a whopping 173 yds per game. But before you go plugging Deuce McAllister into your lineup this week consider the Colts tightened during playoff time… when it counted. This game will have playoff energy and I would be extremely shocked to see McAllister and Bush rolling up yards on the ground. Bush’s versatility should standout on the turf creating some nice opportunities for the Saints in the passing game but on the whole, this could be a ho-hum night for the Saints passing offense, which has looked very much in rhythm during the preseason. The Colts had one of the better pass defenses in the league last season and would like nothing better than to make a statement. Better days to come, for Brees & Co., that’s for sure. TE Mark Campbell is out for this game with a bad back.
Start: QB Drew Brees, RB Reggie Bush
Consider: WR Marques Colston, TE Eric Johnson, RB Deuce McAllister, K Olindo Mare
Sit: WR Devery Henderson, TE Mark Campbell
Indianapolis: The Colts shouldn’t have too much trouble running against the Saints. For the beating the Colts-D took last season for its horrific run-defense, the Saints weren’t that much better, allowing 4.9 yds per carry. Alright, maybe a little better. Both defensive ends for the Saints (Will Smith & Charles Grant) are quick and like to get after the QB. Expect the Colts to take advantage with a few draw plays and a screen pass or two. There should be some nice running lanes for Addai in this one. Harrison and Wayne present an extremely tough matchup for any team and Manning simply doesn’t get sacked or make mistakes. It may be into the second half, but expect Peyton to find the groove and finish with a couple TDs under his belt.
Start: QB Peyton Manning, RB Joseph Addai, WR Marvin Harrison, WR Reggie Wayne, K Adam Vinatieri
Note: Team statistics are shown as the average per game
through Weeks 12 to 17 of the 2006 season after deducting the best
and worst value from the data set. The exception is yards per rush attempt, completion %, yards per
pass completion, yards per pass attempt and the NFL averages, which are each calculated based on
totals through Weeks 12 to 17 with no adjustment.
Defense Stats Comparison
Rushing yards per attempt
Passing yards per completion
Passing yards per attempt
Team vs. Team History
New Orleans Saints vs. Indianapolis Colts
Note: Only playoff games from the
2004 and 2005 seasons are included in the team vs. team history.
Playoff games from seasons prior to 2004 are not currently included in the database.