NFL 2017 Week 1: Indianapolis Colts vs. Los Angeles Rams Preview and Prediction

The Rams break in a new coach with excitement while the Colts put in a new quarterback with trepidation.

2016 recap

For the most part, Andrew Luck battled his way through nagging injuries to put up outstanding passing numbers again for Indy, as he threw 31 TD passes. TY Hilton exploded for 1,448 yards receiving as Luck’s go-to target. But that wasn’t nearly enough to put the Colts into the postseason, as they lumbered to a .500 record. The main culprit was a defense that finished 30th in the league in yards allowed and permitted defenses to do what they wanted with little resistance or threat of a turnover. 

The Rams first year back in Los Angeles proved to be the last one for head coach Jeff Fisher. After a surprising 3-1 start, the team flatlined, losing 11 of their last 12 games. An unimaginative passing game didn’t help top draft pick Jared Goff in his first NFL season, although Goff’s play wasn’t very inspiring on its own. Teams stacked the box against running back Todd Gurley, who saw the gaudy stats from his rookie season in 2015 crater a year ago. The stout defense eventually wore down as well, and the Rams were blown out in many of their late-season losses.

Out of Luck

The good news is that Andrew Luck’s recovery from January surgery is nearly complete, and the Colts didn’t have to put him on IR, meaning he should be back soon. The bad news is that it won’t be Sunday when he returns, which means Scott Tolzien will get the call behind center. Tolzien’s previous NFL play has been mediocre at best, and the Colts’ stats when Luck sits are not pretty. The Colts are going to be hard-pressed to score.

The new kid in town 

New Rams coach Sean McVay is all of 31 years old, making him the youngest head coach in the history of the league. What’s more important than his age is his experience, or at least the Rams hope it is. For the past few seasons he was in charge of a Redskins offense that Kirk Cousins rode to career numbers at quarterback. The Rams hope it does the same for Goff, who gets a soft landing in game one against the Indy defense.

Todd’s on 

What Los Angeles fans would like to see in 2017 is a passing attack respectable enough to take defenders out of the box, allowing Todd Gurley to once again run at will. It was hard to judge Gurley’s performance a year ago, since it seemed like he rarely had the daylight to do any damage. In 2015 as a rookie, he looked like one of the best backs in the game. The Colts might decide to still roll the dice with Goff and try to take Gurley away.

Rams WR Sammy Watkins vs Colts CB Quincy Wilson

As harmful as Luck’s absence to the offense, not having injured CB Vontae Davis could be just as damaging to the Colts defense. Wilson is a second-round pick out of Florida who should have a bright future, but asking him to take on Watkins, who is healthy, at least to begin the season, in his new environment, is awful ambitious.

Fantasy football tip – RB Marlon Mack

If this game gets out of hand early, which, with Tolzien under center against a scary Rams front seven it might, don’t be surprised if the Colts use the opportunity to get Mack, a promising rookie back, as many touches as possible. That makes him a DFS sleeper if you’re desperate at the running back position.

Prediction: Los Angeles Rams 21-9 Indianapolis Colts

No quarterback is more valuable to his team than Luck; just look at how the betting line changed in this game once it was announced he was out. The Sean McVay era starts off with a win.

  1. Who will win this game?

    1. Indianapolis Colts
    2. Los Angeles Rams
    10 votes
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Jim Beviglia

Jim is a freelance writer concentrating on music and sports. He is the author of four books and writes for several online and print publications. He lives in Old Forge, Pennsylvania with his wife Marie and his daughter Daniele.