NFL 2017 Week 2: Arizona Cardinals vs. Indianapolis Colts preview and prediction

Two teams each missing their best offensive player meet in an effort to avoid going 0-2.

Week 1 recap

The Cardinals got off to a great start in their opener against Detroit, jumping out to the lead when Justin Bethel went 82 yards on an interception for a score en route to a 10-0 advantage. Things went badly downhill from there, as the Lions outscored them 35-13 from that point on for a 35-23 win. Turnovers were a big part of the problem, as Carson Palmer tossed three interceptions and star running back David Johnson lost a fumble before leaving with a wrist injury. The defense was torched by Matthew Stafford for four touchdown passes.

The Colts know they have a long road ahead of them as long as Andrew Luck is still recuperating from offseason shoulder surgery, and that point was driven home in an ugly 46-9 loss on the road to the Los Angeles Rams in their opener. Scott Tolzien had an awful time trying to replace Luck, throwing two picks that were returned for touchdowns before he was yanked. The Colts offense sputtered its way to just 225 yards of total offense in the blowout. The defense fared better only by comparison, as they struggled to contain Rams quarterback Jared Goff.

Life without David Johnson

The Cardinals received the news they feared early in the season when David Johnson was diagnosed with a wrist injury that needed surgery. It’s most likely that they’ll need a committee to handle his duties, with Kerwynn Williams, Andre Ellington and the newly re-signed Chris Johnson sharing the load. Even as a trio, this group won’t be able to match the diversity and explosiveness of Johnson, but they need to provide some kind of output.

Life without Andrew Luck: Part II

Andrew Luck will again miss this week, and the Colts can only hope that their passing game is on firmer footing this time around. Scott Tolzien made costly turnovers and couldn’t get the ball to playmakers TY Hilton and Donte Moncrief. It’s conceivable that Indianapolis turns to Jacoby Brissett, but he only recently arrived from New England and might need a slimmed-down playbook if he plays.

All eyes on Carson

Carson Palmer battled through a poor game in Week 1. The Cardinals offensive line couldn’t keep the Lions out of the pocket, which is trouble for a veteran who has zero mobility left. Not only does Johnson’s absence hurt the running game, he was also Palmer’s favorite release valve when pressure came. The Cardinals have a bunch of playmakers at receiver, but the line needs to keep the Colts pass rush away for a while so Palmer can take advantage.

Cardinals QB Carson Palmer vs. Colts S Malik Hooker

The Colts’ top pick had a quiet week in the opener, managing four tackles. The Cardinals don’t really do much with the tight end in the passing game, meaning that Hooker, who was a ball hawk at Ohio State, should be free to roam the secondary in an effort to make plays. If he can create a turnover or two, it could be the boost the Colts need to turn the game into their favor.

Fantasy football tip – Cardinals WR John Brown

Although Brown wasn’t much of a factor in the opening week loss against Detroit with just four catches. But the bottom line is that he was healthy after battling through the preseason, and he did receive nine targets. Should Palmer have more time to throw, he would benefit the most with his blazing deep speed.

Prediction: Arizona Cardinals 31-14 Indianapolis Colts

As bad as the Colts offense was a week ago, their defense was nearly as weak, allowing the Rams to do whatever they wanted. The Cardinals should be able to do the same.

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