The Indianapolis Colts can go 3-0 against NFC West opponents this season when they welcome the St. Louis Rams on Sunday afternoon at Lucas Oil Stadium.
The 6-2 Colts already dropped top NFC teams San Francisco and Seattle, and also claim victories over 7-1 Denver and division rival Houston for sole possession of the AFC South.
Andrew Luck completed the seventh fourth quarter comeback of his short 24-game career last week, connecting with receiver T.Y. Hilton for three touchdown passes in a 27-24 win over Houston. It was also the second time all season Indianapolis failed to rush for 100 yards.
The Rams couldn’t muster any momentum off their two-game home stand, and have lost three straight despite rookie running back Zac Stacy earning back-to-back 100-yard games with two touchdowns, and the defense forcing 11 total sacks.
Last week St. Louis picked off Tennessee quarterback Jake Locker twice, including once in the fourth quarter, but two lost fumbles and surrendering 198 rushing yards sealed a 28-21 loss.
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Even with the Rams struggling right now, Luck will have to keep an eye out for their pass rush. Third-year defensive end Robert Quinn is fourth in the NFL with 10.0 sacks, and veteran Chris Long has chipped in 5.5 of the Rams 29 total sacks on the season.
Hilton immediately stepped into the No. 1 receiver role that Reggie Wayne occupied for more than a decade, and now leads the Colts with five receiving touchdowns. All told Hilton’s gained 533 yards off 34 receptions, but will have a much more difficult time against a Rams secondary that’s found its stride.
While unable to snap their three-game slide, the Rams pass defense has allowed a measly 145.3 yards and three touchdowns during the streak. In the previous six games St. Louis gave up 258.2 yards and 11 passing touchdowns.
The Rams are still looking for some more consistency from quarterback Kelly Clemens since Sam Bradford went down with a torn ACL. In two starts Clemens has completed 53 percent of his passes for 368 yards, one touchdown, and two picks.
Clemens will face a Colts defense that will be a little short of depth, especially at left corner. Starting corner Greg Toler and third stringer Josh Gordy are both out with groin injuries, putting more pressure on Darius Butler. Reserve nose tackle Josh Chapman is also out after missing practice all week with a knee injury, while safety Delano Howell is also out with a neck injury.
The Rams will be without the services of starting right guard Harvey Dahl, and tight end Lance Kendricks and back-up quarterback Brady Quinn are doubtful.
Betting Odds: Indianapolis is favored by 11 points.
Over/Under: 44 points
Time: 1 p.m. ET
TV Channel: FOX
Where To Watch Online: NFL Sunday Ticket
Prediction: Indianapolis 20, St. Louis 17