The Philadelphia Eagles and Indianapolis Colts are expected to represent two of the eight division winners in the 2014 NFL season, after both made the playoffs last year. In Week 2, the two teams will close out the schedule when they meet each other on "Monday Night Football."
Both teams made second-half comeback attempts in the opening week, though only one was successful. The Eagles trailed the Jacksonville Jaguars 17-0 at halftime, but outscored their opponent 34-0 in the final two quarters. The Colts gave themselves a chance in Denver after falling behind 24-0, but they fell short by a touchdown.
Chip Kelly’s high-powered Philadelphia offense is led by Nick Foles, who is in his first season as a full-time starter. Foles struggled in the first part of the opening game, but ended strong to finish with 322 yards and two touchdowns. The quarterback threw just two interceptions in 13 games last year, but he’s already halfway to that total after being picked off in Week 1.
Without DeSean Jackson, who was the Eagles’ top receiver in 2013, Foles relied on Jeremy Maclin as his No.1 target. He also hit tight end Zach Ertz for 77 yards and a score, and the second-year tight end could see his production greatly increase in 2014.
The Colts’ biggest challenge might be containing Philadelphia’s running backs. Last year, LeSean McCoy’s 1,607 rushing yards led the NFL. This season, he’ll share some carries with Darren Sproles, who ran for 71 yards and a touchdown on 11 attempts in the opener.
Andrew Luck could give the Eagles a lot of trouble, as he comes off a second straight Pro Bowl season. Philadelphia had the NFL’s worst pass defense last year, and allowed Chad Henne to throw for 266 yards last week. Luck has Reggie Wayne at his disposal, after the wide out missed most of last year with an injury. Indianapolis also signed Hakeem Nicks, who caught five passes in his Colts debut.
Luck and the offense might have to put up a lot of points to give the Colts a chance. Dating back to last year’s playoffs, Indianapolis has given up over 39 points per game in its last three contests. Linebacker Robert Mathis, coming off a season that saw him get 19.5 sacks, is out for the season, and his replacement failed to pressure Peyton Manning once.
Monday night’s contest might be the most exciting of Week 2. The game features the highest over/under of any contest on the schedule, according to Las Vegas casinos. With the point total set at 54, both quarterbacks are projected to put up big numbers.
The game is considered a tossup, as the point spread has Indianapolis favored by three points at home. In the past decade, the Colts have sported one of the biggest home-field advantages in football, losing more than two home games in a season just once since 2004. Last year, the Eagles tied for the best road record at 6-2.
While it’s early in the season, a win for the Eagles could help separate themselves from the rest of the NFC East, who all lost in Week 1. The Colts are trying to avoid a 0-2 start, playing in a division that could be much improved in 2014. The Tennessee Titans began the season with a convincing road win against a playoff team, and the Houston Texans also got a victory last week.
Prediction: At home, Luck should be able to move the ball well on Philadelphia’s defense. However, the Eagles could have just as much success against an Indianapolis defense that is without much of a pass rush. The slight edge goes to the Eagles, who’ll have the best playmaker on the field and a better chance of getting to the opposing quarterback.
Predicted Score: Philadelphia over Indianapolis, 31-30