The third preseason game is usually the most important one of the preseason; coaches sometimes even game plan for the game and the starters usually play almost a half of football. It appears that the premier matchup of the third week is between the New Orleans Saints and the Indianapolis Colts.
This matchup features two of the top quarterbacks in the NFL in Andrew Luck and Drew Brees. This is going to be Brees’ first game this season after he sat out the first two with an oblique injury. Luck is going to look to continue his strong preseason too, but he is going to face a tough test with the Saints’ defense.
As for the running backs, Mark Ingram has had a great preseason; he is going to be facing a tough test with the Colts’ run defense, which has played surprisingly well in the preseason. Trent Richardson has improved since last year, although it hasn’t has been as major of a step forward as Colts fans were hoping for. It is going to be interesting to see how well he plays in his third preseason game as well.
At the wide receiver position, the Colts are probably going to have T.Y. Hilton back after a week off last week, and the return of Reggie Wayne could be possible this week. With the Saints, look for how well Brandin Cooks plays with Brees, along with Marques Colston and Kenny Stills. All three are going to be a big test for the Colts’ cornerbacks.
The Saints have one of the strongest interior offensive lines in the NFL, and they have been responsible for a great running game in the preseason. Their matchup with the Colts’ defensive line is going to be fun to watch. With the Colts’ offensive line, it’s going to be about how well they play against an aggressive defense. They are going to give them multiple looks, and Colts fans should pay attention to how well they can protect Luck.
Along the defensive line, the Colts are going to try and continue to stop the run. Arthur Jones, Josh Chapman and Cory Redding have all played well in terms of stopping the run, and they are going to face a big test with the Saints. The Colts’ linebackers have played very well this preseason thanks in part to the play of the defensive line. D’Qwell Jackson has been very aggressive in the preseason, while Jerrell Freeman should be returning from injury this week too. Fans should turn their attention to Curtis Lofton, who is playing a vital role in the middle of the defense.
The secondaries are going to be facing big tests this week. Both Luck and Brees are capable of playing a big game, and it will be interesting to see how each of the teams’ secondary units hold up against an elite signal caller. If the Saints can’t get to Luck, they are going to be in trouble because that is going to leave a lot of one-on-ones on the outside.
This is going to be a test to see how well the Colts can hold up too. The Saints’ passing game is 10 times better than that of the New York Giants and the New York Jets, and although they looked good against those teams, they are going to have to play at another level if they want to stop the Saints.
Finally, the matchup both Colts and Saints fans should be looking for is between Freeman and Jimmy Graham. Graham is the best tight end in the NFL, and the Colts are probably going to match him up with Freeman. If he can hold his own against Graham, it will go a long way in showing the Colts’ coaching staff what they can do on defense.
Ultimately, this game is going to be a big test for both teams. The Saints’ defense has not faced an offense like the Colts. The Colts’ defense hasn’t done the same either. Both are going to be asked to do a lot to prevent this game from becoming a shootout.