It's time for another Titans-Colts game, which means it's time for another installment in my regular pregame Q&A with Colts blogger extraordinaire Nate Dunlevy. Nate currently writes for the Colts site Colts Authority and Bloguin's general NFL blog This Given Sunday, and is the co-host of Colts Central Radio. Nate has written two books, Blue Blood on the Colts and the novel Invincible, Indiana. His wife Deb is also an author, and I liked her YA fantasy The Book of Sight more than I did Invincible. You can (and should) follow him on Twitter. In addition to answering my questions, he sent me some questions for me to answer, and you can read my answers over at Colts Authority.
Total Titans: By Football Outsiders numbers, the Colts since the bye have had two pretty good offensive games, against the Texans and the Titans, and two pretty bad ones, against the Rams and the Cardinals. What are your expectations from the Indianapolis offense for Sunday?
Nate Dunlevy: The Indy offense is only as good as Andrew Luck can make it on any given day. The receiving options are limited, the line is bad and they don't run the ball well. What they do have a fantastic improvisational quarterback who when he's on, is good enough to carry them by himself. The problem is that injuries have so decimated the unit that now it's difficult for them to move the ball consistently.
If the Colts can get to 20 points, they'll be doing well.
Total Titans: What the heck is going on with the Indianapolis pass defense, which has now been pretty awful for the last four games? Is Greg Manusky just that bad at self-scouting that he stopped doing the things that worked and started doing the things that didn't?
Dunlevy: Here's the thing: they were never that good.
The Indy defense got a bit of a rep based on a few games. The San Francisco game was a referendum on Colin Kaepernick. They loaded the box on him and dared him to complete passes downfield. He simply couldn't. There were open men, but the quarterback failed to deliver the ball on time.
Against Seattle, Wilson missed several open men and cost his team 14 points at least.
Against Denver, they still gave up 31, but it was clear that Manning was hobbled in the second half with what proved to be double ankle sprains. Again, there were open men, but he couldn't get the ball to them. Passes came up short that normally would have gone for big gains.
So in all, I'd say the breaks that went for them early have stopped breaking their way and the result is that mediocre corners and a suspect pass rush have finally been exposed.
Total Titans Who should and will be the Colts' starting running back in 2014?
Dunlevy: I don't believe he's currently on the roster. Brown and Bradshaw are free agents. Vick Ballard is coming off ACL surgery and was only an average back when healthy.
That leaves Trent Richardson. Quite simply put, I don't believe he's an NFL-caliber running back. His snaps and touches have already been curtailed, indicating the coaches know that he simply isn't a quality back.
I suspect a draft choice or even UDFA supplants him as the starter in training camp of next year. I don't think he'll be in the league in 36 months.
Total Titans: Do you think this "playing an opponent twice in three weeks" stuff is as silly as I do, and if so, is there anyone outside of Park Avenue who thinks this is actually a good idea?
Dunlevy: It's insane. You should play your division games early and late so you get a snap-shot of the team you are playing at various stages of the season. So much depends upon winning the division, that monkeying around with the schedule for those games is dangerous.
Total Titans: A prediction for Sunday, if you care to make one, or a matchup to watch if you prefer.
Dunlevy: It's tempting to pick the Titans, but I think Luck pulls this one out: 23-20.
Thanks again to Nate for participating in the Q&A. Don't forget to check out Colts Authority for my answers to Nate's questions and lots of great Colts content. I'll be sitting with Nate at the game on Sunday, so stop by Sec. 614, Row 3 if you'll be there. I should be easy to identify in my customary #71 Roos jersey.