The Saints’ defense is coming off back-to-back weeks of allowing the opposition to score 20+ points for the first time since Week 10-11 of 2022. With the offense still trying to find its footing, the Saints are going to need another defensive masterclass this Sunday if they want to escape with a win.
The Colts offense has exceeded expectations so far. They’ve scored 20+ points in every game this year despite not having their first round QB, Anthony Richardson, for a good chunk of the year.
Gardner Minshew has been playing pretty well for the Colts, and despite having some turnover problems, he was able to lead the Colts to 38 points against the Browns who have one of the top defenses in the entire league.
Do I think the Colts offense is good? Yes. Do I think they’ll be able to replicate their performance from a week ago and score 38 points? No.
Gardner Minshew has always been a streaky player, and despite throwing for 634 yards over the past two weeks, he also has a 3-4 TD/INT ratio. The Saints’ defense is tied for third in interceptions forced, picking off eight passes in the team's first seven games. Dennis Allen is great at scheming up different coverages, and I expect the Saints defense to be able to bait Minshew into a pick or two.
Marshon Lattimore had a great performance against the Jags where he held Calvin Ridley to just one catch, and he’s going to have to do it again against Michael Pittman who is having his best season to date. Alontae Taylor was shaken up in the Saints Thursday Night game against the Jags, but he was not listed on the injury report so he should be good to go. He’ll likely be lined up against Josh Downs, the Colts third round rookie who has been putting a solid season together. If he can slow the rookie down, the Saints defense should have no problem defending the Colts passing game.
The Colts have slowly been working Jonathan Taylor back into the run game after his whole offseason debacle. Last week, Taylor rushed 18 times for 75 yards and a touchdown against a very stout Browns defense. Zach Moss has also been getting a lot of work in the Colts backfield, and he has been a very surprising weapon for them. He’s amassed 523 yards and four touchdowns on the ground as well as 115 yards through the air. The Saints defensive front has a big task ahead of them trying to stop this Colts run game, and so far, they’ve been pretty average against the run. This facet of the game will likely be the X-factor.
The Saints currently ranks second in opponent third down conversion percentage, allowing their opponent to convert at a 30.53% clip. The Colts, however, rank 17th in the league in 3rd down conversion percentage, converting just 39.6% of the time. The key for the Saints defense will be to get the Colts into some third downs, because if they do, they should be able to have a very successful outing on Sunday.
Overall, I think this is a very good chance for the Saints to bounce back after allowing the Jags offense to score 24 points last week. The Saints’ defense is so good that it’s kind of funny that allowing a team to score 24 points is considered a “bad game” for the unit, but the Saints will need them to have a good night if they want to win this game.