Questions Over Colts Quarterback And Rams Offensive Line Linger Heading Into Sunday's Game

Baltimore Ravens' Gus Edwards (35) is tackled by a group of Indianapolis Colts during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2023, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Baltimore Ravens' Gus Edwards (35) is tackled by a group of Indianapolis Colts during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2023, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
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Sunday, 1 p.m. EDT, CBS


SERIES RECORD: Colts lead 23-20-2.

AGAINST THE SPREAD: L.A. Rams 1-0-2, Indianapolis 2-1.

LAST MEETING: Rams beat Colts 27-24 on Sept. 19, 2021, in Indianapolis.

LAST WEEK: Rams lost to Bengals 19-16, Colts beat Ravens 22-19 in OT.





TURNOVER DIFFERENTIAL: Rams minus-3; Colts, plus-2.

RAMS PLAYER TO WATCH: QB Matthew Stafford. Two years ago, Stafford led the Rams to a Super Bowl title. Now he's struggling in a one-dimensional offense. His completion rate (60.3%) could be his lowest in a decade and he's thrown twice as many interceptions (four) as TDs (two). The Rams need Stafford, who also happens to be the Rams' second-leading rusher, to revert to his old form.

COLTS PLAYER TO WATCH: LB Zaire Franklin. Indy's defense has been solid and Franklin is one key reason. Last season, he broke the franchise's single-season record for tackles (167) and he's off to another fast start in 2023 with three straight double-digit games. He has a league-high 45 tackles and he needs to continue playing well to slow down the pass-heavy Rams.

KEY MATCHUP: Rams DT Aaron Donald vs. Colts ground game. The Donald vs. Jonathan Taylor matchup won't happen, but the three-time AP Defensive Player of the Year remains a feature attraction against suddenly surging Zack Moss. The fourth-year running back has emerged as a valuable replacement for the 2021 NFL rushing champ. Moss has rushed for 210 yards over the past two weeks and this matchup could be more intriguing — if QB Anthony Richardson plays.

KEY INJURIES: Rams right guard Joe Noteboom fought through shoulder and knee injuries Monday night and barring a setback, it appears he'll play Sunday. What's unclear is whether LT Alaric Jackson (thigh), TE Tyler Higbee (Achilles tendon) or WR Ben Skowronek (Achilles tendon) will. All-Pro WR Cooper Kupp (hamstring) will miss yet another game and impressive rookie WR Puka Nacua is dealing with an oblique injury. ... The biggest questions for Indy are Richardson and three-time Pro Bowl center Ryan Kelly, who both missed last week's game after entering the concussion protocol. Both were full participants in Wednesday's practice and could be cleared before the game.

SERIES NOTES: Los Angeles has won three straight in this series, including the past two at Indy. ... These franchises played twice a year from 1953-69 as members of the NFL's Western Conference. The split came in 1970 when the Colts moved to the AFC as part of the NFL-AFL merger. ... Hall of Fame RB Eric Dickerson, who still holds the NFL's single-season rushing record (2,105 yards) in 1984, suited up for both teams. Dickerson and Colts owner Jim Irsay both played football at SMU. ... Irsay's late father, Robert, bought the Rams in 1972 then traded the franchise to Carroll Rosenbloom for the Colts.

STATS AND STUFF: Los Angeles has lost two straight and five of seven since last December. The Rams are 6-14 since winning the Super Bowl in their home stadium. ... The team is making its second trip to the Midwest in a week, logging nearly 8,500 flight miles over the past week. ... With 8 yards passing, Stafford will become the 11th player in league history with 53,000. ... Nacua is second in the NFL with 30 receptions. He's the first player to catch at least 10 passes and produce 100 yards in his first two NFL games. ... Donald needs three tackles to pass Alec Ogletree (503) for second on the Rams list. He's also three fumble recoveries away from becoming the franchise's leader. ... Coach Sean McVay has a league-best 48-1 mark when the Rams are leading at halftime since 2017. ... Indy has won two straight since snapping an eight-game losing streak. The Colts need one win to earn regular-season No. 550. ... QB Gardner Minshew won last week in his first start with the Colts. He finished each of the past two games after taking over for the injured starter. ... If Richardson plays, he could become the first Colts quarterback to rush for a TD in three consecutive games played. ... Moss had 30 carries for 122 yards and caught his third career TD pass last week. ... WR Michael Pittman Jr. needs 36 yards receiving to pass Hall of Famer John Mackey (2,775 yards) for the fifth-highest total in franchise history over a player's first four seasons. ... Indy's defense leads the NFL in tackles for loss (23), is tied for second in sacks (12) and is tied for seventh in takeaways (seven). ... With 10 tackles, Franklin would tie Antoine Bethea for the fifth-most games (15) with double-digit tackles in Colts history.

FANTASY TIP: Taking the Colts defense comes with risk, but it could be a sneaky good pick. Indy is one of four teams with two sacks and a takeaway in all three of this season's games and leads the league in strip-sacks (five) and forced fumbles (seven) while recovering four (tied for second). Facing a short-handed offensive line and an opponent struggling to run could play into Indy's strengths.


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