Indianapolis Colts Progress Report: Where Things Stand Heading into Week 13

Nate Dunlevy@NateDunlevyGuest ColumnistNovember 27, 2012

Is Luck getting gun-shy?
Is Luck getting gun-shy?Thomas J. Russo-US PRESSWIRE

The Indianapolis Colts are 7-4 on the 2012 season and in second place in the AFC South.

In Week 13, they travel to Ford Field to take on the Detroit Lions

The Colts rank 16th on offense, 32nd on defense and 28th overall in DVOA.

Primary Talking Point for Week 13

Expectations for Andrew Luck are getting out of hand.

After a pedestrian 240-yard, one-touchdown, one-interception effort, there were whispers that perhaps he was getting gun-shy. Some fans questioned if he was regressing.

It's gotten to the point with Luck where people are expecting eye-popping stats each week or they wonder what's wrong.

In some ways, that's to be expected. With Robert Griffin III putting up huge numbers on Thanksgiving Day, it's natural that Luck's play against Buffalo would elicit yawns.

That shouldn't be.

Luck's performance was much better than people realize.

Indianapolis was burdened with poor field position all day, and Luck was saddled with Donnie Avery, who had the worst game of any wide receiver in the NFL in Week 12. With a leaky offensive line, Luck did a nice job flipping the field on the Bills and staking Indy to a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter.

Thanks in part to his game-sealing drive deep in Bills' territory, Luck posted a QBR score of 67.2. That was good for 13th in the NFL in Week 12. That number may not carry a lot of instinctive meaning for fans, but essentially, it's the same score Matt Schaub of the Texans has on the season.

The big-stat days will come for Luck eventually, but the Colts don't have all the right personnel for those to be commonplace right now.

Indy won its seventh game of the year with a defense that is allergic to turnovers, a suspect run game, a weak line and a bunch of rookies on offense.

There's nothing wrong with Luck. He's still lighting it up on third down, keeping plays alive and flipping the field.

The same reasons the advanced stats have loved him all year are still at work.

Injury Outlook

The already decimated Colts got more bad injury news on Monday, as Bruce Arians announced Fili Moala was going on IR.

Arians said:

He got an ACL in the ballgame and will be out for the year. Everybody else came out pretty clean. We should be able to get (Coby) Fleener and (Vontae) Davis back this week. Obviously it’s a blow because Fili was playing extremely well for us.

Getting Fleener and Davis back should greatly boost both sides of the ball.

Player on the Rise

Jerrell Freeman has been an absolute find for the Colts.

With the early-season loss of Pat Angerer, Indianapolis looked to be in serious trouble at linebacker.

Freeman has filled in so well that Angerer now has trouble getting on the field at all.

Against the Bills, Freeman was everywhere. Pro Football Focus credited him with eight stops (plays that resulted in offensive failure). He picked up a sack and had his best game of the year in coverage.

By and large, the Colts have gotten solid play from their interior linebackers. The weakness on the Indy defense rests almost entirely with a shoddy secondary and undersized defensive line.

Feel-Good Stat of the Week

The solid play of T.Y. Hilton continued against the Bills with two more touchdowns for the rookie.

Hilton hasn't only been prolific (leading all rookies in receiving touchdowns), he's efficient as well.

His DVOA has been on a steady climb all season. He now ranks 37th overall with a mark at 4.1 percent.

That gives Indy four pass-catchers (Reggie Wayne, Dwayne Allen, Hilton and Vick Ballard) who all have positive DVOA marks on the year.

The only drag on their production is the play of Donnie Avery, who ranks near the bottom of the NFL.

Troubling Stat of the Week

There's only so much you can say about how bad Indy has been at forcing turnovers.

While the ground has been well covered, it's worth noting how amusing it was that when they finally forced an interception against Buffalo, Tom Zbikowski immediately fumbled it back to the Bills on the return.

With two turnovers from the Colts to just one forced by the Colts, that marked the third game Indianapolis has won while losing the turnover battle.

The Colts have only won the turnover battle twice all season (vs. Minnesota and at Jacksonville).

Overall Trend: Rising

No, the Colts' win over Buffalo wasn't inspiring, but that's a good thing.

Indy has had more than its share of rousing over-the-top wins in 2012, and against the Bills, they went out took care of business in rather mundane fashion.

For a team with every possible stat stacked against them, that's a positive sign.

The Colts gain confidence each week. All they need is to win one of their next two games against beatable opponents and they'll be a virtual playoff lock.

Whether or not Indy wins at Detroit, the Colts are slowly morphing from "complete fluke" to "young team on the rise."

All quotes courtesy of the Indianapolis Colts PR department via press release.


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